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Government plans to cut legal help for vulnerable families and children have been greeted with concern by family barristers. They claim that the proposals are likely to impact on women trying to secure financial support for themselves and their children from ex-husbands who seek to hide assets.
Moves announced last week by the Ministry of Justice and the Legal Services Commission will reduce the amount of support available to fund specialist advisers.
Lucy Theis QC, Chairman of the Family Law Bar Association, said:
"These cuts are being made against the backdrop of deep public anxiety caused by cases like Baby P. It is in relation to cases such as this that the Government is making cuts in funding. As a result women and children will be put at increased risk.
"These latest reductions will hit vulnerable women hardest. The Government has imposed cuts of up to 55% without any assessment of the impact they will have on vulnerable women or on providers of such specialist representation. Where a wife is seeking financial provision for herself and her children, the consequence of these cuts will be financial hardship. These cuts will result in the inability of wives to secure proper financial provision from a husband determined to hide assets.
"By reducing the support available in this area, the Government is making this area of practice less attractive for prospective barristers. These lawyers will migrate to other areas of law. This will deny vulnerable families and children the effective access to justice they so desperately need."