Labour's Shadow Justice team, which includes the Labour MP for Hammersmith Andrew Slaughter, are backing taxpayers money being spent providing legal aid for squatters. Justice Secretary Ken Clarke proposed to save £64 million by restricting legal advice on social welfare law to only the most serious cases including removing legal aid from squatters. But the Shadow Justice secretary Sadiq Khan opposes the change.
Labour’s rallying cry ‘against cuts to legal aid’ appears to abandon their manifesto pledge - and commitments made by Ed Miliband and Sadiq Khan - to find the necessary savings in legal aid. A pamphlet issued by Labour Party HQ in advance of their Party Conference announces that ‘Labour rallies against cuts to legal aid’, despite their manifesto promising to find savings in legal aid and speeches by Labour leader Ed Miliband and Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan reiterating that position.
At more than £2 billion each year, the UK operates one of the world’s most expensive legal aid systems. As part of a substantive review of the system to ensure it is sustainable, proportionate and affordable, the Coalition has introduced a package of legal aid reforms, which will save £350 million during this Spending Review and restrict the availability of legal aid so that it is only available in serious matters which genuinely warrant taxpayer funding.