Erith law centre ‘faces struggle’ if government cash is cut

10:53 23 February 2012

l to r Kathy Smith CEO, Dee Bahan, Ellen Edwards, Jocelyn Erskine-Kelly, Stephen Young, Sheila Nelson-Durrant, Patrick McNamee

l to r Kathy Smith CEO, Dee Bahan, Ellen Edwards, Jocelyn Erskine-Kelly, Stephen Young, Sheila Nelson-Durrant, Patrick McNamee

Archant

A free legal advice centre in Erith will be under threat if legal aid is cut according to the owners

A free advice service to thousands is ­under threat due to the government’s planned ­legal aid reforms.

Cross Street Law Centre in Erith offers free legal advice to approximately 6,000 residents a year in areas such as employment, housing, debt, discrimination and benefits.

According to the centre, 50 per cent of income comes from legal aid and it claims it will struggle to continue helping people if funding is cut.

Chief executive officer of the centre Kathy Smith is ­critical of the planned Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill which is ­being debated by the House of Lords and could see an end to the system.

She said: “We face the ­prospect of the end of legal aid in 2013 which would deprive ­access to justice for a lot of people.”

Miss Smith also tried to ­dispel some myths about who is entitled to legal aid.

She added: “Legal aid is available to people on benefits or those working who are on low ­income – it is a not just for people on benefits.”

The centre believes that if the law is passed there will be no equality in the law and rich people will have an ­advantage.

The right to free legal ­advice for many people in Bexley and the surrounding areas will be removed.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “At more than £2.1billion a year, we have one of the most expensive legal aid systems in the world which in the current economic climate we just ­cannot afford.

“Our measures target legal aid at the people who need support the most.

“Taxpayers therefore know their money is really helping people, and is not fuelling ­unnecessary ­legal action.”

The centre started as an outreach project linked to Plumstead Community Law Centre in 2000.

It became independent in a move to Thamesmead in 2007 and has occupied its current premises in Erith since 2008.

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Latest London politics news

Wednesday, August 26, 2015
The eponymous craft beer is not always brewed in the capital (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

If there’s two things London foodies are obsessed with, it’s craft beer and local products, so it’s a surprise to learn that a drink that is named after London and boasts of being “the quintessential English lager” is sometimes brewed in Europe.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015
How should the next generation of Boris bikes look? (Photo by Steve Bardens/ Getty Images for Santander)

Santander Boris bikes as we know them could be a thing of the past after TfL issued a tender for their redesign.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015
New Fathers 4 Justice campaigners altered this local council anti- domestic violence poster in Greenwich Station (Picture: New Fathers 4 Justice)

An anti-domestic violence poster has angered fathers campaign groups and today two activists were ‘removed’ by police from a south-east London train station for defacing the council missive.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Paddy Power reckon it's a dead cert for Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn (Lauren Hurley/PA Wire)

Jeremy Corbyn’s victory in the Labour leadership race is a “done deal” according to one bookmaker which has already started paying out on bets.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Computer class

New figures show, in the face of growing youth unemployment, vacancies for digital jobs is set to widen in the next year.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Lord Sewel resigns from the House of Lords (Picture: PA Images)

Lord Sewel has quit the House of Lords after video footage emerged of him allegedly taking cocaine with two prostitutes in his London flat, even snorting a line off one woman’s breasts.

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

Competitions

Shop till you drop!

Home to top name brands at great prices, TK Maxx is more like a treasure hunt than a shop. Perfect for grabbing a bargain or some hidden gems, you arm yourself with a trolley and go wild.

Read more
Scones, jam and a cup of Earl Grey anyone?

Luxury boutique hotel Flemings Mayfair has recently launched The Drawing Room, London’s most stylish location for afternoon tea.

Read more
Free weekly shop? Yes please!

Win £200 to spend at Asda, one of the country’s leading supermarkets. Asda prides itself in being one of the cheapest places to shop, so you can be sure that your money will go a long way here.

Read more