MP steps in to help young lawyers

Pictured (L-R) are constituent Ray Smith, John Healey MP and young lawyer Chelsea Towner.
Pictured (L-R) are constituent Ray Smith, John Healey MP and young lawyer Chelsea Towner.

WENTWORTH and Dearne MP John Healey has helped a group of young lawyers carry out research by allowing them to observe one of his advice surgeries.

The study being carried out by Young Legal Aid Lawyers aims to gather data on the work MPs do for constituents and to look at the impact of the government’s proposed cuts to legal aid.

Mr Healey has provided information on the volume and nature of his work and allowed one of the young lawyers to sit in on one of his advice surgeries.

He said: “Because of the economic downturn, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people needing advice on problems legal aid can help with, like debt, housing, benefits and employment.

“The Tory-led government wants to cut £300m from legal aid, which means they will stop at least half a million people – especially women, disabled people and the most vulnerable – from getting the help they need.

“The government’s approach is counter-productive and short-sighted – often these problems will escalate, resulting in greater cost to the taxpayer further down the line.”

Chelsea Towner, 23, who carried out the research at Mr Healey’s office, said: “It was surprising and interesting to see the volume and range of issues people go to see their MP with.

“It brought home how damaging legal aid cuts could be. If you cut legal aid you cut off support for the most vulnerable people in society.

“Legal aid helps people deal with problems that are very personal and important to them, like disability, family issues, divorce and domestic violence.”

Young Legal Aid Lawyers are carrying out similar research in 79 MPs’ offices across the country.

They expect to publish their work later this year.