The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) has been described by many commentators as a dramatic curtailment of access to justice which is likely to impact disproportionately on marginalised groups and individuals. This paper seeks to set LASPO in its historical context; it is viewed as a radical development, but nevertheless one that is consistent with the policy discourses of responsibilisation and consumerism dominant since at least the 1990s. The paper uses research into the experience of the not for profit sector’s involvement in legally aided welfare advice to frame this perspective. Key findings include the extent to which respondents (both managers and front line workers) felt that while Legal Services Commission funding had transformed organisational practices and ethos, the implementation of LASPO and the austerity programme represented a critical watershed for the sector and its capacity to fulfil what front line workers in particular felt was their ‘mission’.

Social Justice on the margins: the future of the not for profit sector as providers of legal advice in England and Wales

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