On the front page of the Gazette this week we have the story that an 'Overwhelming demand for family advice leads to helpline expansion'. The Community Legal Advice family law helpline pilot last year was so successful that the Legal Services Commission has launched a tender for law firms or not-for-profit organisations to provide the service on a permanent basis.
The Gazette article states that "an evaluation showed 82% of callers were able to resolve their problems". So, good news then, or is it? Perhaps I am just being cynical (a condition brought about by doing years of legal aid work), but I can't help wondering whether this isn't just another cheap gimmick aimed at reducing the legal aid budget. Give the punters a bit of cheap advice (not necessarily from a solicitor, as mentioned in the article) and hopefully they won't then instruct one of those awful expensive solicitors. Another example of a second rate service for the less well off?