This is the first academic paper to consider the role that parliamentarians play in access to justice. Under austerity, England and Wales has seen cuts to legal aid and local authority budgets that have impacted the ability of people to get help for legal problems in social welfare law from the advice sector. Members of the UK Parliament and Members of the Senedd Cymru are increasingly being called upon by their constituents to fill the resultant gap in advice. This paper draws on interviews with parliamentarians that draw out the nature of the role they are now playing in access to justice across three key areas of civil justice: welfare benefits; housing; and immigration. The growth of parliamentarians as figures in access to justice has thus far been largely neglected but is crucial to grasp, as the implications for the future of access to justice are massive. The paper calls for more research to better understand the phenomenon but urges caution that elected representatives should not be considered as an adequate substitute for a properly functioning, adequately funded advice sector.
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Copyright © 2023 The Author(s).
- access to justice
- legal aid
- social welfare