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Positive moves in budget overshadowed by cuts to justice

22 November 2017

Promising announcements on new housing development and cuts to stamp duty land tax announced in today’s budget will be greeted warmly by solicitors and the public alike, the Law Society of England and Wales said today.

Law Society vice-president Christina Blacklaws said: “A lack of affordable housing is resulting in hundreds of thousands of renters forced to live in inadequate and unsafe conditions. Coupled with cuts to legal aid and unclear legislation, many renters have no recourse, even when faced with appalling conditions.

“Promoting affordable housing is an important and positive step forward. Solicitors will be able to assist first time buyers in understanding what this means and the how it might help them purchase a new home.”

The Law Society also welcomed the government’s commitment to consult on their response to Matthew Taylor’s review into employment practices.

Christina Blacklaws said: “The government’s willingness to review employment law and employment rights is positive. As our economy undergoes structural changes, the law needs to adapt. We need clarity to ensure employee’s rights are respected and we look forward to engaging with the government on this important review.”

Echoing concerns from the Spring Budget, the Law Society warned changes to tax avoidance laws needed to be advanced with caution.

Christina Blacklaws added: “While we support the government’s efforts to tackle aggressive tax avoidance and tax evasion, tax lawyers will need greater clarity. Solicitors play an important role in our tax system by advising their clients on how to remain compliant with the law.

“Adding new rules and increasing complexity risks exacerbating the problem, rather than offering clear solutions. The government should ensure further avoidance measures do not deter taxpayers from obtaining honest legal advice.”

Despite the positives in today’s budget, Christina Blacklaws said significant cuts to Ministry of Justice funding continue to affect the legal sector.

“The 40% real cut in funding for the Ministry of Justice from 2011 to 2020 was notably absent from the Chancellor’s statement. These cuts are having a real impact on the ability of the most vulnerable in our society to access justice,” she said.

“While we acknowledge the government’s recent announcement to review the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act, the significant cuts to the justice budget are still preventing effective justice for all.”

Read our summary of the autumn budget

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contact: Chris Steer+44 (0)20 7316 5624