The Family Court Unions Parliamentary Group (FCUPG) was formed in 2006 to support the work of those employed in the Family Justice system. It meets every two months whilst Parliament is sitting and currently comprises representatives from Napo, PCS and Simpson Millar Solicitors and over 20 MPs and Peers on a cross-party basis.
The current focus of the Group’s campaigns within Parliament are:
- Cuts to Legal Aid
- Impact of Court Closures
- The Closure of Children’s Contact Centres
- A Single Family Court
- The Future for Cafcass.
18 November 2015
- The Group met with the Elizabeth Coe, the Chief Executive of the National Association of Child Contact Centres and agreed to give its support for NACCC’s campaign to obtain future funding. NACCC plays a critical role in ensuring that children have safe contact with the parent/carer they do not live with, but its current finances will only allow it to continue until February unless the government urgently agrees to further funding.
- The Group also heard about concerns over the government's plans to centralise divorce services provided by courts. PCS, whose members work in the Courts, explained that centralisation will lead to further staff cuts as well as uncontested divorce proceedings being given to legal advisors, resulting in a much increased workload for this group who are the lowest paid civil service lawyers in a court.
- Representatives from Simpson Millar were able to brief parliamentarians the continuing day to day impact of the legal aid cuts; telling the group that some legal professionals were now giving free advice as there was no other help available to many families. They also highlighted the worrying recent increase in care cases and promised to supply parliamentarians with examples and a list of questions to be raised. The group would also be writing to the Minister, Shailesh Vara, about both the cuts and the effect on the courts of the increase in Litigants in Person.
MPs from the Group have now tabled an Early Day Motion - EDM 581 - calling on the government to urgently review the financial situation of the NACCC in order that it can continue to carry out its vital work. Please draw this to the attention of YOUR MP and ask her/him to consider adding their support to the EDM. Click here to find and contact your MP.
Legal Aid Cuts
On 1 April 2015 the Family Courts Trade Unions’ Parliamentary Group marked the anniversary of legal aid cuts taking effect by hosting a reception and seminar in Parliament. The group published an excellent booklet highlighting the impact legal aid cuts have been having on children, families and those who work in courts. The group also published an innovative Beginners’ Guide to Family Courts, written by Emma Permaine from solicitors Simpson Millar which it is hoped will help MPs navigate their way through the legal language and processes so that they can better respond to concerns from constituents.
Download a copy of The Impact of Legal Aid Cuts on Family Justice