Legal aid is in crisis. The safety net for those who need legal help but can't afford to pay for lawyers is under severe strain. More and more of the people it was intended to help are falling through the holes in its increasingly threadbare mesh. As the government ploughs more money into health and education, legal aid has become what MPs on the constitutional affairs select committee described as "the Cinderella" of the government's services to address social exclusion and poverty.

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