A Government agency which provides legal advice to millions of people is to cut 600 jobs and close a number of offices, staff were told today.
The GMB union said it was told that the Legal Services Commission planned to reduce its workforce from 1,700 to 1,100 over the next three years.
The job losses will be phased as offices close in Brighton, Cardiff, Cambridge, Reading, Leeds, Chester and Birmingham, according to the union.
The grim news was given to union officials at a meeting this morning.
The Commission is a Government agency providing information, advice and legal representation to two million people a year in England and Wales.
The service helps people with civil legal problems such as family breakdown, death and housing.
Rehana Azam, an official of the GMB, said: "This is very disappointing news for the Legal Services Commission staff and for people seeking legal aid.
"We will fight a vigorous campaign to minimise the job losses and will seek a meeting with Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, to discuss these proposed job losses.
"It is essential to ensure that legal aid services to the public are maintained in these times of recession and it is particularly important there are no cutbacks in the services to people facing debts and housing problems."
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