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Access to Justice and Social Inclusion: The Policy Challenges in Wales

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Abstract:

Enhancing access to legal and advice services is a central pillar of the Access to Justice Act 1999. Within the new welfare framework, employment rights come increasingly into focus as the UK government seeks to forge a link between welfare and work. Access to the labour market, and being sustained within it, are seen as major mechanisms for combating social exclusion. Discrimination at work can only thwart these ambitions. The Access to Justice reforms imply an assessment of need and a review of the ways in which individuals are negotiating the available system of redress. This article reports on a study of advice provision in employment discrimination cases in Wales, funded by the Legal Services Commission and the Equality Commissions in Wales. Drawing on the accounts of key providers, individual experiences of advice seeking and available statistical evidence, it explores the opportunities and constraints of the Welsh context and profiles many of the policy challenges posed for the devolved administration. It demonstrates that, despite advances in equalities legislation and policy directives aimed at strengthening people's employment rights, a number of critical obstacles remain for the most disadvantaged groups.

Keywords: Advice Services; Employment Discrimination; Social Inclusion; Wales

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01418030410001694404

Publication date: March 1, 2004

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