Our submission to the 2021 spending review and autumn budget

Our legal services sector is a true economic powerhouse, contributing £60 billion to the UK economy and supporting the employment of 552,000 people, or 1.1% of the UK labour force.

The UK legal services market is the second largest in the world, and the sector is a net contributor to the UK’s balance of trade, with net exports of £4.29 billion in 2017.

Thanks to the way it works with businesses and individuals across the breadth of society, the legal services sector has a central part to play in making levelling up a reality.

In partnership with government, we can go even further yet.

Our submission sets out a package of targeted investment that will allow the government to leverage the unique strengths of the legal services sector in delivering its priorities.

Our recommendations

In summary, we recommend that the government:

  • at minimum, commit to maintaining current levels of spending on the justice system in real terms for the duration of this spending round
  • allocate sufficient funding to the Ministry of Justice for a programme of capital renewal of the courts estate in England and Wales
  • commit to funding the implementation of the Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid’s recommendations in full
  • fund a yearly inflationary uplift in civil legal aid fees for the duration of the spending round
  • fund the reinstatement of legal aid for early advice from a lawyer in housing, housing benefit and family law
  • create a grant scheme to support small and medium-sized law firms with the costs of adopting productivity boosting lawtech, modelled on Singapore’s Tech-celerate for Law scheme
  • continue to invest in improving digital connectivity in parts of England and Wales where coverage is currently limited
  • make publicly funded loans available for Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) candidates
  • work with the Institute for Apprenticeships on changes to the apprenticeship levy to give law firms the flexibility to spend apprenticeship levy money on:
    • lawtech seats and training in lawtech skills
    • training in secondary specialisations which will enable people to re-train in other practice areas
    • training contracts and placements to maintain the jobs pipeline for students about to complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC) or the SQE
  • extend the repayment period for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) from six years to eight
  • defer the transitional year for the income tax basis period reform by at least two years; allow firms to spread excess profits over a period of 10 years rather than five; and consider additional administrative simplifications to ease the burdens on firms
  • ensure that the business rates review is inclusive and supportive of high street law firms

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