Damning report shows urgent need for legal aid funding

The Westminster Commission on Legal Aid today (Tuesday, 19 October) published its report on the sustainability and recovery of the legal aid sector.

“We welcome this much-needed and thorough report,” said Law Society of England and Wales’ head of justice Richard Miller.

“We echo its damning verdict on the inadequate funding of our legal aid system and the detrimental impact of that on the ability of the most vulnerable in society to access justice.

“We strongly support the call for a more holistic service for clients that enables them to get help for their clusters of problems, rather than individual issues being treated in isolation from the rest.

“We also welcome the bipartisan call for significant investment in the sector in order to address the crisis of sustainability.

“The government must commit in the upcoming spending review to fund the legal aid system properly so that everyone – no matter their background – has access to legal aid when they are entitled to it.

“This, with measures to address the huge backlogs in civil and criminal courts, would begin to put the justice system on the long road to recovery.

“Our legal aid desert maps show British justice is at risk as publicly funded legal advice vanishes* at a time when it is needed more than ever.

“Likewise, with a huge backlog of criminal cases to be heard and increased police numbers predicted to lead to more arrests, criminal defence lawyers are needed more than ever to provide access to justice but there are a diminishing number of criminal legal aid firms operating.**

“We have been highlighting the problems plaguing the justice system since long before the pandemic and now is the time for action before it’s too late.”

Notes to editors

Read the report in full

See our legal aid desert maps

Criminal legal aid firm figures

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Press office contact: Nick Mayo | 020 8049 4100

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