UK public overwhelmingly supports legal aid
In the context of the Civil Legal Aid Review and the endemic underfunding of civil legal aid, a new poll has shown public support for legal aid across voting intentions.
A poll conducted by the Law Society shows 84% Conservative, 95% Labour and 97% Liberal Democrat voters agreed legal aid is a good thing.
Law Society of England and Wales president Lubna Shuja said: “The UK government is swimming against the tide of its own voters.
“Our poll has found that 90% of people in the UK think that legal aid is a good thing and want it to be available when facing life-changing legal problems. This is the case across voting intentions.
“Despite this overwhelming public support, chronic underfunding means more and more people are struggling to get civil legal aid and are resorting to representing themselves at often critical points in their lives.
“Over the past decade the number of legal aid firms has nearly halved, and recent Law Society research shows this number could drop by a further third, by 2025.
“This means less help for families facing eviction or fighting for welfare benefits, and for vulnerable people struggling to get access to the care they are entitled to.
“It’s good to see that the government has finally launched its long-promised review of civil legal aid, but this won’t report until 2024. Services are collapsing now. We cannot afford to wait until 2024 for investment, if we want to ensure that support is there for those who need it in these turbulent times.”
Notes to editors
Law Society public opinion poll, 6 January 2023, 2,000 respondents, weighted to reflect the UK population.
- 53% of respondents thought legal aid is available for domestic violence cases, 73% said it should be available (legal aid is in fact available only if there is an injunction)
- 44% thought legal aid is available for employment cases and 68% said it should be available (legal aid is in fact only available for discrimination cases).
- 42% thought it is available for rented housing issues and 66% said it should be available (legal aid is in fact only available if living conditions are threat to health or at repossession stage).
Poll breakdown by region: In the North East, 86% of respondents agreed legal aid is a good thing, in Yorkshire and the Humber it was 88%, in the East Midlands it was 85%, in the West Midlands it was 89%, in London it was 93%, in the South East it was 92%, in the South West it was 94% and in Wales it was 90%.
The Law Society’s legal aid deserts maps show that across England and Wales: 52m people (88%) do not have access to a local education provider, 40m (67%) do not have access to a local community care legal aid provider, 23.5m (39%) do not have access to a local legal aid provider for housing advice
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