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Parliamentary briefing: Legal aid deserts

24 April 2019

Provision of legal aid advice for housing is disappearing in large areas of England and Wales, creating legal aid deserts.

In 2016 the Law Society developed an interactive heatmap using data from the Legal Aid Agency, which showed that almost a third of legal aid procurement areas in England and Wales had one or no local legal aid housing advice providers. Since that time the situation has got worse.

In April 2019 the Law Society published a new map, highlighting that over half of all local authorities in England and Wales have no provision for housing legal aid services.

This map is based on local authority boundaries, whereas the 2016 map was based on legal aid procurement areas.

Our analysis of legal aid providers in England and Wales, combined with Office of National Statistics population data, has revealed startling figures for coverage of housing legal aid advice. Our key findings are:

  • over a third (37%) of the population live in local authorities which do not have a single housing legal aid provider
  • 59% of the population live in local authorities which have 1 or no housing legal aid providers
  • more than half of all local authority areas in England and Wales - covering nearly 22 million people - do not have a single housing legal aid provider
  • over three quarters of all local authority areas in England and Wales - covering 35 million people - have just 1 or no housing legal aid providers

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