• April 20, 2024
 Legal aid: ‘government lacks understanding’ report finds

Legal aid: ‘government lacks understanding’ report finds

In the last weekly update from the Law Society’s public affairs team on all the latest developments and debates in Parliament and across Whitehall, one feature was Legal Aid.

The Legal Aid comment is below:

Legal aid: government lacks understanding of costs and benefits, report finds

A report published Friday 9 February by the National Audit Office has found that the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) does not know whether everyone eligible for legal aid can access it and needs to do more to ensure the sustainability of the legal aid market.

The NAO acknowledges that the MoJ has “achieved its aim of significantly reducing legal aid spending” but says the department “lacks understanding of the full costs and benefits” of its reforms.

The report recommends that the MoJ work closely with stakeholders to boost its understanding of the costs and benefits of legal issues removed from the scope of legal aid by its reforms.

It should also improve its research on the impact of the removal of early advice for housing and debt issues.

Finally, the NAO recommends the MoJ work with providers and professional bodies to create a workforce strategy to look at the pipeline of future legal aid lawyers.

We have welcomed the report.

Both the civil and criminal legal aid systems are on their knees, with evidence showing it is becoming increasingly difficult for legal aid providers to sustain a business.

The removal of early advice has had a significant impact on family cases, while our recent judicial review victory clearly demonstrated the significant strains on criminal legal aid providers.

Read the full Westminster update here.

Rebecca Morgan, Editor

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