LAG: ‘disturbing’ drop off in legal aid cases

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The Legal Action Group has warned that what remains of civil legal aid could just ‘wither away’ as new research reveals ‘a disturbing reduction’ in the take-up of cases, writes Jon Robins. According to the group, there has been a marked drop off even for the cases still covered by legal aid.

According to LAG, the reduced take-up of civil legal aid has been caused by ‘a combination of factors: dwindling numbers of firms and agencies undertaking legal aid, increased bureaucratic hurdles before legal aid is granted and a low profile, caused by lack of marketing and a public perception that legal aid is no-longer available for civil cases’.

  • You can read the full report (Civil Legal Aid: the secret legal service) HERE

‘Either by accident or design, the government seems to be presiding over a secret legal service. The fear is if nothing is done to increase the take-up of civil legal aid, the remaining services will wither away as the lack of use will be used to justify their loss.’
Legal Action Group

 

Downward trend
The most significant decline has been for social welfare law cases which have fallen from just under half a million cases at their peak in 2009-10 to 293,319 last year.

LAG  table 1

 

 

‘We believe the reduction in the numbers of cases since 2010 has been caused by changes to the system, such as the reduction in the numbers of cases legal aid firm are permitted to commence, rather than a decrease in the numbers of people needing assistance.’
Legal Action Group

 

 

The percentage number of legal help cases (i.e., initial advice) which the government predicted would remain in scope after April LASPO cuts:

LAG table 2

 

 

The total number of legal help cases for each category of law for the first quarter of the current year – the projected number of cases is based on the government’s estimates and the percentage shortfall in the number of cases is calculated by LAG:

LAG table 3

 

According to LAG, ‘a total of 3,866 less people than predicted received civil legal aid. This is a total shortfall of 52%.’ According to the group, the very large shortfall in discrimination law is down to ‘the 100% reduction in the availability of legal aid for employment law cases’

 

 

 

About Jon Robins

Jon is a journalist and has written about the law and justice for the national papers and specialist press for more than 15 years. Jon is a visiting journalism lecturer at Winchester University, a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln and patron of Hackney Community Law Centre. He has won the Bar Council’s legal reporter of the year award twice (2015 and 2005). Jon is editor and co-founder of LegalVoice

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