Report Finds Decline in Legal Aid Funding

Author:
Caroline Hurst
Court of Protection Senior Associate Lawyer
Date:
28/09/2021

Yesterday the Law Society issued concerning information about the availability of Legal Aid providers in certain areas of the law, particularly those relating to vulnerable or disadvantaged people.

For example, if you have complaints or concerns regarding how your loved one is cared for, a firm needs to have a Community Care contract from the Legal Aid Agency to provide you with legal aid funded advice.

What did the Report Find?

The new data shows that 67% of the population (that’s over 40 million people) do not have access to a community care legal provider. If you have got a provider local to your area, then 15% will not have any choice as to who to seek advice from, with there being only one provider.

The report from The Law Society includes a map which shows the vast legal aid deserts across England and Wales. The maps show that people living in areas without a major city were hit particularly badly, with the South West, North East and North West lacking in almost all legal and local authority areas.    

The cuts to funding for Legal Aid, including which types of cases can attract Legal Aid, has resulted in there now being just 1,401 providers holding a Legal Aid contract compared to 2,129 in 2012. To make problems worse, the number of young lawyers entering into certain Legal Aid funded areas of work is decreasing, leaving the real risk that the number of Legal Aid lawyers is going to continue to decline.

It’s thought that this reduction in Legal Aid lawyers and solicitors is down to low rates of pay, forcing legal professionals from small firms to withdraw from providing Legal Aid.

What is Legal Aid?

Legal Aid is in place to help people pay for legal advice, mediation and representation in Court or a Tribunal.

You might be eligible for Legal Aid if:

  • Your family is at risk of abuse or serious harm
  • You need family mediation
  • You’re at risk of losing your home or becoming homeless
  • You face prison or detention or have been accused of a crime
  • You’re being discriminated against
  • Your case comes under the Human Rights Act

Simpson Millar is committed to ensuring those who need advice and are eligible for Legal Aid can be supported. We have a number of offices across the country holding various Legal Aid contracts, including Lancaster, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol and London.

Get in touch if you’d like to find out more about Legal Aid funding.

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