Our justice system is failing the vulnerable, and we should all be embarrassed about it.
Legal aid spending in England and Wales has been cut by £933 million in the last eight years. And as a direct result, we’ve seen huge reductions in support.
- The number of civil cases receiving early advice has dropped by 80%.
- The number of criminal cases receiving legal aid funding has fallen by a third
- The number of legal aid providers has fallen by a third, leaving parts of the country with no provisions at all.
- The number of people representing themselves in count has increasing significantly.
And what infuriates me the most is that cuts to legal aid have disproportionately affected the vulnerable, particularly disabled people, women, BAME people and those whose first language is not English. By being denied access to justice, legal aid cuts increase poverty and social exclusion.
The Liberal Democrats demand better.
At our spring conference, we have just passed a motion calling for:
- the restoration of legal aid for early legal advice, assistance and representation in civil cases
- a simpler, more generous legal aid system
- urgent reform of the Exceptional Case Funding scheme
- a new, independently overseen right to affordable legal assistance
Read the full motion here:
Justice is becoming the reserve of the powerful and privileged. It’s unacceptable. We’re taking a stand for the rights of the less well off and proud to be doing so.