Government’s management of legal aid criticised by National Audit Office

On February 9, 2024, the National Audit Office (NAO) released a report titled “Government’s management of legal aid,” which highlights the need for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to take additional steps to ensure that legal aid is accessible to all those who qualify for it. The report emphasizes that until the MoJ achieves this, it cannot effectively demonstrate that it is meeting its primary objectives and ensuring value for money.

Despite the MoJ’s success in significantly reducing legal aid spending, including funds allocated to housing cases, the NAO report underscores that more than a decade after implementing reforms, the MoJ still lacks a comprehensive understanding of the complete costs and benefits associated with these changes.

One significant negative consequence highlighted in the report is the adverse impact on court efficiency resulting from a notable increase in individuals representing themselves in civil cases. This surge in self-representation has strained court resources and contributed to delays and inefficiencies in legal proceedings.

The NAO report serves as a call to action for the MoJ to reassess its approach to legal aid management and ensure that it is effectively meeting the needs of those eligible for legal aid while also addressing the broader implications of its reforms on the legal system’s efficiency and effectiveness.

For the report, click here.

For a summary, click here.

For a call by the Law Society for an urgent cash injection for housing legal aid, click here.

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