A report launched on last month at the House of Commons has suggested that cuts to legal aid are proving to be a false economy. The report on the impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) says that 620,000 are being denied justice.
Magna Carta today? written by Unite and Goldsmiths, University of London, outlines a seven point plan to give greater access to justice.
The erosion of legal aid began many years ago as rates were frozen by the previous government, substantially reducing the number of legal aid practitioners we have, and putting at great risk those that remain.
Despite LASPO taking account of women experiencing domestic violence, the report said: “Extremely vulnerable women are still being denied access to justice.”
There has been a £350 million reduction in funding for civil legal aid (housing, disrepair, benefits advice, etc.). What has happened, according to the report, is costs have simply been shifted onto other parts of the public purse, and the savings have turned out to be a false economy.
The report said: “For every £1 spent on legal advice and aid, the state saves around £6 on other forms of spending, including spending as a result of families becoming homeless and children being taken into care. “These ‘reforms’ have therefore been seriously counterproductive in financial terms, as well as being fundamentally unjust.”
The report concludes: “These reforms have therefore been seriously counterproductive in financial terms, as well as fundamentally unjust.”
Sadly this report only confirms what many of us were saying before the cuts to legal aid were made, that by spending money on advice you save money from across the board.