WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
July 13 2024
WE ARE A MAGAZINE ABOUT LAW AND JUSTICE | AND THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO
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‘Massive’ 48% cut in legal aid leaves vulnerable without lawyers

‘Massive’ 48% cut in legal aid leaves vulnerable without lawyers

A prominent legal aid firm is challenging the government over its failure to provide adequate public funding for immigration and asylum work as a result of a 48% real-terms cut in pay rates since 1996. Duncan Lewis, in a new  judicial review, is arguing that the lord chancellor is failing to fulfil his statutory duty to secure legal aid and leaving unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, victims of sexual violence and trafficking without legal representation, as reported in the Law Gazette.

According to the report, despite a 159% increase in asylum applications between 2019 and 2023, there has only been a 32% increase in cases taken on by civil legal aid providers. Jeremy Bloom, a lead solicitor at Duncan Lewis, explained the ‘heartbreaking’ decision the firm has had to take in making ‘massive reductions in the number of legal aid asylum claims and appeals [they] take on.’ The firm has calculated it makes a financial loss for every legal aid case it takes on, which is an unsustainable position that has contributed to the reduction in number of cases receiving legal representation.

Whilst the firm recognises that legal aid representation is not expected to be profitable, as a business they are still required to pay ‘salaries, overheads and supervision’ and it would be expected they should at least recover the costs from the payment received for carrying out the work.

The Government has already begun a review of the legal aid system including the funding for immigration and asylum work, but concerns have been raised that the election will cause further delays to the consideration of any review.

Bloom observed that without urgent action and a commitment to any changes to funding, ‘another review is too little too late’.

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