Legal Aid Budget Cuts
There have been significant Legal Aid cuts in Scotland in recent years. These cuts have dramatically restricted access to justice for Scotland’s poorest families. These cuts began to be introduced before the financial crisis and before austerity measures were introduced in other sectors. Therefore, legal aid had already been reduced to a skeleton service before more widespread cuts were introduced. The cuts have affected not only criminal law but also family law, wills, compensation claims, powers of attorney and civil court work.
The Scottish Legal Aid Board have now announced that a further cut of 7% is to be implemented for the year 2016-17. There has been a cut of 31% to the legal aid budget in recent years. If the proposed further cuts are implemented then it could have a disastrous effect on access to justice and on the legal system more generally. As numbers of individuals representing themselves in courts increases, it places an even greater burden on the courts. That in turn simply increases the cost of administering the courts system.
Consequently, if cuts in legal aid progress further it may not even result in any net saving to public expenditure! It could simply prevent poorer people being properly represented within the justice system. This will impact upon individuals across Scotland, and our clients in Airdrie, Motherwell, Coatbridge, Cumbernauld, Bellshill, Wishaw and Hamilton will also be affected.
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