‘The government has listened’ – Chancery Lane welcomes budget boost
By Gazette Reporter >>
(27 October 2021)
The government has taken a step in the right direction by reinvesting in the justice system, the Law Society said following today’s budget and spending review.
Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: ‘We welcome news the Ministry of Justice will have a £3.2bn increase in its budget to £11.5 bn in 2024-25, equivalent to a real-terms growth rate of 3.3% per year on average over the spending review period. In our submission to HM Treasury we stressed the need for the MoJ’s budget to rise at least in line with inflation for the duration of the spending round and we are relieved the government listened to us.
‘It is good news the government has committed to better access to justice by investing more than £1 billion to increase capacity and efficiency across the courts system, tackle the growing court backlogs and help the system recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
’A healthy legal system is vital for individuals, businesses and achieving levelling up. Legal aid for people on lower incomes and efficient courts are pillars of a fair society. Few things are more empowering than the ability to uphold and protect our rights.’
Today’s announcements included £477 million to reduce the criminal justice backlog and £324 million to address the backlog in the civil, family and tribunal jurisdictions.
Boyce added: ‘We have long warned the civil legal aid sector is in a precarious state and urgent action needs to be taken – to give confidence and security to civil providers in the medium-term and to help them survive while a more lasting solution is found. It is with great relief that we learn that the UK government has listened to us and has pledged to invest in the sustainability of the civil legal aid market.’
Boyce also noted the increase in the thresholds for means-tested legal aid. ‘We have long campaigned for this change, which means that millions more should be able to access justice in our courts,’ she said. ‘We are also optimistic that improvements are on the horizon for criminal legal aid.’
Boyce said that while today’s announcements would not solve all the problems afflicting the justice system overnight, ‘it is a step in the right direction’.
‘We encourage the government to build on this by fully funding the recommendations of the Independent Review of Criminal Legal Aid, restoring legal aid for early legal advice and ending the legal aid deserts that now stretch across most of England and Wales.’
(Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette)