The number of legal aid firms and not-for-profit agencies offering social welfare law advice has collapsed by a third over the last five years since LASPO, according to the latest statistics from the Legal Aid Agency. The number of civil legal aid providers dropped by 5% last year compared to an 8% fall in criminal defence firms over the last five years.
The withering of the civil legal aid scheme continued for the fifth consecutive year running with workloads in immigration down by 9% in the last quarter compared to the previous year, mental health dropped by 8%, and housing by 4%. Legal help work had collapsed to less than one-third of pre-LASPO levels.
There were 746 applications for the exceptional case funding scheme, LASPO’s so called safety net provisions, received in the first three months of the year. According to the LAA, this is the highest number of applications received in a single quarter since the scheme began in April 2013 and a 40% increase from the same quarter last year. Of the 746 applications, almost nine out of 10 (88%) had been determined by the LAA as of May and almost six out of 10 (59%) were granted which is the highest proportion and highest number of grants since the scheme began. Almost two thirds of applications (64%) related to immigration.
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