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Value for Money from Legal Aid


The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO), implemented in 2013, significantly reduced the scope of legal aid in England and Wales, which provides legal services for those who are eligible, largely those who cannot afford to pay. LASPO succeeded in helping reduce the scheme’s expenditure from approximately £2.9bn in 2012-13 to around £1.9bn in 2022-23 (adjusted for inflation).

In 2015, the Committee reported that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) introduced these changes on the basis of no evidence in many areas; had not properly assessed the full impact of the reforms; and did not at the time understand and showed little interest in the knock-on costs of its reforms across the public sector.

Since LASPO’s introduction, the MoJ has commissioned several reviews of its legal aid schemes, including an independent review of the long-term sustainability of criminal legal aid published in 2021.  Legal aid policy is currently subject to a high degree of scrutiny elsewhere, including the recent Bellamy review. In 2023 the MoJ announced plans to review the civil legal aid system.

The National Audit Office (NAO) has conducted a study focusing on the effectiveness of LASPO. Based on the NAO’s work, the Committee will hear from the MoJ and the Legal Aid Agency on subjects including:

  • Effectiveness of LASPO;
  • Sustainability of legal aid market;
  • Costs and benefits;
  • Access to justice.

If you have evidence on these issues, please submit it here by 23:59 on Sunday 10 March 2024.

Please look at the requirements for written evidence submissions and note that the Committee cannot accept material as evidence that is published elsewhere.

Please note that the Committee is unable to investigate individual cases.

If you need help with an individual problem you are having, you may wish to contact your constituency MP.

This inquiry is no longer accepting evidence

The deadline for submissions was Sunday 10 March 2024.

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  • Address: Public Accounts Committee, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA