Ministry of Justice
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Government review to explore options to improve civil legal aid market

A government review will explore options for improving the sustainability of the legal aid system for people facing civil and family legal issues.

  • government to review civil legal aid market to make the system more efficient
  • research will identify options for improving long-term sustainability
  • external analysis to explore how people in need access support

The review will commission an external economic analysis of the civil legal aid market to better understand how people access funding and support.

It will encompass all categories of civil legal aid provision, with in-depth analysis into areas including family, housing, mental health, education, discrimination and immigration. It will also consider value for taxpayers’ money of future policy options and take into account wider budgetary restraints on the department.

As well as an assessment of how such systems work in other comparable countries, the review will also include publications of further data on how civil legal aid is accessed and delivered across England and Wales to help inform future decisions.

Once complete, the government can consider options from the review for moving to a more effective, more efficient and more sustainable system for legal providers and the people who rely on legal aid.

Civil legal aid can help people cover the costs of legal help and representation for issues such as disputes with a landlord, managing debts or seeking protection from domestic abuse. It is delivered by providers such as law centres, private firms and non-profit organisations.

Justice Minister, Lord Bellamy, said:

This comprehensive review will give us a wealth of evidence on the civil legal aid systems, how services are provided, and of the issues facing the market.

Identifying how we can make provision work best for everyone will help ensure we are building a more efficient and effective system to deliver sustainable legal aid support well into the future.

The government will issue a tender this month inviting third parties to bid to undertake the external analysis.

The final report is due to be published in 2024.

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