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Cuts continue to hit legal aid spending
Overall expenditure on legal aid services dropped from £1.9bn in 2013–14 to just under £1.7bn in 2014–15, according to the Legal Aid Agency’s annual report.
The accounts also reveal the agency has continued to clamp down on accepting flawed or incomplete applications, with a reduction in the gross error rate from £23.4m to £19.3m last year. Error rates on claims had resulted in a succession of qualified accounts when the legal aid scheme had been run by the Legal Services Commission. In his strategic report, the chief executive of the LAA, Mathew Coats (pictured), among other issues, reports on the creation of the specialist advocacy unit, set up in response to earlier action by barristers, who refused returns in protest at the proposed legal aid cuts. The unit now employs 24 qualified advocates, including seven QCs who specialise in acting in criminal cases before the Crown and higher courts.
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Commenting on the report, LAG director Steve Hynes said: ‘The lack of detail in the report on the types of cases and the numbers of people helped by the scheme perhaps reflects the government’s view that legal aid is a problem to be managed rather than an important public service to be celebrated.’

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Description: LAG
A national, independent charity, promoting equal access to justice for all members of society who are socially, economically or otherwise...