Legal aid cuts ‘not thought through’

The government did not “think through” its legal aid cuts early enough and “does not know” whether people in need of aid are getting it, a report says.

The National Audit Office report also said the number of family court cases about child contact where neither parent had a lawyer rose by 89% in 2013/14 in England and Wales.

Since April 2013, a range of civil cases – including most family, debt, housing, employment and social welfare cases – have not qualified for legal aid.

The NAO said the Ministry of Justice “did not think through early enough” the full impact of its changes and “does not know whether people who are eligible for legal aid are able to get it”.

Labour’s shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said the government had “completely failed on legal aid”.

“This damning report by the NAO completely exposes David Cameron’s reckless assault on access to justice. [It leaves] hundreds of thousands without proper legal advice,” he said.