Since our last briefing in August 2017, the state of legal aid has further deteriorated. The number of civil cases started involving legal aid fell by a staggering 82% between 2010 and 2018. Around a million fewer claims for legal aid are being processed each year, compared with 2011.
The legal aid cuts have put enormous pressure on staffing levels for cases and have forced many people to bring or defend cases on their own behalf. Analysis by the BBC's Shared Data Unit shows that 1,000 fewer legal aid providers were paid for civil legal aid work in 2018, compared with 2011. These lost providers are being replaced by the litigants themselves (known as ‘litigants in person’), placing a huge burden of effort and understanding on ordinary citizens. Thousands of people have had to navigate the complex rules surrounding the court system with little to no legal advice.