The number of legal aid providers has fallen by 20% in the last years, government statistics have revealed.
The figures, published by justice minister Sam Gyimah in response to a parliamentary written question from his Labour shadow, Gloria De Piero, show that the number of legal aid firms fell from 2,991 to 2,393 between 2012 and 2017.
The largest drop in provision was in Wales, where the number of firms fell by 29%. Bristol and Manchester also saw drops of over 25%, while London had the smallest fall – 13%.
The exodus followed the introduction of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, which removed whole swathes of law from the scope of public funding.
Richard Miller, head of justice at the Law Society, said: “Behind these figures are hundreds of thousands of people who can no longer obtain legal aid for matters such as family break up, a range of housing problems, and challenges to welfare benefits assessments.
“This data also calls attention to the fact that increasingly it is no longer economically viable for solicitors to do this work.”