Legal aid statistics: January to March 2022

The quarterly legal aid statistics bulletin presents statistics on the legal aid scheme administered by the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) for England and Wales. This edition comprises the first release of statistics for the three month period from January to March 2022 and also provides the latest statement of figures for all earlier periods. This edition also includes figures on central funds, providers of legal aid, inquests and the diversity of clients receiving legal aid. These statistics are derived from data held by LAA, produced and published by Legal Aid Statistics team of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).

This publication shows that completed workload and the associated expenditure across both criminal and civil legal aid has increased year on year and has also increased more over the recent quarters, due to recovery from covid-19; in addition,– total civil expenditure is at its highest level since 2014-15.

Criminal legal aid expenditure increased compared to the same quarter last year in schemes that support the court system, including the magistrates’ and Crown Court. The incoming workload for representation at the courts had returned to levels seen in the period pre-covid-19 but in the last two quarters we’ve seen falls in both courts suggesting a sustained fall in cases reaching court. There are increases in expenditure this quarter compared to the previous year, however when compared to pre-covid-19 and two years previously, expenditure has still not fully recovered.

Civil legal aid volumes and expenditure show a mixed picture compared to last year. Overall civil expenditure is returning to pre-pandemic levels driven by family law expenditure. Other non-family workload has not recovered to the same extent and this is driven by the slow recovery of housing work following the impact of covid-19 although in the last quarter this has increased. Overall civil legal aid workload still remains below pre-pandemic levels although trends are increasing in domestic violence, mental health and immigration within exceptional case funding.

Our client diversity has remained unchanged across the schemes with consistent proportions across age, gender, disability and ethnicity. Over the last 5 years there has been a fall in the number of provider offices completing legal aid work but in the most recent year there has been a slight increase. The legal aid provider base in both civil and criminal legal aid that completed work during the last year has slightly increased when compared to the falls seen last year.

It was expected that criminal and civil legal aid volumes would return to, and even temporarily exceed, historic trend levels and more recent falls could be due to this return to normal levels

Pre-release

Pre-release access of up to 24 hours is granted to the following persons:

Ministry of Justice

Secretary of State for Justice, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Permanent Secretary,  Head of Legal Aid Policy, Special Advisor Inbox, Legal Aid Policy Officials (5), Press Officers (5), Digital Officers (2), Private secretaries (5), Legal Aid Analysis (2)

Chief Executive, Chief Executive’s Office (2), Head of Financial Forecasting, Senior External Communications Manager, Director of Finance Business Partnering, Service Development Managers (2), Exceptional and Complex Cases Workflow Co-ordinator, Change Manager

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