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Law Society attacks legal aid cuts

Law Society attacks legal aid cuts

A decision to nearly halve the number of firms that are able to offer legal aid could create "advice deserts", experts have warned.

The number of firms able to offer legal aid will be cut from 2,400 to 1,300 under plans rolled out by the Legal Services Commission (LSC), resulting in "potentially devastating" implications for at-risk families and individuals who may not be able to afford legal services in the future.

The LSC said it has asked firms to reapply for the three-year contracts in order to provide a "better quality service".

However, the Law Society said the cuts will hit those most in need of legal aid the hardest and has called for a public review.

"We think this is potentially devastating. The LSC is potentially creating advice deserts here, where people simply can't get access to a proper lawyer," Mark Stobbs, of the society, said.

Mr Stobbs added that people in Wales, Cornwall, Dorset, Lincolnshire and Humberside would be worst hit.

The LSC countered the criticism, saying the contract tender exercise was "not about reducing expenditure" and was simply intended to provide an improved service for the thousands of people who require legal aid every year.