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Public concerned over legal aid cuts

Public concerned over legal aid cuts

Proposed reforms to the legal aid system have provoked concerns among the majority of the British public, with 71% in a recent poll commissioned by barristers worried that cuts to legal aid could result in innocent people being wrongly convicted of crimes.

The ComRes poll, commissioned by the Bar Council, also showed the public’s support for the current system, with two thirds (67%) agreeing that legal aid is a price worth paying for living in a fair society. Although the public are already showing concern over the proposals, Government consultation is still ongoing.

However, the reforms, which will hit the poorest hardest according to 75% of the people polled, propose a system where competitive tendering will result in the lowest bidders winning work, which could be inexperienced legal teams. Another proposal will see the removal of a person’s own choice in the lawyer that represents them.

Maura McGowan QC, chairman of the Bar Council, said:

“Successive governments have failed in their efforts to undermine public confidence in legal aid. In fact, most people think it is a good investment in a fair society. This poll provides the evidence which the Government has failed to gather. The public hugely values our legal aid system and it is concerned about the consequences of the Government’s proposals.”

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