Jackie Baillie and the Scottish Courts complex in Dumbarton. Pictures by Bill Heaney
By Paul Cassidy
Analysis conducted by Scottish Labour has revealed that between 2007/08 and 2020/21 the legal aid budget has been cut by a sum of £499 million in real terms.
The decision to freeze legal aid funding levels in the 2020/21 budget follows successive reductions under the SNP. The result is a diminished legal aid budget, cut by almost half a billion over the SNP’s time in power.
Legal aid is essential in offering help to those in society who cannot afford their own legal costs and in ensuring everyone is treated equally under the law.
An independent review into legal aid was published in November 2018 but Scottish Labour have condemned the lack of timely response from the Scottish Government which, compounded by the extensive cuts revealed today, are risking access to justice.
Dumbarton Constituency MSP Jackie Baillie said: “The scale of the cuts to the legal aid budget over the SNP’s time in power has been catastrophic and the prospect of vulnerable people in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and Lomond being denied legal aid due to these cuts, is appalling.
“Scotland is now on its 13th budget from the SNP; 13 missed opportunities and years of broken promises and mismanagement.
“At this year’s budget, it’s time for investment. Our country is crying out for change.”