The Scottish Legal Aid Board’s annual report has uncovered that Legal aid spending has fallen from £130.9 million in 2020 to £99.1m in 2020-21. 
The Law Society of Scotland has addressed the issues and highlighted that the decline suggests that a long-term funding plan is necessary, in order to ensure that legal advice and services can remain accessible. 
The co-convener of the Law Society of Scotland, Ian Moir, stated: “The sharp fall of over £30 million in year’s Scottish Legal Aid Board annual report illustrates even more vividly the urgent need to address the funding crisis. “It is vital that the government invests properly in legal aid to help those in need and ensure that solicitors are fairly paid for the work that they do.”
He continued: “Solicitors have worked extremely hard through all of the challenges presented by the pandemic to continue to advise and represent their clients. However, while closure of the courts in the early days of lockdown has undoubtedly contributed to the reduction in legal aid spending over the year, the current crisis has been a generation in the making and the system is at breaking point.
Pat Thom, co-convener of the legal Aid Committee said: “The lack of funding continues to create difficulties for firms in recruiting and retaining solicitors within the sector. This is combined with increasing demands placed on those firms which are continuing to do legal aid work, something which has become increasingly acute as we work to deal with the backlog of court cases caused by the pandemic. We will continue to press the government to secure adequate funding for this important sector over the long-term and will work with SLAB to identify improvements in processes.”