Child protection cases received the most civil legal aid funds in West Lindsey last year, figures reveal.
Ministry of Justice and Legal Aid Agency statistics show such cases ran up £323,000 in claims over the 2018-19 financial year – equivalent to 68 per cent of the area’s civil legal aid costs.
Mental health cases followed with a claims bill worth £57,900, and public law cases involving children accounted for £47,300.
Legal aid is public money paid to people who can’t afford to hire a lawyer.
In total, there were 35 claims for legal aid in West Lindsey’s civil courts over the period, down from 63 five years ago.
They generated costs amounting to £475,000.
Of these funds, 68 per cent were for solicitors, who provide legal advice, 23 per cent for the counsels conducting the cases, and a further nine per cent were disbursements.
Across England and Wales, legal aid providers dealt with some 69,000 claims in the first three months of this year alone, at an estimated cost of £185 million.
That’s eight per cent more than in the same quarter last year.
But the Law Society warned this still falls short of bridging a “gulf in funding” for expert advice.
Simon Davis, society president said: “Make no mistake, swingeing cuts to legal aid mean more and more people have to fend for themselves without expert advice, legal problems are more likely to escalate, and a growing number have no choice but to try and represent themselves in court without support from a solicitor. Access to justice for all – regardless of wealth or status – is a cornerstone of society.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “Last year we spent around £750 million on civil legal aid and will always ensure people who need it the most have access to legal support.
“We recently set out a range of new measures to improve legal support and access to legal aid.”