Legal aid saves significant sums of public money, effectively paying for itself, new research from the Low Commission suggests.
The Low Commission (not to be confused with the Law Commission) is an organisation affiliated with charity the Legal Action Group, working to devise a strategy on “social welfare law”.
Economist Dr Graham Cookson and Dr Freda Mold, both of the University of Surrey, analysed existing social data, concluding that legal aid expenditure provides a meaningful financial return on investment for society, helping to protect people’s homes and livelihoods and reducing demand for expensive emergency assistance.
The researchers write:
“…legal aid not only pays for itself, but it also makes a significant contribution to families/ households, to the local area economics, and also contributes to significant public savings.”
The report cites a Citizens Advice study which found that for every £1 spent on housing advice, the state saved £2.34. For every £1 spent on debt advice , the state saves £2.98, and for every £1 spent on benefits advice, the state saves as much as £8.80.
A different study, by nef consulting, concluded that the social return on every £1 spend in legal aid was as much as £9.
Chairman Lord Colin Low said:
“This research, carried out independently, demonstrates with hard economics the true value of social welfare advice. It can no longer be argued that funding social welfare advice is too much of a burden on the state. Early and necessary interventions from advice and legal support prevent problems and expense further down the line.”
Read the full report here.
Earlier this week, a charity claimed that the government is underspending on its legal aid budget to the extent that it could afford to restore legal aid for some civil matters.