Justice budget slashed by a tenth over two years

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Nov 23, 2017
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Angela Rafferty, QC, said: “The system is desperate; it cannot endure any more cuts”

Times photographer Jack Hill

Spending plans for the Ministry of Justice are down by £600 million or 9 per cent over the next two years. 

The budget for the department is to fall from £6.6 billion in this financial year, to £6.2 billion in 2018-19 and £6 billion in 2019-20 under spending forecast figures released yesterday.

Evaporating cash at the ministry will cast further doubts over the possibility of a boost to civil legal aid eligibility, as the government announced a long-awaited review of the impact of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012.

The estimates were first released in the spring statement from the chancellor but published alongside yesterday’s budget.”

Angela Rafferty, QC, chairwoman of the Criminal Bar Association, said: “The poor and vulnerable in society are being denied access to justice.

“While the official budget statement is silent about this vital pillar of state we can see from the spending forecast that there will be a £600 million reduction in an already meagre and inadequate budget for the ministerial department.”

She added: “The system is desperate; it cannot endure any more cuts.”

Explaining the departmental resource budgets, however, the Treasury notes that the reduction would not be as much as anticipated.

“Given potential new spending and administrative pressures faced by departments in 2019‑20, the government has decided not to proceed with the remaining £1.1 billion reduction in spending in that year,” it says.

“Taking these changes together, departmental spending in 2019-20 will therefore be higher than envisaged at budget 2016 by £2.1 billion.”

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