Bar Council Budget response: The Ministry of Justice is becoming the “pauper of Whitehall”

Chancellor urged to leave his “Westminster bubble” to see true impact of underinvestment

Responding to the Autumn Budget statement, Andrew Walker QC, Chair of the Bar Council, said: “Despite new research that shows that, for 78 per cent of the surveyed public, justice is as important as health and education, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has chosen to leave the Ministry of Justice high and dry by slashing its budget yet again, by another £300m to £6bn.  The Ministry of Justice is becoming the pauper of Whitehall, with the courts, prisons and legal aid seeing no way out of their current crisis.  Even if the Chancellor has been cooped up in Number 11 Downing Street, he cannot fail to be aware of the day-to-day challenges our justice system is facing. Failures in the system are coming to increasing prominence; cases are collapsing, vulnerable people are having to defend themselves in court, and many are unable to get access to legal advice when they need it.

“While huge sums have been found for other areas of public spending, the Treasury can manage just £21.5m for the ‘wider justice system’. We have yet to hear where this drop in the ocean will be invested. We invite the Chancellor to leave the Westminster bubble and experience the real world in our courts and advice centres, to see what a lack of investment in our once renowned justice system looks like to those involved and to the ordinary people struggling to pursue their rights and to address their own burning injustices.”

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