I am always working on actions to improve the situation in relation to legal aid provision.
I make it clear to members that the Scottish Government cannot compel private firms or solicitors to provide legal aid services. We provide civil solicitors through the Civil Legal Assistance Office. They have always—I say this in response to the member’s point about geography—covered a wide geographical area and have largely been based in city centres near to the courts.
Currently, we face a challenging public finances environment that is due not least to choices that the UK Government has made and which are, as we know, resulting in a reduced budget in Scotland. [
As I have laid out, it is imperative that we have access to justice, and I have made a commitment in that regard. This Government has made a recent offer of £11 million of funding, which is a substantial amount in the current context in which we find ourselves. [