The long-awaited review of legal aid reforms will not be published by the end of this year, the Ministry of Justice has confirmed.

The department today admitted the review is not yet complete and will be published instead 'early in the New Year'.

The MoJ had initially planned to assess the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act within five years of its April 2013 implementation.

That deadline was missed, but justice secretary David Gauke subsequently pledged to publish by the end of this year.

The MoJ says the further delay is due to the wide-ranging nature of the review and sheer number of stakeholders that have submitted evidence.

A spokesperson said: 'We have met with over 100 organisations and individuals since March and their views have been extremely valuable.

'Legal aid plays an important role in ensuring people can resolve their legal problems and last year we spent £1.6 billion funding legal services for those who needed them.'

Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said it was 'simply unacceptable' that, with the further delays, it has taken the government two years to complete the review. He said: 'The Government must now ensure that this has not been two wasted years. Its review must outline serious proposals, and guarantee the new investment, needed to repair the widespread damage that Tory cuts have caused to our legal aid system.'