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Legal aid needs to be reviewed - ESS

Legal aid needs to be reviewed - ESS

Tuesday 21 May 2019

Legal aid needs to be reviewed - ESS

All aspects of legal aid will be reviewed as soon as time and resources allow.

Employment & Social Security has confirmed that legal aid, on which £2.9 million was spent last year, has not been reviewed for a number of years and needs to be “as a matter of good governance”.

“We became responsible for political oversight of legal aid in 2016,” said ESS President Michelle Le Clerc. “We’re not aware of any recent reviews of the service prior to our taking responsibility, so think it would now be timely as a matter of good governance to look at all aspects of the legal aid provision.”

Last year’s spend was a 1.2% increase on 2017, which was spent assisting with 2,128 cases. 

£1.7 million was spent on civil cases, with ESS saying the majority of expenditure in this category was on family law cases. 

Criminal cases amounted to £800,000 and administration to £400,000, with all of these figures representing only a minor uplift or decrease on 2017. 

The budget for this year has been set at £2.83 million.

court entrance

While the administration budget is capped, the payment of legal aid lawyers’ fees is not and there is discretion for money to be spent over and above the budgeted figure. 

For people who apply, there are currently no set financial limits regarding income. However, the general principle is that people whose family unit has a “residual income” of more than £200 per week will not be eligible for legal aid assistance. 

Residual income is the income you have left after income tax and social security payments, a housing allowance, maintenance payments, childminding costs (if they are to enable you to work) and the “weekly requirements for you and any other dependent members of your family who live with you” have been taken into account. 

People on Income Support are automatically financially eligible for legal aid.

Pictured top: Deputy Michelle Le Clerc. 

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