Advice and assistance is available, without contribution for your client if they are directly or indirectly receiving:

  • Income support
  • Income-related employment and support allowance
  • an income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • Universal Credit

Further to this, A&A is available to your client if their disposable income and disposable capital (for the seven days up to and including the date of application) are below the specified limits.

Client’s income within the limits

Advice and assistance is also available, subject to payment of a contribution, to your client whose disposable income is within the limits specified in regulations. You must take into account their total income, net of tax and national insurance, from all sources for the seven days immediately preceding the application.

Your client may have to pay a contribution. This is based on your client’s disposable income.  You collect it and do not pay it to us.  Whether you collect the contribution is your own decision.  You may ask for it in one payment or by instalments or decide to forgo it.  If you put in a claim for payment of fees and outlays out of the Fund, we will deduct the contribution from your account regardless of whether you actually collect it.

Eligibility limits

The limits of disposable income and disposable capital, which determine whether your client is eligible and whether a contribution is due, are specified in regulations and are normally up-rated each year.

To help you assess eligibility we publish a Keycard that contains a summary of the assessment rules, the current income and capital limits and the table of contributions.

 

Evidence of your client’s financial eligibility

You should get documentary evidence of your client’s financial position and tell us what this evidence was.

If you cannot get documentary evidence when you admit your client to advice and assistance, you should see it before applying for an increase unless you can show there is real urgency.

We would recommend that you should see the following:

For income

  • Where your client is employed, a recent wage slip or bank statement
  • Where your client is receiving benefits, a letter of award, benefit book (in the limited cases where payment is made in this way) or a bank statement (which might simply be an ATM receipt showing the credit)

For capital – even if your client is in receipt of a passported benefit

  • A bank statement, pass book and certificate for savings and/or investments. Where your client does not have any capital they can indicate and declare this on the online declaration form AA/LAO/CHLA.

We appreciate that in some circumstances your client may not have documentary evidence available when consulting you. You may be satisfied from the limited information available but you must still seek verification from your client at the earliest opportunity.

Once you have this evidence you should tell us what this was. Keep a copy of this verification on file, so that it can be seen at peer review or at a compliance inspection by us.

If you have not seen any evidence or provided a satisfactory reason, you may not be paid for the work undertaken including any outlays.

Covid-19

For the period of the Covid-19 restrictions, solicitors must still be satisfied that the client is financially eligible, and you should record in a file note that you have discussed the eligibility tests for A&A with your clients and how you satisfied yourself that the clients are eligible. Relying on the information provided verbally by the client is acceptable.

When completing online applications, in the sections where you are asked if you have seen “the most recent evidence of the applicant’s capital and income”, you should:

  • say ‘No’
  • choose the ‘Other’ option
  • give the explanation ‘Coronavirus’.

In this section