Changes to allowances for the Civil financial eligibility test

This update has information on changes to our policies when assessing eligibility for civil legal aid.

The changes affect:

  • allowances for housing
  • work related allowances for wage or salaried employment

The new approach is effective for applications received/applications with a computation start date on or after 8 April 2024.

Submitting Financial Eligibility Form 2

We are updating the Financial Eligibility Form 2 to reflect the changes to our policy.

We appreciate that the Form 2 is often completed in advance of actually making an application for legal aid. The updated version of the Form 2 is being made available before 8 April for this reason.

The updated Form 2 will be available on the website from Monday 25 March and can be used immediately.

We will accept the old version of the Form 2 for applications received after 8 April if this has already been completed by your client prior to the updated version going live.

However, this may mean that we need to contact your client for more information if the new changes introduced impact on their circumstances.

We will also accept the new version of the Form 2 if submitted prior to the effective date of 8 April.

What changes are we making?

Housing costs

Our current policy is to make an allowance for the rent or mortgage amount being paid by a person concerned for their primary residence, where their accommodation is either rented through a formal agreement or owned.

We will now be making an allowance in these circumstances for the amount the person is liable to pay.

This change is intended to reflect the priority debt liabilities of the person concerned, regardless of whether they are actually meeting these liabilities or not.

All other policies in relation to housing costs remain the same.

Work related allowances for wage or salaried employment

Our current policy is to make an allowance for the necessary travel costs paid by the person concerned to and from their place of employment.

We will now be making an allowance based on the HMRC mileage rate where the person concerned uses their personal vehicle to travel to and from work.

We will continue to make an allowance for the costs paid when the person is using public transport.

All other policies in relation to work related allowances remain the same.

New and updated guidance

Our legal aid guidance ‘Civil legal aid: how we calculate income and what’s included‘ has also been updated to reflect the changes to our policy.

As part of the changes, we’ve also published our policies and decision-makers’ guidance (DMG) for assessing allowances in Civil Legal Aid as part of our GALA project.

The policies and guidance on our GALA website are intended primarily for our decision-makers for:

  • assessing the factors we take into consideration in applications and accounts
  • detailing the information we take into account and the decisions we take as a result of that information.

As part of the GALA project, our existing legal aid guidance for solicitors on the SLAB website is reviewed and updated, as appropriate.

It remains the primary legal aid reference for solicitors and has links to published policy statements or decision-makers’ guidance, if you need that at any time.

The new policy statements and DMG’s are all in relation to the different statutory allowances we will make from the income of a person concerned in our assessment of financial eligibility for Civil Legal Aid.

These are available on the GALA website for the following:

  • housing costs
  • work related allowances for wage or salaried employment
  • spouse and dependents’ allowances
  • maintenance allowances

More information

Please contact Kim Blance, Civil Finance Senior Specialist

Telephone: 0131 240 2091