We are seeking the views of the profession and others in a consultation launched today about how we assess the financial eligibility of people applying for civil legal aid.
Evidence and insights into any impacts on protected characteristics and corporate parenting responsibilities are particularly sought.
There are two main sections to the consultation.
Provides an overview of the key steps involved in means assessment, setting out our general approach to making decisions.
We want to hear your views on these steps in the assessment, to identify possible unintended consequences that you see resulting from our current approach. This feedback will inform future consideration of any need for change.
Concerns areas of change we have identified and seek your views on.
We want to hear your views on how proposals for change may impact on applicants, the legal profession and others who support individuals requiring legal assistance. This might be support workers or advice providers.
The consultation is the start of a process that will see us more clearly stating our policies and guidance for those applying for legal aid and our staff assessing the information provided.
The consultation is part of our Guidance on the Administration of Legal Aid project and follows work we’ve been doing with Scottish Government colleagues to agree a programme of work that can give effect to some of the themes set out in the government’s consultation on reforming legal aid.
This was required in advance of changes that the government may decide to take forward that would need new legislation.
There was strong support in the consultation for simplification of the current system, while maintaining broad scope.
We are seeking views on the way ahead that we’ve identified for changes to our policy and their benefits and disadvantages. We are also seeking views on how we assess financial eligibility at the moment and what guidance would be most beneficial for those applying to us. In particular, we are keen to find out what you can tell us about possible impacts for applicants’ equality groups, as well as those who are or have been in the care of a local authority.
Although our work so far has been focused on financial eligibility assessment for civil legal aid, we recognise the importance of consistency in decision-making wherever feasible and any options we take forward will also be considered for both the children’s and criminal schemes.
Please download the consultation document for full details and for information on how to respond.
The consultation closes at 5pm on 26 January 2022.
If you have any questions about the consultation, please contact Cindy Morrice, Civil Finance Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org