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RATES RAISED FOR PUBLICLY FUNDED LEGAL SERVICES

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The financial threshold for receiving publicly funded legal services ...
The financial threshold for receiving publicly funded legal services

is being raised to take account of increases in state benefits.

Announcing the new levels today, government minister Baroness

Scotland said:

'We are raising the eligibility levels for people to receive

assistance from the Community Legal Service and Criminal Defence

Service (formerly known as legal aid). The new levels follow the

major changes we made in December 2001, which opened up state funded

civil legal advice to five million more people. These changes are

more modest in intent and percentage increases, as they represent a

refinement rather than a major reform. They have been made to keep

pace with rises in state benefits also coming into effect today.

'The new regime introduced last December has generally been very

successful. However, we are aware of a few cases where the current

rules can work to the disadvantage of those with large numbers of

dependants, especially where they are in receipt of certain benefits.

We are currently looking into how we can ensure that the most needy

do remain entitled to public funding.'

The changes taking effect from 8 April 2002, see an increase of 1.7%

for the Community Legal Service (formerly civil legal aid), which

equates to the following sums:

- For all levels of service, the Gross Income Cap is increased to

#2,034 per month (from£2,000);

- For Legal Help; Help at Court and Legal Representation before

the Immigration Adjudicators or Immigration Appeal Tribunal, the

disposable monthly income limit rises to£611 (from£601). The

capital limit remains at£3,000.

- For Family Mediation; Help with Mediation; Legal Representation

for Family Proceedings before a magistrates' court, the disposable

monthly income limit rises to£695 (from£683). The capital limit

remains at£8,000.

- For General Family Help; Legal Representation and Support

Funding, the disposable monthly income limit rises to£695 (from

£683). The free limit rises to£263 (from£259). The capital

threshold remains at£8,000.

The eligibility levels for the Criminal Defence Service (formerly

criminal legal aid) are increased as follows:

- For advice and assistance, the weekly disposable income limit rises

from£87 to£89. The disposable capital limit remains£1,000.

- For advocacy assistance, the disposable income limit rises from

£186 to£189. The disposable capital limit remains£3,000.

- When a court is considering making a Recovery of Defence Costs

Order, the gross income below which an Order will not normally be

made rises from£24,000 to£24,500. The capital and equity limits

remain unchanged.

Notes

The Community Legal Service (CLS) and the Criminal Defence Service

(CDS) are administered by the Legal Services Commission, and were set

up in April 2000 to provide publicly funded legal advice and

representation (formerly known as legal aid). Public funding is only

available to an individual with limited means, whose income and

capital falls below set limits.

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