is being raised to take account of increases in state benefits.
Announcing the new levels today, government minister Baroness
'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
- 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
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.