Bringing back Legal Help: a consultation
I’ve got my shiny new NAWRA hat on.
Some of you might have noticed that the Legal Aid Agency are consulting on bringing Welfare Bens back into scope for Legal Help. It’ll only be in respect of the Housing Court Duty Possession Scheme though; housing solicitors providing what has nominally been titled “Early Help”... once the possession case is listed!
You can read all about it here (link):
NAWRA are hoping to make a contribution to the consultation but we need some data to back up our position so we’ve circulated a survey (link) to try and gather that data.
We’d be very grateful; if you’ve not seen the email, if you could complete it. It’ll take you all of 4 minutes if Surverymonkey’s estimate is close. Ideally it would be done before 10th Jan to give us time to draft the response.
I should probably add that MoJ are pretty serious about this; they’re conscious that LASPO eviscerated the sector and are trying to find politically expedient ways to fix it. Whether this is a solution is yet to be seen…
In a House of Lords debate on Social Welfare Law Cases: Legal Aid yesterday, MoJ Minister Lord Wolfson said -
... following a consultation which concluded in January this year, we will lay legislation later this year proposing better access to social welfare advice for people facing possession proceedings…
Later in the debate, the Minister added -
Regarding housing possession cases ... there is a housing possession court duty scheme. We are running a specific focus on that, because there are areas where people are not getting the advice that they need. That was paused during the pandemic because we put a complete halt on repossessions, but we are now looking at the best way to make sure that we get focused housing advice to people who need it, when they need it.
The Minister also confirmed that -
On 19 January, we laid legislation to pilot the provision of early legal advice for debt, housing and welfare benefit matters. The pilot will commence later this year…
Responding to further questions on the nature of the pilot and whether it would restore legal aid for disability benefits advice, Lord Wolfson added -
We are starting a pilot in both Manchester and Middlesbrough to focus on the point that the noble Lord makes…
... the pilot that I was referring to is a general pilot in relation to social and welfare entitlements… ‘
Further details of the social welfare issues legal advice pilot are set out in a letter from Lord Wolfson to the Justice Select Committee.[ Edited: 2 Feb 2022 at 02:20 pm by Stuart ]