Vulnerable groups set to benefit from improved legal aid support

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Some of the most vulnerable people in society will be given enhanced support through their legal aid after changes unveiled today (21 April 2020).

Changes made by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) include expanding evidence requirements needed to qualify for legal aid for domestic abuse victims, to make this process easier, and reinstating immediate access to individual help for debt, discrimination and special educational needs (SEN) cases – initially via video link, then face to face when social distancing measures are no longer in place.

The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) will also be given the power to backdate payments for applications of legal help for inquests to the time at which the application was made, rather than when the application was granted.

Justice Minister, Alex Chalk MP said:

We are improving support for some of the most vulnerable people in the justice system – something that is particularly important during these challenging times.

This is the latest step in delivering our vision of a system that focuses on individuals and enables them to resolve legal problems quickly and easily.

MOJ is delivering on key government commitments made last year to broaden access to civil legal aid by reviewing legal aid means testing.

Alongside these measures, additional support is available to protect victims of domestic abuse during the coronavirus outbreak. The government recently published guidance on applying for domestic abuse injunctions remotely and we are boosting domestic abuse helplines and online support with an additional £2 million.