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Legal Opinion: Welfare State

Question for Ministry of Justice

UIN HL10131, tabled on 9 November 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce early access legal advice for social welfare issues.

Answered on

23 November 2020

We are carefully considering a number of changes across the full breadth of early legal support including for social welfare issues, focusing on what works for the people who need it.

Legal aid is central to access to justice, but it is only one part of a broader picture. We also intend to explore the role technology can play in helping people identify and resolve their legal issues, and will continue to review this as we recover from Covid-19. We want to be as ambitious as possible in this space to enhance further the availability of early support.

We have recently delivered additional investment of over £5m for not for profit organisations who provide specialist legal advice, such as Law Centres, and a number of other charities. In addition, in partnership with the Access to Justice Foundation, we have launched our £3.1m grant to fund services to help litigants in person dealing with a civil or family law matter. The new grant is designed to fund services provided at local, regional and national levels with the aim of understanding more about how they can combine to help people. Over £750,000 has already been awarded to national charities establishing new services that can be accessed across England and Wales, as well as to a number of specialist advice organisations supporting people through the COVID-19 pandemic.

A further £2m is being awarded this autumn to smaller not-for-profit organisations working in partnership at regional and local levels. This new grant is in addition to the more than £9m that the MoJ has invested in support for litigants in person, since 2015, through our existing Litigants in Person Support Strategy.