Legal Aid Scheme: Housing

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 15th July 2019.

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Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what estimate he has made of the number of local authority areas that do not have a housing legal aid provider in England and Wales.

Photo of Paul Maynard Paul Maynard The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The LAA commissions services on a ‘Procurement Area’ basis. Procurement Areas align to one or a number of combined local authority areas and have been developed based on various local factors.

Individuals are not limited to accessing legal advice providers in the Procurement Area where they live and may access services from providers located in neighbouring local authorities, or at other contracted legal advice providers located locally.

The LAA has recently tendered for new face-to-face housing contracts across the 134 housing and debt procurement areas across England and Wales. As of 30 June 2019, there is at least one provider offering housing and debt services in all but 4 procurement areas, and the LAA is considering how to secure provision in these areas and will set out next steps shortly.

Legal advice is still available in these areas through the Civil Legal Advice telephone service and irrespective of a client’s location in England and Wales, legal advice for housing remains available through a telephone service as well.

The following table shows the number of providers in each of the locations enquired about, and the number of procurement areas which fall within each.

The Legal Aid Agency keeps availability of legal support under constant review and takes urgent action whenever it has concerns.

Geographical Location

# of Procurement Areas

# of Providers

London

30

235

Wales

8

35

Other

96

212

This government spent £1.6 billion on legal aid last year and in addition to the Civil Legal Advice Telephone service, we are investing £5m in innovative technologies to help people access legal support wherever they are.

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