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Legal Aid Scheme: Companies

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 25th June 2020.

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Photo of Karl Turner Karl Turner Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of amending the Standard Monthly Payments received by legal aid firms to support those firms during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Karl Turner Karl Turner Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on the number of housing legal aid providers.

Photo of Karl Turner Karl Turner Shadow Minister (Justice)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of allowing legal aid firms to bill more than twice in 12 months for money owed on cases.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

Firms can elect to be paid by either Standard or Variable Monthly Payments, according to which model may be most advantageous to them. The MoJ continues to review the potential impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on legal aid providers and to consider what more might be done to support them. The Legal Aid Agency has published the details of the current options for financial relief available to providers during the COVID-19 outbreak at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/financial-relief-for-legal-aid-practitioners.

The number of active housing legal aid providers is published by the Legal Aid Agency online, and has remained largely static since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. The outbreak has affected the volume of work available to housing legal aid firms, and we are closely monitoring this impact.

At present housing advice is available at 434 offices in England and Wales. The volume of providers holding legal aid contracts at any given time is subject to change due to market forces and other factors. From March to the present date, 7 offices in total have ceased to provide housing services, due to reasons not specifically associated with the effects of COVID-19.

The Ministry of Justice held a consultation on increasing the number of requests for payment on account that may be made per year. The consultation closed on 16 June 2020, and the limit will be increased from two to four permissible within a twelve-month period. This will be implemented once the necessary updates to infrastructure are completed, and the impact of this change will be kept under review.

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