To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, with reference to the February 2019 Legal Support Action Plan, when he plans to bring forward proposals to extend eligibility for non‑means tested legal aid for parents, or those with parental responsibility, who wish to oppose applications for placement orders or adoption orders in public family law proceedings.
In February 2019 as part of the Legal Support Action Plan, we agreed to remove the means test for those with parental responsibility to oppose placement or adoption orders in family law proceedings and we committed to bringing special guardianship orders into scope of legal aid.
Over the past year many elements of the Action Plan are up and running and work is proceeding on other. For example, the Civil Legal Aid Means Test Review is currently underway and is due to consult in the Autumn of this year, £3.1m has been provided for legal support for litigants in person, and changes have been made to the Civil Legal Aid telephone service, making it easier for people to get face to face advice. Furthermore, we’ve widened the scope of legal aid to cover immigration matters for separated migrant children.
Work onthis specific action has been delayed, most recently due to the focus on the ongoing response to the Covid 19 pandemic and the prioritisation of Covid recovery. However, we still intend to undertake this work and will communicate revised timelines to stakeholders in due course.