To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of extending the eligibility criteria for legal aid for (a) special guardians and (b) prospective special guardians, including the removal of means testing; and if he will publish any economic modelling undertaken in relation to that assessment.
In February 2019 as part of the Legal Support Action Plan, we committed to bringing special guardianship orders into scope of legal aid.
Although work was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic response, we are intending to look into the role of special guardians and at the scope for extending legal aid to special guardians in private law proceedings as part of wider consideration of the civil legal aid scheme more generally.
We are currently conducting a review of the means test for legal aid. We plan to conclude the review in later 2021, at which point we will publish a full consultation paper setting out our future policy proposals in this area which will include a full impact assessment. We will take these proposals into consideration for the approach to means testing when looking into special guardianship orders.