You are here

Government consults on extending legal aid for potential evictees

9 October 2019

Add comment

New proposals aimed at improving access to legal aid for anyone at risk of losing their home have been put forward by the government.

The government has launched a 12-week consultation setting out plans to improve the Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme (HPCDS). This offers free “on-the-day” legal advice to anyone in danger of being evicted from their home or having their property repossessed, regardless of their financial circumstances. 

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said the continuation of the HPCDS is of paramount importance, given the vital role it plays in ensuring access to justice and the timely resolution of legal problems.

The proposed changes aim to ensure the scheme keeps pace with changes in the wider justice system.

The MoJ said it has worked with stakeholders over a number of months and agreed a package of measures that would ensure the sustainability of the scheme, improving access to legal advice and representation for anyone facing possession proceedings in court.

The consultation proposes granting contracts for individual courts rather than larger geographical areas; allowing providers to claim for the HPCDS fee in addition to the follow up Legal Help fee; introducing a set attendance fee for all schemes, replacing the existing nil session payment; and introducing reasonable costs for travel as part of the competition element of the bid.

Justice Minister, Wendy Morton MP (pictured) said: “Housing repossession and homelessness are two of the most serious civic problems that any person can experience. This ambitious new model will provide greater support for those who rely on it most, while being more financially viable for providers and ensuring long-term sustainability.”

The housing possession court duty scheme consultation will be open until January 2020 and can be accessed here. A paper summarising responses will be published within three months of the closing date of the consultation.