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Legal Aid Scheme

Volume 496: debated on Thursday 16 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice with reference to the answer of 20 February 2008 to the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, South and East Cleveland, Official Report, column 779W, on the legal aid scheme, what proportion of the population of England and Wales was eligible for civil legal aid in 2008. (286515)

Civil legal aid covers a number of different areas of civil and family justice, and the extent to which applicants’ financial circumstances are taken into account in granting legal aid varies considerably across these areas. It is therefore not possible to give figures for the number of people eligible for civil legal aid as a whole. However, some estimates of the likely number that would be eligible are available.

The estimated proportion of the population of England and Wales who were eligible for civil legal aid, for categories in which financial circumstances were taken into account, was 29 per cent. in 2007. We do not have a figure for 2008. In 2009, we estimate that the figure for categories in which financial circumstances are taken into account is 36 per cent.. This increase in the eligible proportion of the population is likely to be due to the effects of the recession plus the 5 per cent. increase in the civil legal aid financial eligibility limits in April 2009. In 2007-08 civil legal aid helped over 1 million people with their civil and family legal problems.