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Domestic Abuse: Legal Advice

Volume 698: debated on Tuesday 29 June 2021

What recent assessment he has made of the effect of legal advice deserts on the ability of victims of domestic abuse to access justice. (901937)

We are committed to ensuring that civil legal aid remains accessible to those who need it, including, in particular, victims of domestic abuse. The Legal Aid Agency keeps market capacity under review to ensure adequate provision across England and Wales. We are reviewing the legal aid means test, including in relation to victims of domestic abuse. On 3 March, the Chancellor announced a further £19 million package to tackle domestic abuse, and we have made changes to the evidence requirements to make it easier to access legal aid.

Too many victims of domestic abuse still end up in the family court with no representation, as litigants in person. Does the Minister agree that we should make legal aid available for all victims of domestic abuse?

The hon. Lady is absolutely right that legal aid is a vital pillar of support to many people, which is why we have taken steps to ensure that the evidence requirements for those who want access to legal aid have been relaxed. We have also gone further; we have supported organisations such as RCJ Advice through its Finding Legal Options for Women Survivors service, which is a fantastic digital portal to assist people in the agony of that moment—as they may be in their home circumstances—to receive the kind of support that they require so that they are best placed to get a non-molestation order or an occupation order. We are determined to stand up for victims of domestic abuse.