In order to accommodate the introduction of Universal Credit, the list of passporting benefits for civil and criminal legal aid was amended to include Universal Credit as an interim measure.
As Universal Credit has a wider scope than the existing passporting benefits that it replaces, the Government set out proposals seeking to limit those recipients of Universal Credit who will be eligible for legal aid.
The Ministry of Justice launched a consultation in March 2017 seeking views on Government proposals.
In our response, we made a number of recommendations, which included:
- Carillion agrees with proposals to limit the passporting through the legal aid means tests to Universal Credit recipients with zero income from employment, while continuing to passport recipients of legacy benefits.
- We agree that the total amount for housing in the Universal Credit award should be disregarded when assessing a claim for legal aid.
- We agree that where there are contrary interests, earnings should be taken into account separately when assessing entitlement to legal aid. We believe that those most in need of advice and with limited resource continue to have an avenue of recourse.