The impact of legal aid capital and contribution thresholds for victims of domestic violence

During the passage of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) through parliament the government promised to continue legal aid funding for injunctions to protect victims of domestic abuse.

However, when LASPO was introduced in April 2013 it made changes to the legal aid eligibility rules regarding capital and income, and over the last five years victims on very low incomes and in receipt of benefits have been asked to make contributions towards their legal aid. Many victims are unable to afford these contributions and are being forced to remain at risk.

During October and November 2014, additional data was collected from callers to the National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) helpline in relation to their income and capital, to assess the impact of the changes to eligibility criteria on their ability to proceed with a domestic violence injunction.

One in five (20%) of the 2,026 callers to the NCDV helpline who were eligible to apply for a domestic violence injunction were not able to proceed with their application because they could not afford the contributions towards their legal aid.

This work was undertaken in partnership with Rights of Women and Legal Aid Practitioners Group (LAPG) and we are now submitting this analysis so that it may be taken into consideration in the government’s post-implementation review into the impact of LASPO.

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