Thank you for contacting me about legal aid in asylum and immigration cases.
The Ministry of Justice continues to make provision of £1.7 billion a year in legal aid generally and a new Legal Support Action Plan has been announced which will ensure resources are available for those who need it most.
Measures in the action plan include a new focus on the individual and early intervention, as well as greater support for those who need solutions to problems before they become entangled in the legal system. The action plan will allow for an additional £3 million to support those representing themselves through the court system.
The Government continues to make a number of changes to legal aid, including undertaking a comprehensive review of the means test, improving and simplifying the exceptional case funding scheme, making face-to-face advice more readily available in a number of civil matters, and undertaking an awareness campaign for legal aid and legal support.
The Civil Legal Aid (Remuneration) (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020: I understand your concerns regarding this issue. The Government has taken on board concerns expressed by those in the sector and decided not to replace the fee system for online asylum and immigration appeals. I believe this was the right thing to do while Ministers set out the next steps to ensure a fair and proportionate fee scheme for this area of work.
For immigration matters legal aid may be available through the Exceptional Case Funding scheme. This legal aid may be available in any case where failure to provide it would breach, or risk breaching, the European Convention on Human Rights or enforceable EU law, subject to the statutory means and merits tests.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP