Millions of households including those on Universal Credit to be eligible for free legal help | The Sun

MILLIONS more people on low incomes will be able to get free legal help through a £25million a year shake-up.

Six million more vulnerable people and families will be able to apply for taxpayer support to go to court.

Domestic abuse victims on Universal Credit and who are seeking a protection order from their abusive partners will also be able to get funding more easily without means tests.

Those who share a house with their abuser will also benefit from changes to the rules surrounding disputed or inaccessible assets.

This means that cash held in assets like joint bank accounts will no longer be considered when assessing someone's financial eligibility for aid.

It also means that victims of coercive control will be able to get legal help without needing to access funds from their joint assets, too.

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Free legal aid provides support for people who are unable to afford legal representation or need financial help in taking issues to court.

The measures are expected to come into force over the next two years and will see the income thresholds to qualify for free magistrates' court representation and civil legal aid rise.

The upper income threshold to qualify for free magistrates' court representation for criminal cases will rise from £22,325 to £34,950.

The government will also increase the upper income threshold to qualify for free civil legal aid from £31,884 to £34,950.

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Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Alex Chalk, said: "Widening access to legal aid secures justice and strengthens the rule of law.

"These changes mean more vulnerable people like domestic abuse victims will be able to access the protection of the courts."

What else is changing?

Free legal representation will also be available to under 18s and legal aid will also be made available to everyone in Crown Courts.

Parents challenging traumatic and difficult medical decisions such as the withdrawal of their child's life support could also be eligible for free legal representation.

It came after reports found serious failings in the family courts were re-traumatizing victims – and domestic abuse victims were not taken seriously.

Farah Nazeer, boss of Women Aid said: "We welcome the expansion of legal aid, which we have campaigned hard for and is vitally important for survivors, but we now need to see details to ensure all survivors of domestic abuse can access justice."

How can I get help now?

Anyone needing advice on domestic abuse can find support from a range of organisations and charities.

The Survivor's Handbook which is available on the Women's Aid website is free and provides information for women on a wide range of issues, such as housing, money, helping your children, and your legal rights.

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If you need support or are worried about someone else, call the 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

You can also find help and support for domestic abuse on Gov.UK.

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