The government has launched a consultation on new measures that will give those facing eviction enhanced legal support.
Launched by the Ministry of Justice, the document reveals changes that will be introduced to the way legal aid is offered to struggling tenants who at risk of losing their homes.
The consultation is to run for eight weeks and looks at how to improve the Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme (HPCDS) which gives tenants free ‘on the day’ legal advice to tenants facing eviction and home owners facing repossession.
Proposals include remodelling how the HPCS works, expanding its scope so tenants and home owners are offered a wider range of advice earlier on and reforming how its fee structure works.
The consultation is similar to an earlier effort which was abandoned after the pandemic swept it and changed the way courts worked.
The Law Society of England and Wales vice president Lubna Shuja (pictured) has given a cautious but qualified welcome to the consultation.
“It would be a positive step for non-means tested legal advice for those facing repossession to be available prior to court hearings and for that advice to include guidance on welfare benefits and debt,” she says.
“However, there are serious sustainability issues in legal aid housing, as proven by the extent of the housing legal aid deserts. Those facing repossession will not be able to access vital legal advice if there is no provider in their area. Considerable investment is still needed to tackle these issues.”