Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (565)

Éamon Ó Cuív

Question:

565. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if consideration is being given to increasing the income threshold for free legal aid from the present level of €18,000 and also to increasing the mortgage or rent allowance in assessing means from €8,000 maximum per annum in view of the fact that these income thresholds are perceived as restrictive for persons on modest incomes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [35004/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Legal Aid Board periodically reviews the operation of the civil legal aid scheme and submits proposals, including proposals related to eligibility, to my Department. My Department works with the Legal Aid Board on an on going basis  in evaluating all such proposals with the aim of optimising the ability of the Board to provide civil legal aid to persons of insufficient means.   It is not currently proposed to raise the income thresholds, having regard to competing resource demands on the part of the Board, and the overall funding available.

Ensuring that all eligible persons have access to civil legal aid and advice is a priority for the Government and the Legal Aid Board.  The Government has prioritised and maintained the Legal Aid Board budget in recent years, ensuring that its budget allocation has increased from nearly €30.37m in 2011 to €40.796m for 2019.  This represents an increase of over 34%.