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Calls for a review of means testing for victims seeking legal aid have been backed by the Staffordshire Commissioner.
Current regulations mean all assets held, including any equity held in their home, are assessed.
But New Era – a support service for people suffering domestic abuse – says victims may not be able to sell the property to release funds if it is jointly-owned by a perpetrator.
The organisation’s appeal for a rethink of the rules has been backed by Commissioner Matthew Ellis.
“If you’re a victim of domestic abuse, you might need to go to court, and that can be a costly business – that’s why I’m backing New Era’s call for a thorough review of means testing for victims seeking legal aid.
“This is about people’s safety. Those suffering from domestic abuse shouldn’t be discouraged from getting the vital legal help they need because of their financial situation.”Staffordshire Commissioner Matthew Ellis
Mickey Hemmings, New Era’s acting head of service, added:
“Experiencing domestic abuse can be devastating enough without the added worry of how to pay for specialist legal advice.
“The current eligibility criteria for legal aid means many vulnerable people are potentially having to navigate the legal process without the representation they need.
“Over the past 12 months, we’ve become aware of an increasing number of victims of domestic abuse missing out, either because their income is just above the threshold or because of the equity in their home which they jointly own with their abuser.
“Making non-means tested legal aid available for domestic abuse cases would allow all victims to access legal aid and get the support and representation they need.”Mickey Hemmings, New Era
For more information on the support available through New Era, visit www.new-era.uk.