Legal Aid and Funding
A parent or someone with parental responsibility will automatically qualify for legal aid if proceedings have been issued or if the local authority has sent out a PLO letter confirming its intention to issue proceedings. In all other cases (including where a person is not a parent and doesn’t have parental responsibility) there will be be means and merits test to check if legal aid ought to apply.
If Children’s Services issue a PLO letter or make an application to court for care proceedings, a parent or person with parental responsibility is entitled automatically to legal aid regardless of their means.
Representation at child protection meetings is means tested for legal aid, unless the client receives certain benefits such as Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-based Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Guarantee Credit. If you are not eligible for legal aid you would have to pay privately for us to represent you at child protection meetings, unless a PLO letter has been issued by Children’s Services.
Grandparents and other family members are not automatically entitled to legal aid unless they have parental responsibility for the child (which is likely in most cases). Grandparents or other family members who want to be legally represented would have to go through a means tested legal aid application unless they are eligible because they receive certain benefits such as Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-based Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Guarantee Credit. If they do not qualify for legal aid they would have to pay privately unless the local authority were willing to pay our costs. This sometimes happens where the local authority is supporting the grandparents or other family members in obtaining a Special Guardianship Order in care proceedings.