Housing Assistance Payment no longer included in the calculation of entitlement to civil legal aid

The Minister of State, Hildegarde Naughton, announced on 28 May that the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP) will no longer be included in the calculation of entitlement to civil legal aid. This comes following Minister for Justice Helen Mc Entee’s commitment to building a “justice system that works for everyone” back in February 2021.

The Justice Plan 2021 is built on five key goals which aim to:

  • Tackle crime, enhance national security, and transform policing;
  • Improve access to justice and modernise the court's system;
  • Strengthen community safety, reduce reoffending, support victims and combat domestic, sexual, and gender-based violence;
  • Deliver a fair immigration system for a digital age; and
  • Accelerate innovation, digital transformation, and climate action across the justice section.

The initiatives to improve access to justice and to modernise the court system will include:

  • Opening up legal education and removing barriers to people becoming solicitors and barristers;
  • Allowing for greater diversity across the justice system;
  • Publishing a new Bill to modernise and update Ireland’s licensing laws;
  • Appointment a CEO of the new Gambling Authority to help prepare the way for a new Regulator;
  • Beginning detailed work on a new system for guidelines for legal costs to help bring costs down and to provide greater transparency on legal fees.

Speaking at the launch back in February, Minister McEntee said that the “Justice Plan 2021 and the actions I will implement this year to begin our programme of reform charts a course for us to build a justice system that works for everyone. This will be an annual process in which we will set out the concrete actions which will be delivered according to strict timelines each year.”

Speaking at the latest announcement, Minister Naughton said she is “pleased to announce that the Legal Aid Board will no longer include the Housing Assistance Payment in their calculation of entitlement to civil legal aid... [t]his will have a positive impact for families and individuals who are of modest means and are in receipt of HAP or any other housing support measure provided by a Department of State or any other public body. This will no longer be an impediment to them accessing legal advice and representation where the other criteria of the scheme are met.”

Click here to read the Justice Plan 2021.




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