£1,000 asset limit on legal aid eligibility

Legal aid in civil cases will be restricted to people with total assets – including their homes – worth less than £1,000, under measures to be announced later this week. The Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, will warn that payments in England and Wales will be restricted to those "who need it most" as part of a rethink of the £2.1bn-a-year scheme.

At present, anyone with assets worth less than £8,000 qualifies – with those worth up to £3,000 paying nothing and others expected to make a contribution. Under the new system, the limit would be a flat £1,000, with equity in property included for the first time. The contribution expected from claimants would rise to 30 per cent of weekly income .

The measures are expected to also include restrictions on the types of cases legal aid is paid out for. Divorce, employment, medical malpractice and some personal injury and consumer cases, as well as immigration, welfare and school exclusion appeals are thought to be affected.