No legal aid for prisoners, says Chris Grayling

Foreigners will also be prevented from accessing financial support in civil cases until they have been in the country for one year

Prisoners and those with high incomes will no longer be able to claim legal aid, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said today.

He told MPs that the restrictions represented a "good deal" for taxpayers as the coalition sought to bring down to save £220 million a year from the legal aid bill as part of wider reductions in public spending.

Foreigners who had just arrived in the country would also be barred from accessing legal aid in civil cases until they had been here a year.

In a statement in the House of Commons, Mr Grayling said, "We will introduce a new residency test that will prevent most people who have only just arrived in the UK from accessing civil legal until a year after they had arrived.

"We will limit criminal legal aid for prisoners so that it is not available unnecessarily. There will be no more legal aid available because you don't like your prison.


Legal aid will not be granted in 11,000 cases brought to court by prisoners each year.

Defendants with a annual disposable income of £37,500 a year and at least £3,000 to spare each month after paying essential bills would no longer receive automatic legal aid.

"We will set out new rules that will mean the wealthiest Crown Court defendants - those in households with more than £3,000 in disposable income left after tax, housing costs and other essential outgoings - will have to fund their own legal costs," he said.

"When I set out our initial plans in April, I was clear that they were for consultation. I have kept that promise. What we have agreed, after our discussions with the Law Society on criminal legal aid contracting, is a sensible proposal which is tough but realistic."


The statement came shortly after the Government revealed that it will scrap plans to award legal aid contracts to the lowest bidders following criticisms it would “irrevocably damage” the criminal justice system.

Mr Grayling ditched the proposals after drawing up the Government's latest legal aid reforms with the support of the Law Society for England and Wales.

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan accused him of a "climb-down" over the plans.

Other cost-saving measures, such as the introduction of a cap on contracts for duty solicitor work at police stations, will go ahead as planned.

Barrister-turned-MP Karl Turner had earlier raised fears that price-competitive tendering, designed to reduce the £2 billion spent on legal aid, would allow multinational firms to provide justice at the lowest cost.

The Labour MP had told MPs he believed it would lead to private companies such as G4S and Serco dominating the legal aid market at the expense of smaller firms who possess greater expertise.

Instead, law firms seeking a legal aid contract will be subject to certain criteria but price will not be a factor.

Mr Grayling said he would also lift a cap on the number of contracts to be awarded, which law firms feared could have closed 1,200 businesses.

There will also be a 17.5 percent cut in legal fees which is to be introduced in stages. While fee reductions for solicitors were "inevitable", these would be phased in from early 2014 but there would still be a legal entitlement to legal aid for anyone arrested, he said.

He added that, with cuts of a third to his department, he was trying to implement the same reductions to the legal aid budget.

He said the system was currently one of the most expensive in the world, which was "simply not sustainable" for the future.

Mr Grayling earlier said that he intends to set up a working party made up of the Law Society, Bar and judiciary to investigate ways to cut the cost of brief hearings at Magistrates' and Crown Courts.

Ideas include carrying out pre-trial hearings via video-link or email to avoid defendants and their lawyers travelling long distances to appear in front of a judge for a matter of minutes.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power