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‘Drop in the ocean’ for repo help

The Department for Communities and Local Government has been criticised for offering just £1.5m for free legal advice to the 65,000 homeowners facing repossession this year, equating to just £23 per person.

Housing minister John Healey last week said the Government would be doubling the extra funding for free on-the-spot legal advice in courts for people facing repossession or eviction hearings.

But if just half of people facing repossession took up the funding, they would only get £46 worth of legal advice while if all those people took it up, they would get just £23.

The current hourly rates for legal aid under the housing possession court duty scheme is £84 plus VAT inside London and £79.50 plus VAT outside London, meaning that the scheme would provide funding for less than half an hour of legal advice per person if 32,500 people applied for it.

Fishburns Solicitors partner Harriet Quiney says: “You will be able to get basic advice in this amount of time but it is not going to go very far, especially if it is a complicated case.”

First Action Finance head of communications Jonathan Cornell says: “I am sure that would get eaten up quite quickly. It is a drop in the ocean.”

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