Project Means Test: Research

The Idea

We all know it’s usually the YLALs who are dealing with the absolute frustration of completing legal aid applications. We’re the ones who have to apologise to the new enquiry and explain that, unfortunately, even though they can barely afford to travel to work, the Ministry of Justice is of the opinion that they earn too much money to justify them being provided with publicly funded legal representation.

The means test applied by the Legal Aid Agency has not increased since 2013 and so, as time goes on and inflation continues, more and more people are denied legal aid. The Ministry of Justice has announced, as part of the Legal Aid, Sentencing, and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) Post-Implementation Review, that they will be conducting an analysis of the current means test.

YLAL made a substantive submission to the LASPO Post-Implementation Review and are planning how we can best utilise the incredible experience and expertise of our members to ensure we can make a further submission in respect of the means test review.

As YLALs – those most likely to be taking the new enquiry through the means test – you are the very best placed to help us in gathering evidence which we can use to show that the current means test is not fit for purpose and that legal aid is frequently being refused for those who are unable to pay for legal representation.

The Project

We have created a googleform with questions about the reason(s) a new enquiry failed the means test. We want to use this form to collect quantitive data on the financial situations of the people who fail the means test.

The form is very straightforward and shouldn’t take longer than a couple of minutes to complete. We won’t collect any personal identifiable data, and we’ve included a sentence for you to read to the new enquiry so they can give their consent to the data being collected.

We have drafted a letter for you to send to your employer to explain what we are doing and why, so you can get their consent to participate in the data collection research (we’ve included a section about GDPR, so you don’t need to worry about that, either!)

We need to get as many YLALs as possible to collect this data for us, and as many firms as possible engaged in the research – the more data we have, the stronger submissions we can make about why the current means test is not working.


Do I need my firm’s permission?

Although we are not collecting personally identifiable information, we think it’s best to get permission from your supervisor – you can send them this letter, to get their consent for you to take part (you can also suggest that they roll it out firm-wide, so we can collect even more data to work with!)

If your employer would like to see what questions are asked, they can see the full form by clicking here.

Do I need to worry about GDPR?

We’re not collecting any information which could identify individuals. But, to get the new enquiry’s consent, we suggest saying the following:

“Young Legal Aid Lawyers is researching who can’t access legal aid and why. Would you be happy for us anonymise your financial details and let them use it for their research? They won’t receive any of your personal information.” 

How do I access the GoogleForm?

Just click here.

Any other questions?

If you are interested in taking part, or if you have any questions, please let us know by emailing us.