- 26 Aug 2021
The Legal Aid Business Support and Recovery Fund recognises the critical role legal aid firms play in the justice sector as Scotland recovers from COVID-19. It also ensures the availability of legal services for those most affected by the pandemic.
The fund was established following close consultation with the legal profession and was distributed to legal aid practices as part of the Scottish Government’s Recover, Renew and Transform Programme to support the justice sector.
The fund, worth £6.7 million, was established to support legal aid firms and was launched on 4 August and closed for applications on 18 August 2021.
The eligibility criteria for the fund
- your firm must be an active provider of legal aid services, which for the purpose of the Fund means you must have had at least 25 legal aid grant applications granted in 2019/20 and at least 12 granted in 2020/21
- you must support the principles of the Scottish Government’s Renew, Recover and Transform Programme; and
- you must commit to continue to provide Legal Aid services until 31 March 2022
If you received a grant under the previous Scottish Government’s Coronavirus Resilience and Recovery Fund for Legal Aid (CRRF), this would be taken into account in the final calculation of your award.
To receive a grant you must meet the eligibility criteria.
Calculation of grant awards
A provisional award was calculated using your Best Legal Aid Fee income and verified against the records held by The Scottish Legal Aid Board. Any amount received from the CRRF was also taken into account and was deducted in any final grant offer, where applicable. For the purpose of this grant, legal aid income consists exclusively of the Solicitors’ Fees plus the Solicitors-Advocates’ Fees both excluding VAT, paid by the Scottish Legal Aid.
The Best Legal Aid Fee Income is the greatest value among:
- the Legal Aid fee income received by the applicant between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020 and
- the Legal Aid fee income received between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021
Your Best Legal Aid fee income was used to calculate your initial Grant award in the below bandings and any residual funding from the budget of £6.7 million was redistributed in each of the bands in equal shares between those who applied to this fund and met the criteria. Residual funding might arise from fewer applications being received and/or fewer applicants being eligible for awards, and/or the level of previous funding under CRRF reducing the grant payable under this scheme.
Best Legal Aid Fee Income Band
1 - from £0 up to £193,771 – Grant of £6,079
2 – from £193,772 up to £384,860 – Grant of £22,206
3 – from £384,861 (no upper limit) – Grant of £54,990
How the fund was distributed
- total amount of grants paid from the fund was £6,701,800
- total value of initial grants before re-distribution of remaining funds was £5,882,574
- total value of funds redistributed equally between bands and then proportionally shared to those who were eligible for an award in each band was £827,426
- the Scottish Government received 364 applications
- the number of eligible grant awards made after the CRRF was taken into account was 332
- 58 firms applied to this fund who had previously received a payment from CRRF
- of those 58 firms 27 did not receive a payment as the final grant award would be lower than what they had received under CRRF
- 5 applications did not meet the criteria for funding, all 5 were in the band 1 category
Further information on how awards were determined
As part of the assessment process the Scottish Government carried out checks with the Scottish Legal Aid Board to assess if your firm is an active firm. SLAB’s records showed if firms met the required number of at least 25 fee grants for 19/20 and at least 12 fee grants in 20/21. Firms are required to have both of these levels in each year in order to meet the criteria.
Legal Aid on line service is available for firms to check their legal aid fee income for 19/20 fees and 20/21 legal aid fees, this determined which legal aid fee income banding your application was assessed against.
This fund was created in collaboration with the Law Society of Scotland’s legal aid negotiating team, several Bar Associations and the Scottish Solicitor’s Bar Association. It was agreed that those who had received a payment from the CRRF would have that payment taken into account in determining an award from this fund. Once we calculated the legal aid fee income banding, we subtracted any payment received by a firm from CRRF. If it was found, after deducting any payment from CRRF, that a higher amount would be payable under this business support and recovery fund, then the difference was paid. If it was less, those who had benefited from the CRRF would not receive a payment from this fund but would also not be asked to refund any amounts.
Once the initial value of the grants, (based on the numbers of eligible applications, those who met the eligibility criteria, levels of best legal aid fee income and if any firms received a payment from the CRRF), was calculated. The residual funding within each band was divided in equal shares between every firm in that band whether or not it had a CRRF award. The process of netting off CRRF and redistribution of monies was carried out iteratively until all the monies were distributed. The residual funding was then added onto the initial grant to give a final grant award amount.