$96m for legal aid and community law centres

  • Simon Bridges
Justice Budget 2016

Budget 2016 will invest an additional $96 million of operating funding over this year and the next four years to make it easier for low-income New Zealanders to access advice from legal aid lawyers and community law centres, Associate Justice Minister Simon Bridges says.

Key parts of the package are:

  • $17.2 million to increase eligibility for civil and family legal aid.
  • $4.3 million for community law centres.
  • $54.5 million, and $20 million in 2015/16, for the provision of legal aid.

“Legal representation can be expensive, and legal aid supports people without the financial means to pay for a lawyer’s assistance,” Mr Bridges says.

“Civil and family legal aid helps people apply for protection orders, agree on parenting arrangements, settle employment disputes, and access many other types of court proceedings. Increasing eligibility will help 2,700 additional New Zealanders each year by 2018/19.”

Budget 2016 will also provide greater certainty for community law centres to continue to give free legal advice.

“Community law centres play an important role in ensuring that all New Zealanders have access to free legal services,” he says.

“Budget 2016 ensures community law centres will continue to receive around $11 million in annual support – a total top-up of around $4.3 million over the next four years. This will allow them to plan for the future with certainty.”

In addition to the funding in Budget 2016, $14.7 million over four years was announced earlier this year to allow the Legal Services Commissioner to revise criminal legal aid fee schedules, to help ensure efficiency and sustainability in the legal aid system.

In total the justice sector receives $837 million over the next four years, plus $56 million in 2015/16.