A telephone helpline which offers legal advice to families experiencing domestic abuse, child protection proceedings and separation, will now use its service to signpost people to organisations offering support on the ground.

Civil Legal Advice (CLA), a helpline which advises on a range of family issues, said its operators will now carry out an initial ‘means and merits’ assessment for families. If the family or person is eligible for support they will be referred to their three nearest providers.

If a person or family doesn’t meet the threshold to get the help they need, the CLA said it would then offer information about other organisations which may be able to help.

A press release published by the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) said the new system would not affect access to family law advice, and people who qualified for legal aid could continue to get face to face and telephone-based help from family lawyers with legal aid contracts.

In the press release, the LAA said it was making the change because more than 90% of family cases billed under CLA only ever reached the determination stage.

The changes do not affect enquiries related to education, discrimination, debt, and housing work.

You can call the CLA on 0345 345 4 345, Monday to Friday from 9am to 8pm, and Saturday from 9am to 12:30pm.

You can also text ‘legalaid’ and your name to 80010 to ask the CLA to call you back. This costs the same as a normal text message.

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