People with mental health problems are considerably reliant on free legal advice, according to research published by the Legal Services Board.

The oversight regulator's reports on the experiences of people with dementia and mental health problems, and their carers, identify what can be done to improve access, service experience and outcomes.

Respondents to the board's research on dementia typically felt their legal needs were being met. Latest academic research suggests more than 1.2 million people in England and Wales will be living with dementia by 2040.

However, the board's report says many felt more could be done to communicate legal issues in plain English, and provide plain English written information before and after face-to-face consultations. Some complained about affordability, particularly solicitors' costs when completing lasting power of attorney applications.

A lack of understanding of how legal processes work led to some older respondents being disappointed with the advice they received and with the time-scales for receiving a resolution.

Research on people with mental health problems shows 'considerable' concern about the cost of accessing legal advice, and considerable reliance on free services from advice-based third sector organisations and 'free first half hour' services offered by solicitors.

Neil Buckley, LSB chief executive, said 'Sometimes small actions can make a big difference to consumers, particularly those who are vulnerable. When providers take simple practical steps this can make a big difference to the consumer experience.

'Consumers can help too, for example by telling their lawyer if there are things they could do that would help make things easier for them.'

Both reports conclude that those with dementia or mental health problems want a 'jargon-free' service and costs transparency.