Law Centres have been using emergency public funding to strengthen their legal advice services to the public as well as to better connect them to other local support services.
During the early stages of the pandemic, Law Centres were among key charities that were supported by the government to preserve their vital services. Across the network, Law Centres benefited from £3 million to support the adaptation of their specialist legal services to remote delivery and new demand trends driven by Covid-19.
Beyond giving out legal advice, Law Centres are also keen to assist people they cannot help directly to manage their problems on their own. They do so by working with other local organisations to signpost people to advice and reliable information that they can act on.
This month, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has provided an update on these advice partnerships across England and Wales, which it has supported with £3.1 million as part of its Legal Support for Litigants in Person programme. The report shows that:
- Six Law Centres have been amongst the beneficiaries of the grants made available by the MoJ: Central England Law Centre, Derbyshire Law Centre, Greater Manchester Law Centre, Kirklees Citizens Advice & Law Centre, North East Law Centre and Suffolk Law Centre
- Half of the eight local or regional advice partnerships are led by Law Centres
- The advice partnerships focus on legal problems in employment, housing, family matters and discrimination – all of which have seen a surge in need during the pandemic.
Justice minister Lord Wolfson QC said:
'I am pleased at the considerable progress being made across the Legal Support for Litigants in Person grant and look forward to seeing all the regional and local partnerships continue to provide vital guidance and advice to vulnerable people in their areas. This collective approach is something to be celebrated and I am delighted at the significant strides being made.'
Law Centres are committed to serving their local communities and developing their resources to identify new areas of priority need. For example, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, many Law Centres have prioritised widening their employment rights service offer to help local communities during a confusing and difficult time for employees and self-employed people.
The legal advice that Law Centres provide works better by building relationships with other local services and advice networks. This helps them make sure that the most vulnerable or those most in need of their specialist assistance can get it.
At a time of scant resources for local legal support, it is all the more important that we work together to help communities and the nation recover.
Read more about the grants on the government website here.