Advice for Life, the collapsed parent charity of East Anglia’s two law centres, was struggling to repay funds to the Legal Services Commission before it went bust, it has emerged. Advice for Life’s closure caused Cambridge Law Centre and Huntingdon Law Centre to close for good at the end of July.
An internal report on Advice for Life by a consultant in May found that 2008/09 was ‘exceptionally challenging’ for Advice for Life because the LSC claimed back a ‘significant amount of money’ in an ‘unplanned way,’ placing a ‘huge burden on the cashflow within the organisation’ and causing ‘strains’ within. An Advice for Life whistleblower leaked the report to Cambridge News earlier this month.
The LSC said that it had awarded Cambridge Law Centre an extension to repay some funds in early 2008, but the centre declined an extension in 2009, saying that it could ‘meet the reconciliation required’. The LSC said that it was ‘by no means the biggest funder of the law centres’. It said that it cannot comment specifically on the internal report, which it has not seen, or speculate on the reasons for the law centres’ closure.
An LSC spokesman said: ‘When a provider is unable to deliver all of the services they have received funding for, we do make reconciliations, but we always advise any provider having financial difficulties to talk with us so that we can explore ways to assist them.’