A charity that supports thousands of unrepresented parties every year still faces the prospect of having to close some of its doors despite government confirmation that details of a new process to secure funding will be revealed shortly.
Support Through Court is urgently trying to raise £400,000 after the government decided to change the way it distributes funds. It has so far raised £27,337.
The charity, which has been receiving £540,000 core funding from the government for nearly a decade, may be able to apply for funding under the new grant. However, it knows little about the timeframes or eligibility criteria for the new grant, leaving it in a tricky position with short-term cashflow issues this year.
In a written parliamentary response, justice minister Lord Bellamy (Christopher Bellamy QC) said details on the level of funding under the new grant and how it will be administered are ‘close to being finalised’.
Charities that received grant funding under the Litigants in Person Support Strategy and Legal Support for Litigants in Person were informed last November that a new grant was being developed that would require a competitive tender process. Their one-year grants ended on 31 March but they were given three months’ extra funding so they could plan ahead.
Bellamy revealed that the ministry has agreed a further extension that will see funding continue until the end of September.
Eileen Pereira, chief executive of Support Through Court, said it was promising to hear things progressing at the Ministry of Justice.
Transitional funding will enable the charity to support litigants in person until the end of September. ‘However, we’re still in a position where we don’t know the nature of the grant, if we fit the criteria, and what level of funding we can apply for if we do,’ Pereira said.
‘We’re continuing to explore closing our services, as we need to ensure we’re being responsible with the charity’s finances. We do hope that, through our emergency appeal, we’ll be able to make up the shortfall and continue to be there for people facing court alone.’