Controversial measures such as charging for services are helping law centres survive funding cuts, the sector’s annual report said last week.
In the 2014/15 review, Picking up the Pieces, Law Centres Network chair Cheryl Weston says centres were ‘certainly knocked but have bounced back in surprising ways’.
Some centres have set up ties with non-legal services such as local clinical commissioning groups or non-legal charities such as food banks and domestic violence support projects, Weston said.
Some had ‘taken the controversial move’ of charging a fee to those who can afford to pay.
One such model, Weston said, was Rochdale Legal Enterprise, a not-for-profit solicitors’ practice working with Rochdale Law Centre.
The enterprise provides low-cost legal services to individuals on low and middle incomes across Greater Manchester.
After staff and running costs, any income generated is given to Rochdale Law Centre towards its free work.
Green Roots, a social enterprise owned by Islington Law Centre (pictured), offers legal services ‘at as low a price as possible to meet the legal needs of people who would otherwise go without a lawyer’, Weston said.
At the other end of the scale, she added, centres were involved in providing free legal advice and assistance in partnership with other groups and agencies.