The Ministry of Justice has announced an extra £2m to help legal advice agencies support people who have fallen on hard times during the pandemic.
The money will be invested in the Community Justice Fund, which has been supporting dozens of not-for-profit organisations which provide legal help to those who have lost their job, been caught up in rent arrears or build up debt.
The extra cash follows a £5.4m emergency support package last year to help law centres and other advice organisations survive the pandemic. The ministry said the funding will help specialist organisations further invest in technology to allow remote access to services, hire more staff and ensure services remain available during the pandemic. The cash would also ensure more people can access support to resolve their issues away from the courtroom, the department added.
Justice minister Lord Wolfson QC said: ‘We have made supporting vulnerable people a priority throughout the pandemic and I’m delighted this extra funding will ensure more of them get the expert help they need. Through close partnership with the legal advice sector such as this, this government is ensuring no one is left to face their problems alone.’
Six grant-giving foundations teamed up last year to create the Community Justice Fund - the Access to Justice Foundation, Therium Access, Legal Education Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, AB Charitable Trust and Indigo Trust.
Clare Carter, interim chief executive at the Access to Justice Foundation, said: ‘Specialist not-for-profit legal advice agencies have been a lifeline to people in need of expert legal advice during the pandemic. The sector has worked tirelessly to support the increasing number of people in need of help, whilst facing severe financial, resource and service-delivery challenges.
‘Through our work with the Community Justice Fund, we know that these services are still operating under immense pressure as the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt and more people seek affordable, good-quality legal advice.
‘We would like to thank the Ministry of Justice for this significant contribution to the Community Justice Fund, which will enable us to provide further funding and support to the sector at this time of great need.’