A legal charity's support for solicitors suffering financial hardship has risen by a quarter, with many seeking help continuing to suffer poor mental health linked to their jobs.
SBA The Solicitors' Charity (formerly known as the Solicitors Benevolent Association) awarded £1.4m last year, up by 24% on 2016. New applicants, who received £419,997 in loans and interest-free grants, made up 29% of last year's 313 beneficiaries.
The charity supports solicitors and their dependants who are struggling financially because they are ill, involved in an accident, made redundant or suffering adversity.
According to the charity's report on 2017, seven in 10 applicants who approached SBA said they had health issues, similar to 2016's figure. One in four had poor mental health; others were bipolar or schizophrenic. A few were dealing with domestic violence or were homeless. Nearly a quarter had multiple health issues. Many of these issues, the charity says, were age-related, such as diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis and dementia.
Nearly seven in 10 beneficiaries were under 60. Three in 10 were between 51 and 60.
Half of those sampled for the report were sole practitioners or worked in small firms. One in five were in the first five years of their career. The charity was unable to identify a common theme among the junior applicants. 'These junior lawyers were as likely to be affected by poor physical and mental health as their colleagues with more years' experience in practice,' the report says.
The youngest beneficiary was 24; the eldest 101. Current or former solicitors accounted for 85% of those who needed help. Dependants were usually widows or former spouses. The charity has been helping a south-west solicitor's elderly dependant, whose only income is £8,474 from statutory benefits, for 27 years.
SBA awarded £1.4m last year, up by 24% on 2016. New applicants, who received £419,997 in loans and interest-free grants, made up 29% of last year's 313 beneficiaries.
Christl Hughes, chair of the SBA's board of trustees, said: 'The charity may be best known for supporting older solicitors and their dependants but the majority of our beneficiaries continue to be of working age.'