A law centre set up less than two years ago is appealing for funds to remain at its current premises in an appeal that highlights the fragility of the advice sector.
Greater Manchester Law Centre opened in a purpose-built building in Princess Road, Moss Side, in summer 2016. The centre relies entirely on donations and contributions for funding. If these funds do not continue, barrister John Nicholson, chair of the centre's management committee, told the Gazette that 'we won't be able to pay for the space from which to give our advice services'.
The centre, this month, emailed a circular with the headline 'Save our home! 159 supporters needed for 159 Princess Road.' The centre says that, for instance, 20 people donating £10 per month will maintain six interview rooms which enable clients to speak privately.
Nicholson told the Gazette that £5,000 a month is spent on the office, insurance, IT, phone and electrics. Most of the employee costs are funded by charitable trusts. However, the centre also relies on volunteers. The centre's own donations and contributions fund part-time advisers.
Last year the centre wrote to Labour MP Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester mayor, suggesting that he help fund pro bono and charitable legal services by introducing a levy on Manchester's corporate legal sector.
Between 2005 and 2015, the number of not-for-profit legal advice centres in the country fell from 2,226 to 1,462. Greater Manchester went from having nine law centres across 10 boroughs to two.
In the past year, Greater Manchester Law Centre helped clients to reclaim over £500,000 in benefits. Nicholson added that law students have gained pupillages as a result of their law centre experience, which included representing clients at employment and support allowance, and personal independence payment appeals.
Elsewhere, Hammersmith Law Centre announced today that it has moved to a new location.
The Law Centre has moved!— HammersmithLawCentre (@HF_LawCentre) January 12, 2018
Come and find us at Hammersmith Library on Shepherds Bush Road (first floor). We have a lovely new space to continue our much needed work and expand our service.
Thank you @StephenCowan @SueFennimore @LBHF for making this happen! pic.twitter.com/kRuh0ATIBd
The government is due to publish its review into the impact of its legal aid reforms this summer. The Bach Commission, chaired by Labour peer Lord Bach (Willy Bach), has urged the government to restore legal aid for early legal help to pre-LASPO levels for all social welfare law, which includes debt, employment, welfare benefits, immigration and housing.