Contracting for advice centres 'could close CABs'

Local authorities and the Legal Services Commission have failed to consider the long-term impact on the voluntary sector of contracting out community legal advice centres, according to the chief executive of Citizens Advice.

Harker: 'services could be lost'
Harker: 'services could be lost'

David Harker told Third Sector he was concerned that tendering instead of offering grants to existing organisations could close Citizens Advice Bureaux that didn't win contracts. Additional services offered by CABs, such as financial advice, would be lost, he added.

"Strong local organisations take decades to build up," he said. "If that is then swept away, you cannot instantly bring it back if the contract provider fails."

Hull CAB could lose £600,000 of council funding after it missed out on a contract (Third Sector, 16 April).

Crispin Passmore, director of the community legal service at the LSC, said its proposed new community legal advice centres were designed to meet the needs of clients and that it had worked with CABs and law centres to prepare them to bid for contracts.

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