Lottery fund gives legal advice centres £18m

The Big Lottery Fund is awarding England's struggling legal advice centres £18m.

The funding is from the fund's Advice Plus programme, which helps people in need get legal advice.

The money will be distributed through 39 grants of up to £500,000 and will benefit 400 centres across the country, many of them local Citizens Advice bureaux.

Priority for the awards was given to applications from collaborative projects offering a broader range of legal services to disadvantaged communities.

The Legal Services Commission is issuing fewer, larger contracts, which threatens the survival of many smaller advice charities. Phil Jew, communications and campaigns manager at Advice UK, said this trend was forcing charities into competition with each other.

"It's good there's money going into the sector, but let's not see it wasted by pitting agencies against each other instead of encouraging collaboration," he said.

Liverpool Advice Alliance, a coalition of 16 advice agencies, will receive nearly £500,000 through the programme.

Rachel Howley, manager of the Liverpool Specialist Advice Services, which coordinates the project, said: "It will enable us to establish and build partnership working between the main independent advice agencies in Liverpool."

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