Navca promotes alternative to community legal advice centres

Councils encouraged to preserve local voluntary sector services

Local umbrella body Navca has sent a new publication to all local authority chief executives highlighting an alternative to the Legal Services Commission's large-scale procurement practice for legal advice provision.

The introduction of community legal advice centres, where funding for the provision of legal advice in some local authority areas is pooled and offered as one large contract, has caused problems for voluntary sector organisations that failed to win the contract.

Hull Citizens Advice Bureau had to dramatically reduce its work after it lost out to private sector company A4e.
The publication presents a case study of how Cornwall County Council worked in partnership with the voluntary and private sectors to preserve local advice provision.

In April 2008, Cornwall was the first local authority to withdraw from the community legal advice centres tender process. The council instead funded a Community Advice Network, involving private solicitors and voluntary sector providers to develop a coordinated advice service.

Kevin Curley, chief executive of Navca, said: "This case study shows there is another way. A progressive, enlightened local authority working with local infrastructure organisations can develop local advice services based on locally owned provision."

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