Pilot project to improve financial health of charity law centres

South West London Law Centres given £315,000 to research improvements to infrastructure

Legal aid minister Willy Bach has unveiled a £315,000 pilot project to make charity law centres more financially sustainable.

South West London Law Centres has been given the funding to help it find ways of strengthening infrastructure at law centres and to identify new ways of working and sources of funding.

There have been fears that the introduction of unified regional contracts and fixed fees by the Legal Services Commission, which runs the legal aid scheme in England and Wales, has reduced the income of many charity law centres.

The Ministry of Justice awarded £235,000 of the funding, which Bach announced at a visit to the centre last week. The remaining £80,000 comes from private funders.

"This pilot will help to strengthen all law centres so that they can continue to help save people's homes, protect people at work and make sure people get the care they need," said Julie Bishop, director of the Law Centres Federation, which represents the 56 not-for-profit law centres in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Michael Ashe, chief executive of South West London Law Centres, said: "Today's award gives us an unprecedented opportunity to work with all stakeholders inside and outside government to ensure there continues to be protection for the rights of people who cannot afford to pay for legal help."

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