Shelter to close nine housing advice centres because of cuts to legal aid

The housing charity says the £6m it receives each year for its face-to-face services could be halved


Shelter has confirmed that it will close nine housing advice centres with the loss of up to 90 jobs.

The housing and homelessness charity, which had an income of £52.9m in 2011/12, receives legal aid for its face-to-face advice services, worth about £6m a year.

The charity said that government cuts from the legal aid budget mean that up to 50 per cent of this money could be lost.

The government has said it will not fund legal advice and representation for routine housing claims from 1 April.

Shelter, which employs 1,250 people including its trading arm, said it would be forced to close its advice centres in Rotherham, Ashford, Dover, Milton Keynes, Cheshire, Gloucester, Somerset, Hertfordshire and Cumbria.

Another advice centre in Chatham, which had been earmarked for closure, will remain open. 

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, said the charity had campaigned hard against the cuts to the legal aid budget and that the decision to close the centres, which is about a third of its total, had been a difficult one.

"The cuts have meant some difficult decisions about how we best use the resources we have to help those in housing need," he said.

"While service closures are absolutely a last resort, we simply cannot fill the gap created by the scale of these cuts with other sources."

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