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Legal Service: Northampton

Volume 455: debated on Wednesday 10 January 2007

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs how many lawyers specialising in (a) housing, (b) education, (c) social services for adults and (d) mental health are there as part of the community legal service in Northampton. (113333)

The Legal Services Commission (LSC) records the number of solicitor firms and not-for-profit organisations who hold contracts to carry out legal aid work rather than numbers of specialist lawyers. The LSC records social services under the category ‘community care’.

In Northampton, two solicitors firms hold mental health contracts. In addition, there are six solicitor firms in Northampton whose contracts allow them to carry out tolerance work (work not confined to a specific category of law) in housing, education and community care.

One not-for-profit organisation, the Northampton and County Welfare Rights Advice Service, holds a contract to carry out housing work. The contract the LSC has with the Welfare Rights Advice Service, which includes provision of benefits advice through outreach in GPs’ surgeries, is the largest LSC contract for social welfare law in the East Midlands. This service provides advice around the county including Wellingborough and East Northamptonshire.

Since April 2006 the LSC has also funded a scheme at Northampton county court which ensures that emergency advice and representation is available to any resident who has been summonsed to court to face eviction from their home. Northampton and County Welfare Rights Advice Service continues to provide this debt and housing advice service.