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Law Centres

Volume 474: debated on Thursday 3 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many community law centres there are; and how many closed in each of the last 10 years. (196791)

In 2000-01, the Legal Services Commission (LSC) contracted with 53 law centres and currently contracts with a total of 60 law centres. Contracted spend on law centres has increased from £6.7 million in 2000-01 to £11.6 million in 2006-07.

The LSC does not have figures for law centres other than those it contracts with.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many community law centres have given notice to his Department and the Legal Services Commission of an inability to continue (a) to operate and (b) to operate at current levels of service provision as a consequence of restricted funding; what response he has made to such notifications; and what steps he is taking to secure continued service provision to individual users of those community law centres which have given notice of an intention to close. (196790)

There is no expectation that any law centre will close because of Legal Services Commission (LSC) changes to the fee schemes. Out of the 60 law centres to which the LSC provides funding, four have indicated that they may cease to operate. These four providers have been affected by the withdrawal of non-LSC funding. Funding to law centres from the LSC has increased significantly over the last seven years from £6.7 million in 2000-01 to £11.6 million in 2006-07. It is not the only source of funding to Law Centres and the continuity of their operations depends on securing a range of flinders as well as on the general management of their business.

The LSC has introduced transitional provisions to minimise any short term impact from the new fee arrangements while law centres and other not for profit providers adapt to and take the opportunities provided by these arrangements. It is also working with local authorities and other funders to develop arrangements for community legal advice that will provide greater stability in total funding.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how much was spent through the Legal Services Commission on community law centres in each of the last 10 years. (196792)

The Legal Services Commission (LSC) came into being April 2000 and figures are available from this period onwards. The Legal Aid Board provided funding to Law Centres prior to the creation of the LSC, however, data on this cannot be obtained except at disproportionate cost.

The LSC’s total spend (help and representation) on Law Centres from 2000-01 to 2007-08 is detailed in the following table. The table also shows the LSC’s legal help spend on not for profit organisations overall in the same period.

£ million

Financial year

LSC funding to law centres

Total LSC NfP funding for sector (legal help only)

2000-01

6.7

24.4

2001-02

8.4

39.8

2002-03

9.4

47.7

2003-04

10.6

51.1

2004-05

11.0

72.4

2005-06

12.0

76.7

2006-07

11.6

79.7

2007-08

111.5

187.2

1 Figure to date—final figure calculated after the year end and not currently available.