Charity & CSR

 “We find a lot of people just put up and shut up as they can’t find free services of the standard they require…even though their rights depend on it.”

This conclusion of the research carried out jointly by Rachel Stalker from Liverpool JMU and James Organ from the University Of Liverpool was a stark reminder that things are getting worse for those in need of advice. 

At the first meeting of the Access To Justice Forum in April 2015 the two universities in attendance offered to carry out a mapping exercise across the region to see what Third Sector agencies are in existence and find out what they were experiencing in the light of the cuts. In their report, which can be found at this link, there was a stark reminder that the effect of the Legal Aid cuts, austerity measures and reform of the welfare system mean that those giving advice in the Third Sector are increasingly stretched. 

The agencies are finding that demand for their services are significantly increasing due to the welfare reforms while the funding has significantly decreased. It is increasingly difficult to provide a quality service; to ensure there are sufficient advisers and to make sure that those signposted to other agencies actually get the advice they need. 

The second meeting of the Access To Justice Forum took place on Thursday 2nd July 2015 at the Cotton Exchange and was attended by a wide range of those concerned with, and involved in, trying to provide advice for those seeking it across Merseyside. 

The Councillors in attendance (Cllr Lappin from Sefton and Cllr Corbett from Liverpool) presented a sombre picture of what is likely to be coming down the tracks with more welfare cuts and increasing austerity measures to be imposed by government. Since the last meeting we had been through a General Election and the feeling, in advance of the Chancellor’s Budget on 8th July, was that things were not going to get better.

We were able to report that the Liverpool Law Society is seeking to get involved in filling the gap. An initial Pro Bono Survey had been sent round to firms in June, to gather information about what is already being done by members. Although there had been a limited response we were now seeking to build on this start. We are trying to work out ways in which there could be opportunities for firms to provide real assistance to the Third Sector and to ensure that advice is given and people do not give up. 

 

Chris Topping
Chair
Access to Justice Sub-Committee
Liverpool Law Society