We are delighted to announce the launch of the Improving Lives Through Advice programme, made possible by a £30 million grant from The National Lottery Community Fund, thanks to National Lottery players. Working in partnership with the largest community funder in the UK, the Improving Lives Through Advice programme will ensure continued access to specialist social welfare legal advice to some of the most marginalised communities in England. This funding programme aims to transform lives, address systemic issues, and empower individuals, families, and communities in need by funding organisations working at the frontline.

These are stressful times for individuals and neighbourhoods across the country who have borne the brunt of deep and long lasting poverty and discrimination. The intersecting nature of social pressures that undermine poor communities are set to intensify further with a cost of living crisis worse than we have seen in a generation or more.

People most affected by job loss, chronic ill health, domestic abuse, disability, debt and poor or no housing are those who turn in their thousands to specialist advice centres who can act to enforce rights and prevent problems spiralling out of control, transforming the lives of children experiencing poverty, families trying to stay in their homes, women fleeing abuse, individuals with disabilities accessing support, and people challenging discrimination.

The Improving Lives Through Advice programme, an initiative of the Community Justice Fund, will work with communities to understand and address the deep-rooted/systemic challenges many are facing in society. By investing in advice services, this programme seeks to empower these communities and provide them with the necessary tools to overcome challenges.

Over the next five years, the Improving Lives Through Advice programme will operate across England, offering core, flexible funding to approximately 75 expert organisations. These frontline specialist legal advice providers will receive grants in the range of £50,000 – £100,000 per annum for five years.

In addition to supporting specialist legal advice providers, the programme will also fund organisations embedded within communities, recognising the role they often play in providing inclusive, trusted spaces supporting individuals, families, and communities to access advice services when they need it most.

Funding will be used to support advice organisations and community-based groups to establish and maintain equitable partnerships which improve access to advice for communities most in need.

“We recognise the importance of listening to and working with communities to understand the challenges and barriers people face when trying to access justice which is why we’re taking this unique approach to supporting the delivery of advice services.” Said our Chief Executive Clare. “By funding both advice services and community organisations we will be able to use the insights of organisations working directly with people, places and communities who experience the greatest need to improve access to advice that has the potential to transform the lives of people experiencing poverty, disadvantage, and discrimination.”

Grants will provide long term core funding, an essential component that will allow organisations to work in the ways that best meets the needs of the communities they are imbedded in, and a Funder Plus programme will be implemented to support specialist advice grantees to meet the increased demand and complexity of legal needs and work towards long-term sustainability.

“Through our Funder Plus programme, we will equip specialist advice grantees with the necessary tools and training to navigate the challenges posed by the cost of living crisis,”

Clare added.

“We’re committed to sharing learning across the justice community to promote best practice and highlight scalable solutions for other organisations to implement.”

While the Improving Lives Through Advice programme represents a significant step forward in closing the funding gap faced by frontline advice providers, continued investment is crucial to meet the ongoing increase in demand. Organisations have experienced up to a 48% surge in demand, meaning over 40,000 people who are most impacted by the cost of living crisis will potentially go without the advice and assistance they need.

Dedicated crisis funding for frontline advice during the pandemic has not been sustained to address the challenges posed by the cost of living crisis. The Community Justice Fund Funding Gap Report, launched in March, highlighted the need for an additional £15-£20 million per annum to meet this immediate and growing new demand to ensure services are able to address the impact of the cost of living crisis on communities as they recover, rebuild, and grow following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Applications for grants will open on Monday 7 August and more information will be available on the Community Justice Fund website.

A Q&A event on the grant programme and the application process will be held via Zoom at 12pm on Monday, 14th August 2023. Please register your attendance here. A recording of the event will be made available on our website for those unable to attend.