Initial findings from applications to the ILTA Programme

Applications for grants under Round 1 of the Improving Lives Through Advice programme closed on 17 November 2023. We analysed the information applicants shared with us at both the Expression of Interest and the full application stages, both in order to inform our approach to the second round of funding but also, importantly, to improve our understanding of the current advice landscape.

One of our main takeaways from the first ILTA application round was that funding requests still far outstrip what is available, with 304 expressions of interest received for a total ask of £113,486,847.

We anticipated receiving a high number of applications, but this exceeded our expectations and is far beyond what is available in the overall funding pot. This is why we continue to make the case for the importance of access to free legal advice.

From our expression of interest (EOI) and application round, the majority of the EOIs we received were from London, as we expected. It is also worth noting that the regions where we received fewer EOIs seem consistent with our previous findings from grant programmes (see map).

The advice deserts in those regions continue to be an area of concern for us, as there is a very real possibility that communities in those regions may not be able to access legal advice, particularly those communities or groups we know face barriers to accessing services.

As we aim to be an organisation that helps bring advice to communities most in need across the UK, we will continue to work with our networks across the country to ensure we’re reaching areas where we received fewer applications for Round 2, to make sure we reach organisations working in across these areas and the people, places, and communities in need they support.

We have also stated in our guidance that we will be prioritising particular regions in Round 2, as we want to encourage EOIs and applications from those areas and fund a broad range of organisations serving communities across England.

We strive to be informed by the communities we aim to serve, which is why we let front-line organisations define which communities they identify as marginalised through their work.

With this ground-up approach and our support for long-term core funding, we are hoping to build long-term partnerships with the organisations we support, adhering to best practices across the sector, and tailoring our approach to support communities to receive the right support at the right time.

The graph below details the communities being supported by organisations that applied for the last round.

Moving forward with this knowledge, we see a very real need to fund legal advice at large, but also to focus on communities and regions that are less represented overall in this funding round.

We have partly started addressing this by focusing our communication for ILTA Round 2 on East, North East and West Midlands regions as well as organisations focused on older people, LGBTQIA+ people, survivors and/or those fleeing Domestic Abuse, and people affected by long-term illness or Mental Health needs.

To further this approach, we have opened this round to organisations that may not deliver advice services but are connecting to communities most in need, as they are often the community partners (sometimes called trusted intermediaries) who are supporting people to understand their legal issues and get the help they need at the right time.

The Improving Lives Through Advice (ILTA) programme is supported by £30 million from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest community funder in the UK. Thanks to National Lottery players, the funding will aim to improve access to social welfare legal advice for 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.