28 April 2020

Dear all,

LEGAL SUPPORT FOR LITIGANTS IN PERSON GRANT

Now more than ever, it is vitally important to ensure support is available to people taking their matters through the justice system, and to deliver that support as effectively as we can. That is why we are both delighted to write to you today, and let you know that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Access to Justice Foundation (ATJF) have partnered to start a new £3.1 million grant for services that support litigants in person.

The new Legal Support for Litigants in Person Grant will run for two years and has been established to meet the commitment made in the MoJ’s Legal Support Action Plan, to work to enhance the legal support available to litigants in person across England and Wales. The new grant is additional to the MoJ funding that the ATJF already manages and delivers through the Litigants in Person Support Strategy (LIPSS), which has been in place since 2015. The ATJF is taking on a similar role in overseeing the new grant.

The Legal Support for Litigants in Person Grant will be available for new, expanded or scaled-up services that, as far as possible, support the earliest possible interventions for litigants in person. In line with the initial goals of the Legal Support Action Plan, we want to work with fundees to look at the most effective ways of reducing the risk of people’s legal problems escalating. Evaluation will also be a key element of the new grant, so that the MoJ, ATJF and fundees themselves can build up a collective evidence base of the benefits they are delivering to litigants in person.

We both recognise that all of you working in the advice sector are currently facing huge challenges due to COVID-19, both in terms of increased numbers of people needing to access your support, and having to work very quickly to identify new ways of delivering it. Although the work that has gone into establishing the new grant pre-dates the current emergency, we will work to ensure it is as responsive to the impacts of the pandemic as possible, and that these impacts are taken into account in all aspects of its delivery. This could include extending the next phase of the grant to give the ATJF and potential fundees longer to work together on proposals, or indeed potentially adapting elements of the grant to focus on services specifically responding to COVID-19.

The formal start of the new grant means that this next phase is now underway. As this process moves forward, our focus will be on getting as much benefit as possible from this new funding, including how it can respond to current circumstances. We look forward to working to achieve these goals together, and with some of the fantastic advice sector organisations supporting people across the country.

If you would like more information about the grant, please contact grants@atjf.org.uk.

Yours Sincerely,

Alex Chalk MP and Lord Goldsmith PC QC

Alex Chalk MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

The Rt Hon. the Lord Goldsmith P, QC, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Access to Justice Foundation