21 January 2021
The last ten months has been hugely testing for everyone working in the advice sector, which has further underlined the importance of the support it offers to vulnerable people at very stressful times in their lives. We continue to be grateful for the unwavering dedication of those within the sector, and the way everyone has adapted so quickly to new methods of delivery and maintained access to vital help and guidance.
Last summer, we wrote out to advice sector stakeholders about our new £3.1m Legal Support for Litigants in Person (LSLIP) grant, a joint initiative between the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Access to Justice Foundation (ATJF). This grant aims to support not-for-profit organisations providing local, regional and national level services to support litigants in person. We are delighted to now announce that we have fully allocated the two-year grant funding, and this statement shares information about the fantastic and innovative projects we have been able to support.
In our previous statement, we announced the MoJ and the ATJF had successfully identified three national level projects. These projects commenced delivery in July last year, and more information about them can be found here. At the beginning of October, we finalised our local and regional level projects, eight of which are now underway and have collectively received funding of close to £2m over two years. This followed a thorough scoping exercise based on levels of existing provision across England and Wales.
Regional level projects
The MoJ and the ATJF have worked together closely to identify organisations and to ensure LSLIP grant funding is targeted at areas where it can have the most impact. We are pleased to say that through our regional funding stream, we have funded three partnerships that will operate in North and Mid-Wales, the North East of England, and Devon and Cornwall. Between them, the three new partnerships cover 30 different organisations working with litigants in person.
The partnerships will work to increase access to support, both as we deal with the effects of the pandemic and as life starts to get back to normal, and to build-up coordinated networks across a region that can share resources and expertise. For example, our North East of England LSLIP partnership, led by the North East Law Centre, will deliver two virtual support hubs that will provide advice and support in the areas of Welfare Benefit, Employment Law and Family Law.
Local level projects
At the local level, we have identified five partnerships, which will operate in Suffolk and Norfolk, Mid and North Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and North Lancashire, the East and West Midlands, and Dorset and South Somerset. Between them, the five new partnerships bring together a further 19 different organisations working with litigants in person.
This local funding stream will allow organisations to scale up their provision to increase the reach and impact of crucial frontline services, and target issues that they know to be particularly prevalent in their local area. For example, through the Suffolk and Norfolk LSLIP partnership, Suffolk Law Centre and Norfolk Community Law Service will develop a mobile triage and specialist advice service across the two counties. Known as the Virtual Justice Bus, it will bring expert, free legal support out to people who cannot normally access it, making use of community networks and helping people in trusted places that they go to.
Supporting and evaluating funded projects
The MoJ and the ATJF have been delighted to work closely with the funded organisations to ensure that we are robustly evaluating the impact of the new services and understanding how they combine to help people. Grant recipients will be supported through ongoing workshops, and dedicated resource to provide evaluation and analytical expertise. This expertise will ensure that the funded projects provide data which can build an effective evidence base that can inform future funding and policy decisions.
We will share more information with advice sector stakeholders as the funded projects progress. If you would like more information about the grant, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We remain excited and motivated in equal measure by the opportunities that this grant programme provides to work so closely with the advice sector and look forward to seeing what we will achieve together.
Alex Chalk MP and Lord Goldsmith PC QC
Alex Chalk MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice
The Rt Hon. the Lord Goldsmith PC, QC, President, The Access to Justice Foundation