The Access to Justice Foundation has published a new report looking at ‘Specialist Legal Advice Providers,’ which begins to map legal advice funding and the relationship between income streams. 

Using data and analysis from 360Giving, the report provides a profile of the sector providers and where available, information on what was being funded, by whom, and underlying trends in funding. We have commissioned the ‘Specialist Legal Advice Providers’ report to improve our understanding in the hope that this might facilitate giving to address gaps.

Focusing on England and Wales, the report provides some useful insights into the operating context for the funder collaborations that support specialist legal advice providers, and is a must-read for any funder working in this space. 

‘Specialist Legal Advice Providers’ covers: 

  • The size and scope of the sector, and the proportion of charities that are Citizens Advice Bureaux, Law Centres, major charities and other charities. 
  • The trends in funding.
  • The location of legal advice providers, and a regional breakdown of local Citizens Advice Bureaux and Law Centres and their spending. 
  • Income sources for Specialist Legal Advice Providers, bringing together government contracts and grants, funding from grantmaking foundations, fees and donations, investment income and income from the private sector. 
  • The proportion of Specialist Legal Advice providers receiving Legal Aid funding between 2016-21.
  • Information about grant funding, including the biggest funders, ‘who funds with who’ and funding themes. 

While the data available doesn’t provide all the answers – with the closure of organisations in recent years particularly affecting available data – the analysis in the report does show that there has been a significant decline in legal aid funding for the specialist legal advice providers included in the research (down from over £20m in 2010-11 to below £15m in 2019-20), income trends have stalled for major charities, other charities and law centres, and that the majority of grant funding for Specialist Legal Advice Providers from funders publishing grants data using the 360Giving Data Standard comes from just six funders (bearing in mind that some key funders do not yet share their data). 

We hope that this report galvanises funders from across sectors to strategically think about how they support the specialist legal advice sector, and to encourage others to give in this area. 

Read the report in full Specialist Legal Advice Funding Report