The below article is an excerpt from the Law Gazette Magazine. You can view the original here.
LiP support service under threat after government cuts funding.
A court support service that helps thousands of litigants in person every year may have to close some of its regional branches after the government ended an essential source of funding.
Support Through Court, previously known as the Personal Support Unit, has today launched an urgent appeal to make up a £400,000 shortfall resulting from the Ministry of Justice’s decision to change the way it distributes funds.
Last November charities were informed that the ministry was developing plans for a new grant that would require a competitive tender process. One-year grants would end on 31 March. However, they were extended until June to allow charities to plan ahead.
Support Through Court, which has been receiving £540,000 core funding from the ministry a year for nearly a decade, may be able to apply for further funding later this year. However, it knows little about the timeframes or eligibility criteria for the new grant, leaving it in a tricky position with short-term cashflow issues this year.
With the transitional funding taking it to end of June, the charity will try to make up the £400,000 shortfall with the money it raises through its urgent appeal – or face closing some of its services.
Eileen Pereira, chief executive for Support Through Court, says: ‘It remains crucial that we’re based in court buildings across the country. Every day, we see hundreds of people who can’t access legal aid who walk into court buildings in need of procedural support and guidance. Many don’t have access to tech. We provide them with a space to be heard as well as helping with court bundles and by logging on to hearings with them.
‘Without the funding we’ve received for eight years, we’re facing the real possibility of closing the doors on the support we provide to these people. To end up closing any of our services would have a devastating impact, not just on the clients we support but on the whole court system.’
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: ‘We want access to early legal support to be available to those who need it most and charities will soon be able to bid for new grant funding so even more people can benefit from their services.’