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LEGAL ADVICE SERVICES TACKLE SOCIAL EXCLUSION

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The important role of early advice in tackling social exclusion was ...
The important role of early advice in tackling social exclusion was

highlighted today by constitutional affairs minister David Lammy as

he published the report, 'Legal and Advice Services - a pathway to

regeneration'.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs, the Law Centres

Federation, Community Legal Service and Two Garden Court (barristers

chambers) have worked together to produce the new report. The report

demonstrates how legal and advice services can become an even more

powerful force in reducing social exclusion.

Mr Lammy said:

'Legal and advice services can be a lifeline for people who find

themselves in difficulty. The importance cannot be understated. The

way out of complex and overlapping problems - housing, family, debt

or benefits- can be illuminated by timely access to clear advice.

'As both a DCA minister and an MP, I see at first hand the profound

difference that quality advice can make to people's lives. We are

keen to build on the significant work that the Community Legal

Service does.'

The report, Legal and Advice Services, A Pathway to Regeneration,

illustrates the work of the Community Legal Service (CLS) and the Law

Centres Federation in providing advice and help. Legal and advice

services can act as the building blocks for the regeneration of a

community, as well as providing services and advice for people.

The government plans to continue expanding the work of the CLS and

has spent nearly£21m on projects under the Partnership

Initiative Budget, which aims at delivering services in new ways.

More than 140 schemes have been funded through the PIB initiative,

including on-line advice and e-directories, community legal education

programmes and joint working between organisations to provide

outreach support to minority groups.

An inter-departmental working group, set up two years ago, has

produced a map identifying areas where there may be overlapping

services or gaps in the provision of advice. The group is now working

to fill the gaps and to provide customer focused, joined-up services.

In addition, the DCA will continue to work closely with the

Neighbourhood Renewal Unit.

The Community Legal Service has also collaborated with a whole web of

partner agencies from other government agencies, such as Job Centre

Plus, with local authorities, with the Legal Services Commission and

with local voluntary agencies, to provide a comprehensive service.

The Community Legal Service Partnerships (CLSPs) now cover all of

England and Wales and are equipped through partnership working to

make a real impact on social exclusion.

Earlier this week, the DCA announced that it had started work on a

Fundamental Legal Aid Review. This review will address how legal aid

can best meet the needs of society, to help people improve their

lives and avoid social exclusion.

Notes

1. David Lammy launched the publication, Legal and Advice Services, A

Pathway to Regeneration, at the House of Commons today. The paper was

written jointly by the Department for Constitutional Affairs and the

Law Centres Federation.

2. An independent review of the CLS has recently been published by

Matrix Research and Consultancy. It is available on the DCA website:

www.dca.gov.uk

3. The Law Centres Federation acts as the co-ordinating body and a

voice for individual law centres, encouraging the development of

publicly funded legal service for the most disadvantaged in society.

The Federation is based at Duchess House, 18/19 Warren Street, London

WC1T 5LR. Tel: 020-7287 8570.

4. Two Garden Court are barristers' chambers which supported the Law

Centres Federation in the publication of this report.

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