We recognise the valuable work that law centres do in local communities throughout the country and support them in that work through both grant funding and legal aid contracts.
Law centres such as South West London Law Centres, which has an office in my constituency, provide a significant cost saving to the public finances by helping to resolve legal issues in the fields of debt, employment, immigration and housing before they spiral out of control. Will the Minister commit to securing Treasury funding to provide a central grant to law centres to ensure their survival?
A few weeks ago I visited my local law centre in Blackpool, the Fylde Coast Advice and Legal Centre, and saw the excellent work that it does. The centre that the hon. Lady mentioned is on my “to visit” list, so staff there will be seeing me imminently. She makes the important point that we need to bring early legal advice as close as possible to the individual’s front door, and not wait for matters to reach the court door. We are committed in our legal support action plan to looking into how law centres can best be utilised to deliver on that agenda, so I am keen to hear what staff have to say to me when I get to meet them.