To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst of 26 June 2008, Official Report, column 473W, on legal advice and assistance, what assessment he has made of the effect of the establishment of new community legal advice centres on the viability of citizens advice bureaux in areas where they have not won contracts to run the new centres.
Community Legal Advice (CLA) services (centres and networks) offer integrated help on housing, debt, employment, welfare benefits, and community care because these problems, in particular, are often interlinked.
They also bring together advice services funded by local bodies, such as local authorities, with legal aid funded by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). Centres and networks aim to provide services that meet the needs of people in the local area and are commissioned through an open tender process.
The LSC currently funds, with the respective local authority, four Community Legal Advice centres in Gateshead, Leicester, Derby and Portsmouth. In addition, the Hull Community Legal Advice centre, which is jointly funded with Hull City Council, will open on
Hull Citizens Advice Bureau was unsuccessful in its bid for the Hull Community Legal Advice centre and the LSC are in discussions with it about its future. Though not part of the Leicester Community Legal Advice centre, the Leicester CABx did not lose any funding as a result of the centre opening earlier this year.
CABx play an important role in advising and supporting local communities.
In addition to those involved in Community Legal Advice centres, the LSC continues to fund around 250 CABx to deliver advice through legal aid.