The government continues to recognise the importance of the legal support services and the essential role that they play in helping people resolve their legal problems.
Following our 2019 review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 reforms, the Ministry of Justice published the Legal Support Action Plan, which set out our vision for resolving legal problems earlier by ensuring that people can access the right legal support services at the right time, and in the right way for them. Whilst we do not intend to move to a fully grants based system for funding legal services, there are elements of the Legal Support Action Plan that drew on the recommendations of the Low Commission report.
COVID-19 interrupted significant elements of some of this work, as we reprioritised our focus on considering the impact of the pandemic on the legal support sector who support individuals in need of help.
As a result of this, the Ministry of Justice has secured emergency funding for the not-for-profit legal advice sector, including £5.4 million for providers of special legal advice. £3 million of this funding will go to Law Centres and this will be distributed through the Law Centres Network. The remainder of the funding, £2.4 million, will be contributed to the Community Justice Fund, administrated by the Access to Justice Foundation (ATJF), in order to provide funding for other non-specialist advice and support providers.
This funding will be additional to the £370 million of funding administrated by the National Lottery Communities Fund which qualifying third sector organisations, including those in the advice sector, will be able to bid for directly.
We have also continued existing work with the specialist advice sector and launched a new £3.1 million grant in partnership with the ATJF to enhance legal support for litigants in person over the next two years. This new grant is in addition to nearly £8m invested by the Ministry of Justice in support of litigants in person in the civil and family courts since 2015 through the Litigants in Person Support Strategy.