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Low Commission launches final report

Date: 20 Jan 2014

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Toynbee Hall was an active participant in the Commission’s evidence-gathering process, and advocated for some specific measures to be put in place for the future of advice services and legal support.

On Monday 13th January, the Low Commission launched its report on the future of advice and legal support. These services are currently funded by both central and local government as well as by charitable trusts and the private sector. However, changes to the scope of legal aid as a result of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 combined with other reductions in central and local government funding due to the period of austerity are threatening the provision of these services as never before.

At the same time, these cuts come at a time when there is a growing demand for advice services due to a combination of welfare reform, austerity measures and the financial downturn

The Low Commission, chaired by Lord Colin Low, aims to develop a strategy for the sector’s future. The Commission’s report was produced after a year-long process of data-gathering and analysis, and it suggests ways of reducing needs for advice and legal support, whilst also investigating new approaches to deliver and fund these services.

Amongst other suggestions, the final report calls for the creation of a 10 year, £50m per annum  National Advice and Legal Support Fund. Chris Triggs, Director of Business Development, comments :

“In particular, we were pleased to see the report call for greater collaboration among advice agencies [and merging in some cases to ensure sustainability].”

Toynbee Hall also suggested that many of the excess costs of legal advice and support should be reoriented towards the provision of advice through digital means. Where necessary, assistance in overcoming digital exclusion should be provided. Indeed, one of Toynbee Hall’s key objectives is to become a Digital pioneer and to make our services more accessible through technology. 

“The risk is that without a new approach throughout the entire supply chain of advice – from policymakers to commissioners/funders to frontline delivery – any new fund will just focus on propping up the existing system rather than initiating a more strategic step-change to tackle the advice deficit which is ultimately what the Low Commssion and others are really calling for.”

Read the full blog

Lord Low will be leading some follow-up work to ensure that his report’s recommendations are implemented. Please continue to check their site for updates and the full report.

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