Liverpool Advice Strategy: No wrong Door. Advice for All
As part of LATAN’s campaign to improve capacity and access to free legal advice for people in Liverpool, we are working with the Council to develop a Liverpool Advice Strategy. Below are the detailed recommendations proposed as part of this campaign.
The principles for the strategy are that a universal, joined up system of trusted gateway and advice providers will deliver the types and level of advice needed to reach people with particular legal needs and hard to serve populations. Collaboration is key to local advice services provision, so that wherever people are when they realise they have a problem that advice could help, or wherever they go to get support, a door opens up to all the services available in the advice network – No Wrong Door. These recommendations also recognise that we should aim to provide Advice for All, but that demand for free legal advice currently far outstrips supply.
Key recommendations include: - Develop a long-term network funding strategy to increase advice provision in Liverpool - Organisational collaboration to maximise advice capacity - Identify and fund independent advice in all new Council strategies and projects - Nominate a key Council directorate with responsibility for ensuring appropriate independent advice is provided across its work programme - Consult the advice network at an early stage of programme design - Consult LATAN and its members on an annual basis; using their evidence base of advice needs. - Implement a secure, digital. combined advice directory and referral system. Co-designed by the University of Liverpool and the Liverpool Access to Advice Network members in late 2022, the Liverpool Advice Strategy sets out a framework and guiding principles for the development of a robust cross-sector advice strategy that works towards a well-funded, connected and valued sector that can respond to residents’ need for advice. The LATAN strategy sets out the context for the development of a cross-sector strategy, including highlighting the limited advice that is available, the loss of funding/resources that the sector has undergone, and the value of advice to the public purse. “At present there are a diverse number of organisations involved in a person’s journey to getting advice, but there are a very limited number of places to get legal advice. (Source: Organ, et al. 2020). This advice ecosystem is limited, fragile and complex.” “The seemingly high number of organisations that are stakeholders in the free legal advice sector must be set in the context of a sector that has suffered severe funding cuts in recent years, and where the majority of organisations act only as a gateway to the limited legal advice services that remain.” “There is very little remaining of specialist casework for the more complex situations in all areas of social welfare law. (Source: Organ, et al. 2020; EHRC, 2018).” “The advice sector provides significant social and economic benefit to Liverpool’s communities and residents; for example, reducing health inequalities, keeping people in work and saving the public purse an estimated £8,000 per year for each client that receives specialist advice (Leckie, Munro and Pragnell; Pragmatix, 2021).” The LATAN Liverpool Advice Strategy identifies collaboration, a unified joined up system of advice providers and gateway organisations, and recognition and investment of the local authority as key to the development of a well-functioning (because well-funded and effective) advice sector.
Liverpool Access to Advice Network was formed in 2020 as part of a ground-breaking project funded by Liverpool City Council (LCC), and delivered in partnership by the University of Liverpool and Citizens Advice Liverpool.
The University of Liverpool (UoL) School of Law and Social Justice (SLSJ) has played a key role in the development of Liverpool Access to Advice Network, through both its research and mapping of advice services in Liverpool.
This section highlights the research undertaken by the School of Law and Social Justice, as well as surveys/research that LATAN has undertaken in relation to the Liverpool free legal advice sector.
LATAN Demand for Advice &
Capacity Survey 2023 - Full Report
In June and July of 2023 LATAN invited members of the network to participate in an online survey about their current situation including the extent and nature of demand, pressures on services and the experience of clients and staff. The survey also asked for information on funding and sustainability.
Discussions amongst the Network had already painted a picture of a level of demand which was unprecedented in its scale, complexity and urgency. The results from the survey provide a stark picture of the reality of demand for advice that organisations are facing, and the impact on clients as well as the organisations.
LATAN Demand for Advice & Capacity Survey 2023 - Summary Infographic
LATAN developed an infographic as a summary of the Demand for Advice & Capacity Survey Full Report.
For a quick snapshot of the survey findings download the infographic.
Liverpool City Council Budget Proposals for 2023: Response to Consultation
In December 2022 and January 2023 Liverpool City Council undertook a consultation on their proposals for the financial year 2023/24, for a range of budget changes that, if implemented, would affect the level of financial and other support to residents.
• Reducing or phasing out the Benefit Maximisation Service (BMS)
• Reductions in Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP)
• Reducing the maximum amount of Council Tax Support (CTS)
• Changes to Citizens Support Scheme (CSS)
• Reductions in support to people with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF)
• Reductions in One Stop Shop services
As part of the LCC consultation process, Liverpool Access to Advice Network surveyed network members to gauge their views on the proposed budgets. Responses from LATAN members were combined into a report that was submitted to the consultation. The report highlights the damaging effect that individual proposals would have for residents, and for the advice sector in Liverpool, as well as the cumulative impact of these changes if they were to be approved by Liverpool City Council.
University of Liverpool Reports
The impact of LASPO on routes to justice
The University of Liverpool
Dr James Organ and Dr Jennifer Sigafoos
The report reviews and identifies the reality of access to advice for many people following the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) in 2013.
Following interviews with over 100 people in and around Liverpool facing problems in the areas of family, employment, and welfare benefits law, this research report details the emotional, social, financial, and mental health impacts for people who have attempted to resolve their legal issues without legal aid.
With the changes to Legal Aid brought in under LASPO, those seeking to resolve their legal issues are faced with either paying for legal representation themselves, trying to find free support, or navigating the problem on their own – resulting in considerable impact on people’s access to justice.
Increasing Access to Justice in Liverpool Project: Preliminary Findings
The University of Liverpool
James Organ, Jennifer Sigafoos, Sophie Wickham, Gordon Dim and Iqra Mazhir
The Access to Justice Project, an innovative partnership based project, was initially funded in 2019 by Liverpool City Council, and worked with the University of Liverpool’s School of Law and Social Justice, and Citizens Advice Liverpool (who won the tender to employ the project’s network development manager).
The report outlines the background to the project, changes that were made to the project delivery due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the project findings to date (July 2020).
Responding to COVID-19 in the Liverpool City Region
The University of Liverpool
Dr James Organ, Dr Jennifer Sigafoos, Dr Sophie Wickham and Dr Gordon Schenwi-Dim
The Policy Briefing Report outlines the impact of COVID-19 on access to legal advice, particularly highlighting the barriers for people to access advice (including the increase in demand for advice that COVID-19 has resulted in), the need for innovation and collaboration in the delivery of advice, and the need for investment in the advice sector to increase the level of advice available.
Access to Justice: Network Development and Visual representation of advice provision in Liverpool
The University of Liverpool
Sophie Wickham James Organ
As part of the Access to Justice Project (2020 to 2022), the development of an advice network, and the mapping of free legal advice provision in Liverpool were two main project objectives.
Research was undertaken to map the provision (and gaps) of free legal advice in Liverpool, in order to understand the advice ecosystem in Liverpool, and to develop the advice network, ensuring that it is relevant and inclusive.
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