Headlines: October 19th, 2009

Manchester is to launch the biggest community legal advice service in England and Wales. The nine million pound scheme will see six new centres being opened in communities where local people have been hit hardest by the recession.

The City Council has been working in partnership with the Legal Services Commission to develop the centres which, for the first time, will bring together civil legal aid advice and social welfare guidance under one roof. A key element of the scheme has been to ensure that the centres are accessible to everyone so advice will be available in the evenings and at weekends.

The community advice centres will open in October next year and Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Adult Services, Glynn Evans said the authority was proud to be developing a new model of community advice. “It is a key part of the council’s Helping Hands initiative which aims to help residents cope with the effects of the current recession,” he said and added: “Residents will be able to access the expertise they need all under one roof and at times that are convenient to them.”

The Legal Services Commission works with vulnerable people on issues of social and legal justice. Carolyn Schofield, its Area Relationship Manager for Manchester said: “The Council’s local knowledge, plus our expertise in funding legal advice, will come together to mean better access to justice for people in Manchester, while ensuring best use of taxpayers’ money.”