One in 10 legal NfPs expect to close

NfP tableOne in 10 legal advice agencies have indicated that they expect to shut down, according to a survey of 718 not for profit (NfP) organisations. The latest Ministry of Justice figures profiled the sector, which it reckoned comprised a total of 1,462 organisations, and its response to the April 2013 LASPO reforms.

Over half of NfPs (54%) agreed that the LASPO reforms required them to make ‘major changes’ since April 2013, with more than six out of 10 having invested in new technology and almost one third increasing their geographical reach.

Almost four out of 10 NfPs (39%) described themselves as uncertain of their funding for legal advice – and 30% uncertain of their overall funding (see above table).

You can read the full report here.

 

Main findings

  • Over half of NfPs (54%) agreed that the LASPO reforms ‘required them to make major changes since 1 April 2013’;
  • Changes made post-April 2013 included NfPs investing in new technology (61%) and expanding the geographical reach of services (28%); and
  • One in 10 NfPs (10%) agreed that it was likely they would have to close completely. One in four (42%) anticipated increasing the number of outreach services.

The sector

  • Most organisations were well established: 83% reported that they had been providing legal advice for more than 10 years;
  • There was some evidence of new organisations emerging  – almost one in 10 (9%) had entered the sector within the last five years (this figure was likely to include mergers);
  • Only 10% of NfPs offered ‘online services’ (including Skype or live chat) and just 8% reported offering web-based automated programmes with no advisor input; and
  • The categories of law in which advice provision was most commonly offered – welfare benefits, debt and housing – were areas that had been cut from the legal aid scheme under LASPO.

Clients

  • Some 45% of NfPs reported offering a ‘client-specific’ advice service and ‘the most common client groups were women and older people’;
  • The average number of clients seen between 2012/13 and 2013/14 was ‘broadly stable’ – although almost one third 29% reported an increase in client numbers of more than 10%; and
  • Over half of NfPs (51%) reported there were ‘some client or problem types they had been unable to help with in the current financial year’ and, of these, 62% reported that this was due to a lack of resource, 49% reported that problems fell outside of their remit, and 47% reported not having the appropriate expertise.

Funding and finance

  • The majority of NfPs reported a total income between  £100,000 and £1m in the period 2012/13 to 2014/15. There was a decrease of six percent in the average income for legal advice provision over the period; and
  • Almost a quarter (24%) of NfPs experienced a 20% or more increase in funding, and a similar proportion (23%) experienced a 20% or more decrease.

Operational capacity

  • Over half of employees (56%) worked within legal advice provision;
  • A third (32%) of organisations reported an increase in paid employee numbers and 29% reported a decrease;
  • Almost all organisations (92%) used volunteers; and
  • There was strong evidence of partnership working amongst organizations, including participating in formal referral arrangements (74%), delivery of services through a partnership/consortium (63%), and sharing funding or premises (48% and 45% respectively).

 

 

 

Avatar

About Jon Robins

Jon is a journalist and has written about the law and justice for the national papers and specialist press for more than 15 years. Jon is a visiting journalism lecturer at Winchester University, a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln and patron of Hackney Community Law Centre. He has won the Bar Council’s legal reporter of the year award twice (2015 and 2005). Jon is editor and co-founder of LegalVoice

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *