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Charities given over £400k to provide legal services after Universal Credit roll out

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A London funder has awarded three law charities funding for welfare, immigration and legal services following an increase in demand after the roll out of Universal Credit.

City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, awarded £136,700 to Camden Community Law Centre, £185,800 to Islington Law Centre and £101,000 to Southwark Law Centre to help the capital’s most vulnerable in legal battles.

Islington Law Centre’s money will fund a specialist Welfare Benefits Advisor to provide advice on the rollout of Universal Credit in Islington. The advisor will deliver casework and representation to clients, as well as training volunteers who will be making the initial contact with clients to give the right support. The charity aims to support over 160 people each year, helping them claim benefits where they are entitled to do so and representing them in tribunals where needed.

Southwark Law Centre’s funding will provide specialist immigration and asylum advice to vulnerable people in Southwark. With shrinking legal aid provision, the funding from City Bridge Trust will allow the charity to take on more complex and pioneering cases.

Camden Community Law Centre will use the grant to meet an increasing demand for legal advice and representation for people accessing welfare benefits. Over the last couple of years the Centre says it has seen disabled people, those with long term health conditions and single parents disproportionately affected by welfare reform. The charity will help people in Camden prepare tribunal appeals for people representing themselves or will support those needing legal representation.

Alison Gowman, Chair of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said:

“Our funding for projects offering legal services in Camden, Islington and Southwark will help charities battling an increase in need.

“Universal Credit was recently fully rolled out in these boroughs and there is a high demand for such expertise and valuable services.

“We are fully committed to reducing inequality across London and creating more cohesive communities. Tackling disadvantage across the capital is essential to make London a fairer and better place to live.”

Sally Causer, Executive Director of Southwark Law Centre, added:

“Southwark Law Centre provides high quality immigration advice for the most disadvantaged members of the community who have no means to pay for legal advice.

“The main cause of homelessness and destitution for many migrants is the lack of legal status in the UK.

“The funding from City Bridge Trust will help us to take on some of these complex and long-standing immigration problems, and help tackle destitution in the UK.”

Ruth Hayes, Director of Islington Law Centre, said:

“Islington is now seeing the impact of the roll out of Universal Credit, and it’s clear that it is leading to an increase in the need for specialist advice.

“Islington Law Centre is delighted to have been awarded a grant from City Bridge Trust to help us respond effectively to this need and to extend the services available to local residents.

“The increased capacity will have a major impact for our clients and will enable us to build on the links that we have with other community groups so that we can ensure that we help those most in need.”

Sean Canning, Director of Camden Community Law Centre, added:

“This grant will enable us to provide much needed advice and representation to people affected by the ongoing pace of welfare reform and the challenges of Universal Credit.

“It will help to mitigate the worse effects of welfare reform and enable people to transform their lives and become more resilient.”

City Bridge Trust is the funding arm of the City of London Corporation’s charity, Bridge House Estates. It is London’s biggest independent grant giver, making grants of £20 million a year to tackle disadvantage across the capital.

The Trust has awarded around 7,900 grants totalling over £380 million since it first began in 1995. It helps achieve the City Corporation’s aim of changing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Londoners.

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