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Legal aid charities start partnership before cuts to programmes begin to bite

Legal advice charities Lasa and Legal Action Group have moved in together in the start of a strategic partnership designed to help both organisations weather the storm of legal aid cuts to come.

Both Lasa and LAG have cited funding cuts to legal advice and changes in government spending on social welfare as prompting the move. Lasa suffered a significant fall in income following the ending of a substantial grant. The two charities, each with income presently just below £1m, have taken up residence together and will remain separate charities for the meantime, but are not ruling out merger.

The pair intend to work together in developing joint products to support individuals in accessing social welfare and legal aid as government drastically reduces its support for legal advice services.

Speaking to civilsociety.co.uk, Lasa chief executive Terry Stokes (pictured) said the charities had been in discussions about working together for years, and following a downsizing at Lasa last year and both charities coming to the end of their leases the opportunity arose to co-habit.

“Our first step was to move in together and see how we get on. This isn’t a merger. It’s a strategic partnership in the first instance, but we wouldn’t rule anything out down the track if that was the best fit for the organisations going forward,” Stokes said.

Lasa chair Poonam Bhari said her charity is pleased with the new, closer working partnership.

LAG has a focus in print publications to the legal community, while Lasa produces online products and services covering social welfare and law. “There is likely to be the opportunity for joint working on projects and sharing recourses in the future,” she said. “The LAG board and staff will be undertaking a strategic review in autumn/winter 2013 to consider LAG's policy and plans going forward.”

This article was taken from the Civil Society website