Thursday, 21 August 2014

Shelter forced to close advice offices

Homelessness charity Shelter is being forced to press ahead with closing 10 of its housing advice offices in England because of legal aid cuts.

The organisation expects this could mean up to 100 redundancies but said it was ‘doing everything we can to keep the numbers as low as possible’.

Government cuts to legal aid will mean a 50 per cent reduction in funding for the charity’s face-to-face advice services.

Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, said:  ‘This is a result of the huge cuts to legal aid in England, which we campaigned vigorously against. 

‘The cuts have meant some difficult decisions about how we best use the resources we have to help those in housing need. While service closures are absolutely a last resort, we simply cannot fill the gap created by the scale of these cuts with other sources.’

Staff have already been notified of the closures and Shelter is currently consulting with them.

Mr Robb added: ‘If these services do have to close, this will be a massive blow to people in these areas who will no longer be able to get face-to-face advice and support from Shelter.

‘We will be doing all we can to ensure people around the country can still get help with their housing problems through our helpline and website.’

The government is looking at cutting the £2 billion legal aid bill by £350 million a year by 2014/15.

The Shelter offices are in Rotherham, Ashford, Chatham, Dover, Milton Keynes, Cheshire, Gloucester, Somerset, Hertfordshire and Cumbria.

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