CLS and job centres team up to fight ‘social marginalisation’

The Community Legal Service (CLS) plans to work with job centres to target social exclusion and provide legal advice to the needy.

Speaking at a conference last week, David Lammy, the minister responsible for the CLS at the Department for Constitutional Affairs, said the Government was determined to provide timely legal advice and services to vulnerable people who may “otherwise slide into social exclusion” by providing help over “such matters as poor or inadequate housing or problems paying bills”. He was talking at a conference organised by Barnsley Borough Council.

“If those who are vulnerable do not know where to turn for advice, whatever their difficulty, whether it’s in relation to the condition of their housing or with problems paying their bills, daily life inevitably becomes more precarious for them,” he said.

The minister said that CLS partnerships (which are formed by the Legal Services Commission in partnership with local authorities, not-for-profit organisations and other groups) were now seeking to broaden their work through new initiatives, such as working with Job Centres, as part of Government policy to tackle unemployment, but also through the Department of Health’s programme aimed at tackling health inequalities.

“Typically, a cluster effect emerges, as one unresolved problem leads to the emergence of others. Ultimately, such a downward spiral can lead to social marginalisation and exclusion, bringing with it huge cost and misery for individuals and for society as a whole,” said Lammy. “The Government is committed to promoting the work of the CLS partnerships, which by concentrating firmly on the needs of the client can continue to make a real difference to people’s daily lives in those areas where it’s most needed.”