Birmingham Law Centre appeals to council in survival battle

Birmingham Law Centre has turned to Birmingham City Council as it fights for its future, warning that without local support it could close.

The law centre is one of only a handful in the country that receives no local authority funding. It has launched an appeal for council support, saying that in the wake of government funding cuts it is “in danger of being unable to help” potential clients and may have to close.

Yesterday the law centre lobbied outside Birmingham City Council for help, and representatives are due to meet council leader Albert Bore on Friday.

A question was raised about funding for the law centre at yesterday’s council meeting. In his response, Bore said the council’s own budget reduction proposals did not affect the law centre due to the fact that no aid is granted to the centre.

Bore said all public sector and advice bodies were facing “significant financial pressures”, adding: “In this current climate it is therefore regrettable that the council will not be able to make financial provision for Birmingham Law Centre, though it may be able to advise on wider funding opportunities to sustain their operation.”

The centre employs four solicitors and eight caseworkers, and opens up to 2,000 new cases each year on welfare benefits, debt and social welfare issues.

An online petition appealing to the council has so far attracted around 750 signatures.

Birmingham Law Centre chief executive Pete Lowen did not return calls for comment.