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Covid-19 Funding Support Welcomed

Community Law Centres welcome the additional Government funding announced to help address increased demand for free legal services due to COVID-19.

Minister of Justice Andrew Little today announced an additional $3.47m over three years for Community Law Centres as part of the Government’s COVID-19 response. The increase will add $1.2m to Community Law services in the current financial year.

“Increased funding will help Community Law Centres to help the increasing number of people affected by the impact of the pandemic response,” says Community Law Centres O Aotearoa Chief Executive, Sue Moroney. “It will help us to support people to protect the most important building blocks in their lives – their families, their jobs, their homes.”

“We have already seen increased need for legal support as people grapple with job losses, changing conditions of work, family law matters and tenancy issues. We expect further waves of demand to hit for our services for months and years to come with demand also growing for legal support on debt and finance issues.”

The funding increase comes at a crucial time for the 24 Community Law Centres, which have also suffered a decline in donations that help fund services because of COVID-19.

“Like many charitable organisations, we are working hard to support people to pick up the pieces while facing financial challenges ourselves. It is important that services like Community Law are supported to deal with higher demand in tough times,” says Sue.

“When the Global Financial Crisis hit in 2008, funding for community law services was frozen for a decade, even though we had a high growth in demand. We applaud the current Government for taking a better approach and therefore improving access to justice during tough times.”

Base funding for Community Law services has increased by 40% during the term of this Government – much of which was required to address the impact of a 10-year funding freeze while unmet legal need grew.

“It’s too early to know how much demand will grow for Community Law services during the COVID-19 response, but we do know this funding will allow us to tackle some of it,” says Sue.

“I’m proud that community law services have continued to be available throughout all alert levels while keeping up to speed with rapidly-changing laws and regulations. It has been a real testament to the passion and commitment of staff and volunteers to their communities.”

 

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