Create a Levy for Free Access to Justice: An Open Letter to Andy Burnham
Issued 3rd July 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Greater Manchester Law Centre (GMLC) have delivered their open letter to the new Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham. They propose a levy on Manchester’s corporate sector to fund free legal services for people in poverty and vulnerability.
The 2016 Bach Commission Report shows that the number of law centres has halved between 2005 and 2015, and legal aid no longer covers most cases involving housing, welfare, debt, or immigration. GMLC’s letter asks Burnham to tackle these barriers to justice with new ideas:
“We share your belief that radical forward thinking is needed to build a new future for Greater Manchester… To survive, we need to be creative. Let’s fund our free, face-to-face, high quality legal advice and professional legal representation by imposing a levy on commercial law firms.”
GMLC opened in August 2016 with premises in Moss Side. They currently specialise in welfare benefit claims. Due to law centre closures and cuts to legal services, their community-led model relies on innovative funding methods, and they campaign alongside other organisations for free access to justice.
Andy Burnham was elected as Greater Manchester Mayor in May 2017. His manifesto outlines his ambition for Greater Manchester to become “a beacon of social justice to the country”. Emphasis has been placed on his plans to tackle homelessness, including donating 15% of his salary and an appeal to Greater Manchester’s property sector for support.
Andy Burnham visited GMLC in March 2017 and expressed his support: “I fully support the idea of the Greater Manchester Law Centre and congratulate all those involved in getting it off the ground… Face to face advice cannot be replaced”.
GMLC are inviting members of the public to sign their open letter, which is available here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/gmlc
Greater Manchester Law Centre is at 159 Princess Road, Moss Side, Manchester M14 4RE.
The Greater Manchester Law Centre aims to provide access to free and independent legal advice and representation for the people of Greater Manchester, as well as being a campaign for justice and properly funded legal aid.
Contact: Roz Burgin and Astrid Johnson, Development Workers, development[at]gmlaw[dot]org[dot]uk
Tel: 0161 769 2244