Manchester

Protest over South Manchester Law Centre's future

Protest outside Manchester Town Hall
Image caption South Manchester Law Centre has been giving advice for 35 years

Campaigners who say the future of a law centre is in doubt after funding cuts have staged a protest outside Manchester Town Hall.

South Manchester Law Centre, Longsight, gives advice on issues including asylum, immigration and employment.

The Legal Services Commission (LSC) and the city council have stopped funding new cases in employment, housing or benefits at the centre.

They have transferred funding for those cases to a new legal service.

SMLC spokesman Sukhdeep Singh, said it was negotiating with the council over the centre's future and some of its staff would be working for the Citizen's Advice Bureau.

'Closure shock'

"But there is still immigration and women's rights work Protest over law centre's futurewhich nobody will be able to do in Manchester because there's no money," he said.

Mr Singh said the centre, which has given free legal advice for the last 35 years, would close if it lost its funding.

"People are quite shocked by the fact that an organisation which has existed for about 35 years is suddenly going to go," he added.

The new Manchester Community Legal Advice Service is due to open this month.

The LSC previously said it had given funding through a competitive tender process and the South Manchester Law Centre had failed in their bid for funding.

South Manchester Law Centre, which opened in 1976, will continue to get funds from the LSC for asylum and immigration cases.

The centre claims it will mean its monthly income will drop from £50,000 per month to less than £10,000.

'National reputation'

The protest was held before a meeting of Manchester City Council.

It follows a demonstration on 29 September and a public meeting on 7 October, attended by hundreds of people.

A spokeswoman for the centre: "Without a restoration of its funding, the law centre is likely to face closure.

"And as the residents of Manchester have highlighted, this would mean the city losing a long established and highly valued advice agency with a national reputation for its expertise."

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