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Barnet Law Service in Hendon facing closure over funding cuts
A free legal advice service that helps hundreds of people every year is facing closure because of funding cuts.
Barnet Law Service, based in Bell Lane, Hendon, provides specialist advice and representation to its clients in areas of employment, welfare benefits and immigration.
Most elements of the case work were moved beyond the scope of legal aid in April, and the organisation says it is struggling to cope with a 25 per cent cut in council funding since it was founded.
Executives at the service say they are facing a £65,000 deficit this financial year, and it will face closure if it cannot find the cash.
Executive director Marilyn Sparrow said: “This will be a great loss to the residents of Barnet as there is nowhere else where they can obtain free specialist legal advice in these areas of law now legal aid has been cut so much.
“Our staff work with diligence, commitment and passion to achieve exceptional successes for their clients – gaining over £300,000 in employment tribunal awards or DWP payments during the last ten months of this year alone.
“This all comes back into the local economy so, for a relatively tiny cost, Barnet Council receives incredible value for money."
Directors are looking for a financial rescue package to keep the service afloat, claiming its income has shrunk to the point where trustees “cannot see a viable future”.
The Barnet Law Service works closely with the borough’s Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB), through which it receives its remaining council funding.
Barnet CAB chief executive Tim Clark said: “We have worked closely together for many years and it will be a severe loss for local people if such an excellent organisation as Barnet Law Service has to close, particularly at a time of great need due to the impact of reform to welfare benefits and the adverse economic situation.”
The Times Series has requested a comment from Barnet Council.
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