Banks step in to support Community Law

After a three-year period of discussions, several major trading banks are stepping up to support the Community Law movement. Over the years, community law centres (CLCs) have been funded from the interest on Lawyers’ Trust Accounts. But when the global financial crisis struck in 2008, house sales slumped and CLC funding was severely threatened. Thankfully, the government filled that funding gap, but since then our overall funding has remained unchanged, resulting in a loss of spending power of $1.5m. CLCA approached all the major trading banks and through lengthy discussions, the banks agreed to share a larger portion of the interest on the Lawyers’ Trust Accounts.

We’re thrilled with this development, and with the fact that the funding will directly assist those CLCs working in areas of highest deprivation. It’s an important recognition of the valuable legal help our CLCs give to clients who can’t afford a private lawyer. Community Law is the largest law firm in New Zealand, assisting over 50,000 clients every year and giving legal education to 30,000 people every year.

Unfortunately CLCs still struggle to provide their much-needed services and we are calling on the Government to fund us properly. We will be talking to all political parties prior to the election to seek their recognition of the valuable work we do for people in high need.

Speaking of the upcoming election, like many other NGOs that work alongside struggling New Zealanders everyday, we believe the main issues for NZ leading up to the election are the issues affecting most of us, our children and future generations – housing, health, education, pay rates and the elimination of poverty – to make NZ a more equal place for us all to enjoy.

Elizabeth Tennet, July 2017

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