New Zealand’s network of community law centres, who operate out of more than 140 locations across the country, have today received a much needed boost, says Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern.
“After more than 8 years of static funding from the Government, several banks have stepped in to help fill the funding shortfall.
“Most MPs will have referred someone to a Community Law Centre over the years. They do critical work. But the fact that they have experienced a cut in their funding of more than $1 million in real terms has been really limiting.
“Community Law Centres are in part funded by the Ministry of Justice, but for more than two decades they have also received a percentage of the interest from solicitors’ nominated trust accounts to a Lawyers and Conveyancers Special Fund. The remaining interest has gone to the banks to cover administration costs.
Two years ago both BNZ and TSB voluntarily halved the percentage they retained, handing the rest over to Community Law Centres. Today Westpac, ASB and ANZ have all announced they will do the same.
“I want to thank the major banks for their recognition of the amazing work that our community law centres do. I also want to seek assurances from the Government that this contribution will not lead to any decrease in what is already static funding to the centres on their part.
“This increase has no doubt been made in good faith so that community law centres can increase the work they do in our community, and to ensure they can cover basic costs. It’s not for the government to retreat on their part of the deal.
“We all benefit in some way or another from the work these centres do – I hope this move today acts as a reprieve and a much needed boost,” says Jacinda Arden.