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To: Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester

Andy Burnham: Create a Levy for Free Access to Justice

Andy Burnham: Create a Levy for Free Access to Justice

Dear Andy Burnham,

The Greater Manchester Law Centre invites you to fund pro bono and charitable legal services by introducing a levy on Manchester’s corporate legal sector.

Your manifesto declares that Greater Manchester will be ‘a beacon of social justice to the country’, ‘where no one is left behind’. To achieve this, access to justice is as essential as access to healthcare and education. We share your belief that radical forward thinking is needed to build a new future for Greater Manchester, and we invite you to put this into practice to support vital legal services.

Your ongoing support is valuable to us, and our most recent meeting at our premises in March this year was incredibly positive. Together we proposed a levy, whereby the Manchester’s corporate law firms will financially contribute to the pro bono and legal advice sector. We are now asking you to make this happen.

Why is this important?

Justice is being denied to the people of Greater Manchester. Legal aid no longer covers most cases involving housing, welfare, debt, immigration or medical negligence. Between 2005 and 2015, the number of not-for-profit legal advice centres in the country fell from 2,226 to 1,462[1]. Greater Manchester went from having nine law centres across our ten boroughs to only having two. But, our ever-defiant community refused to accept this, and together we fought to restore and improve access to justice for people in poverty and vulnerability.

It is thanks to this collective effort that the Greater Manchester Law Centre opened its doors in Moss Side last year, and we are making great strides to meet the advice and representation needs of those who need it most. We are fighting, together, for free access to justice. But we need more than words and encouragement, and we welcome your support for making similar legal services available across Greater Manchester.

This is Manchester, and we do things differently here. Let’s lead the way and try something new, and implement the idea we dreamed up together. 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.

Yours sincerely,

Roz Burgin, Development Worker
John Nicholson, Chair
Norma Turner, Management Committee
And community supporters of GMLC

** See media coverage of this open letter**
Solicitors Journal:
Law Society Gazette:
Our press release:


Greater Manchester

Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL

Reasons for signing

  • Vital that all people can be properly represented in front of the law.
  • The community is suffering so much and drastic action is needed. I believe Andy will do the right thing .
  • Should not have been removed in the first place!!!


2017-07-31 13:32:27 +0100

Full campaign statement from GMLC:

We are now engaged in constructive discussions with the Mayor’s office, and we are eager to see where this leads.

Our intention is to reinvigorate discussion around legal aid and funding for those in urgent need of free legal advice and representation. Signatories to our letter include film director Ken Loach, Human Rights lawyer Michael Mansfield QC, local peace activist Dr Erinma Bell MBE, former Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, Labour MP for Denton and Reddish Andrew Gwynne, lawyers and staff from supportive law firms and chambers, and members of other advice agencies across Greater Manchester.

2017-07-04 17:21:19 +0100

100 signatures reached

2017-07-04 14:19:09 +0100

50 signatures reached

2017-07-04 12:57:57 +0100

25 signatures reached

2017-07-04 12:39:11 +0100

10 signatures reached