"Speaking at a meeting in parliament organised by the campaign group Justice for All on 1 May, civil society minister Nick Hurd was evasive on how and when the £40m allocated for advice services in the budget would be spent. He was speaking on the same day that the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill received royal assent, and admitted that the cash was earmarked to help advice charities deal 'with the legal aid cliff'.
In comments about the £16.8m Advice Services Fund which has already been distributed to 301 advice charities in England, Nick Hurd said: 'At the time of very little money being around we did find at the centre some money to plug the gap left by local government.' He told the meeting, which was well attended by parliamentarians and representatives from the advice sector, that the government’s advice review would be published later in the year: 'There will be a compelling story to tell on how we can configure services to meet demand.' He also acknowledged that 'government needs to be a lot smarter in reducing demand in the system', and argued that the £40m pot for the UK, which will be spent over the next two financial years, should be used 'to incentivise local support and funding' for advice services and to 'help deliver a better integrated system', but not to support 'business as usual' for the sector. The minister would not give details on the criteria or timescale for applications to the fund saying only that the government 'needs a bit of time to plan to get it right'. ................................"