Apply for a Grant

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The Expression of Interest (EOI) stage of Round 2 of the Improving Lives Through Advice (ILTA) grants programme is now open and will close on 15 January 2024 at 4pm.

Please read this guidance carefully before completing the online expression of interest form.

The Fund

Improving Lives Through Advice is supported by £30 million from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest community funder in the UK, to provide access to specialist social welfare legal advice. Thanks to National Lottery players, the funding will enable approximately 75 expert organisations to support some of the most marginalised communities in England – including people with disabilities, women fleeing abuse and families facing eviction.

Improving Lives Through Advice (ILTA) is a new five-year funding programme delivered by The Access to Justice Foundation with support from the Community Justice Fund. It is designed to support the delivery of free legal advice to marginalised people and communities across England. The programme opened for Round 1 in July 2023 and this is now closed. Round 2 is now open and grantees will be in place in 2024.

Key Dates

The Expression of Interest (EOI) stage for Round 2 opens on the 1 December 2023 and will close on 15 January 2024 at 4pm. Expressions of Interest will not be accepted after this time.

Please complete the online expression of interest form HERE. If you would like this application form in an alternative format, contact us at [email protected].

An offline copy of the expression of interest form can be downloaded here. All expressions must be submitted via the online form.

Information Session

We will hold a Round 2 information session on Wednesday 6 December from 11am to 12pm online. You can register for the event HERE. The aim will be to provide information on the guidance and eligibility and answer questions. This event will be recorded and shared here afterwards for those unable to attend. For those unable to attend the event please feel free to send any queries to [email protected] and we will aim to answer your questions at the event.

What are the key outcomes for the fund?

The aim is to improve access to high quality specialist advice for the people who need it most.

We will make multi -year core cost grants to organisations who can help us achieve the following outcomes:

  1. Advice to people from marginalised communities is sustained and improved.
    We recognise that in certain areas of England and amongst certain communities and groups people have poorer access to specialist legal advice than others. We want to make grants to organisations working to improve access to advice for communities experiencing the greatest need due to poverty, disadvantage, and discrimination.
  2. More people from marginalised communities are empowered to identify, understand and resolve their legal problems.
    We recognise that organisations led by and for the communities they serve are often able to engage and build trust with the people and groups they represent. We want to make grants to organisations to support the development of partnerships with communities, specialist advice organisations, statutory services and the wider advice sector. Through greater sharing and advice coordination communities can be empowered and supported in resolving their legal matters.
  3. Organisations have more capacity to engage in influencing, partnerships and fundraising work, which helps them meet the needs of their communities.
    We want to make grants that enable organisations to have the capacity and resource to engage with their communities and support them to resolve their legal issues. We recognise that longer term core funding can enable organisations to develop partnerships, work to leverage further funding and influence policy and/or practice (but will not use this funding for lobbying, or to influence Government or political parties).
  4. Organisations are better able to demonstrate the difference they make to people’s lives.
    We understand that organisations that sit at the heart of their communities (and communities of interest) and which have been developed for and by those communities are often better placed to understand and demonstrate their impact and the difference they make to people’s lives. We want to make grants to organisations with a track record and commitment to learning and evaluation, and that are willing to use learning to shape their services and support them to understand impact.

Please use this Expression of Interest to tell us how you are working towards the outcomes highlighted above including:

  • What you are currently doing
    We recognise that organisations may already be doing great things and we want to hear about them so please be specific in telling us how you may already be meeting these outcomes and the difference you are making for the communities you work to support.

  • What the funding will enable you to do
    What is your vision over the grant period and where would you like to be in 5 years time? We understand that organisations may not have had the funding needed to sustain services, develop partnerships or invest in infrastructure so tell us what the funding will enable you to do and the difference this will make to the communities you support.

This does not need to be a shiny new proposal for how the organisation will work, it could simply mean recruiting more staff, paying rent or updating systems and that’s ok but we are interested to know how this will enable you to improve access to advice for those most in need.

Who is eligible to apply for round two?

To be eligible for funding, an organisation must be:

  • registered with the Charity Commission and working in England


  • able to demonstrate a track record of delivering legal advice services to those most in need


  • able to demonstrate and evidence a track record of supporting access to advice services. For example, this could be through involvement in a health justice partnership, having an established referral pathway to advice services or co-location of services with advice agencies.

How will we decide who to fund?

Please note that we will fund organisations, not projects

This will be an open funding round but we will be prioritising funding to organisations:

Based in particular geographical locations


Led by and for particular communities and/or groups of people

We define ‘led by’ as when more than 75% of an organisation’s Trustees and more than 50% of staff members (including senior staff) are people from the community or communities that an organisation seeks to serve or which have lived experience of the issues the organisation is tackling.

Funding will be prioritised to led by and for organisations representing the following:

  • LGBTQIA+ Community
  • Mental Health
  • Older people
  • Young people
  • Survivors and/or those fleeing domestic abuse

Working outside of London and operating in the following areas:

  • East of England
  • West Midlands
  • Northeast England

What are the key priorities?

We will be assessing expressions of interest against the following priorities: -

  1. Can demonstrate a commitment to the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion in their ways of working both internally and externally.
    We will prioritise organisations that can demonstrate they recognise and are actively attempting to dismantle the multiple barriers to accessing justice that exist for many in their communities due to race, disability, gender, or any other reason, particularly organisations developing strong connections with local communities, including in staffing and governance, or by working collaboratively. We will prioritise organisations that can clearly demonstrate a commitment to EDI at all levels of their organisation and its activities, and who listen to the people they seek to support about their needs and experiences of accessing services making any necessary changes.

    We recognise that organisations may be at different stages and therefore we welcome expressions of interest from organisations who have a vision for how they want to address this but who may be at the start of this journey, as well as from organisations who want to use the funding to expand or develop their approach.

  2. Challenge themselves to ensure the services they provide meet need, are high quality and represent value for money.
    We are keen to work with organisations that:
    a) have systems in place to identify and prioritise those most in need, adapting services accordingly
    b) are reflective about the quality of their services and have adopted a positive learning culture to make changes where needed and
    c) ensure that their limited resources are used in the most impactful way

  3. Have a commitment to learning and evidence and can demonstrate the difference they make and the impact they have.
    This programme will have a strong emphasis on learning together, so it is important we work with organisations who are committed to an open and honest approach to sharing what works and what doesn’t, and who are open to developing ways of evaluating and learning to demonstrate impact.

  4. Have strong connections with people, places and communities and can evidence meaningful community involvement, including in their staffing and governance, and by working collaboratively.
    We want to work with organisations keen to build on existing and/or develop new partnerships with organisations providing specialist legal advice. This will involve a more thoughtful and systematic approach to, understanding the advice needs of the community/groups your organisation supports, engaging with specialist advice organisations, and an understanding of where advice provision sits within the overall ecosystem of the community.

    We can do more when supported by others. This can take many forms, such as working with other organisations as part of a wider network, and by listening to the people you seek to support. We are interested in those playing a leading or coordinating role in a particular area of law, or in supporting a beneficiary group with particular needs. This could include the development of a health justice partnership or a collaboration aimed at addressing racial justice by connecting with other services, organisations or groups to achieve this.

  5. Are well run, making best use of resources and following best practice (e.g. in governance, financial management, safeguarding) and invest in staff well-being and in being supportive, inclusive places to work.
    We will prioritise organisations that can demonstrate how they challenge themselves to deliver impactful services in the most efficient and effective ways, including thoughtful use of technology and recognising the importance of investing in staff training and well-being.

  6. Use the learning from their work to influence broader change, whether locally or nationally.
    We want to support organisations who share knowledge where possible, for example with colleagues in the community space, or to influence attitudes to an issue or policy.

Who do we want to fund?

We want to work with organisations over the grant period to collate insight on what works and what doesn’t when trying to sustain or increase access to advice for marginalised communities. In order to do this, we need organisations to commit to working with us to evidence and understand:

  • The impact of specialist legal advice on the lives of people in marginalised communities, including what methods of engagement work best

This is so we can continue to make the case for the importance of advice services in transforming lives and empowering communities. We recognise that this funding isn’t enough to address the significant funding gap the advice sector is facing, and we want to fund organisations who can work with us to collate a robust evidence base which can be used to demonstrate the impact of advice.


  • Whether and how core cost funding helps organisations to increase their capacity for partnership working, fundraising and meeting community needs through increased reach

We continue to make the case for multi-year core funding recognising that longer term funding enables organisations to be more resilient and respond to changes as needed. We want to fund organisations who can work with us to evidence the impact of this type of funding and what it enables you to do.

Can you commit to being;

FLEXIBLE – Able to adapt to needs on the ground, utilise learning to shape services and make changes as needed to best serve those who most need advice and support.

COLLABORATIVE – Willing to work with us and others over the grant period so that we can collate a robust evidence base of what works, how and why in empowering people from marginalised communities to resolve their day-to-day legal problems.

This often means engaging directly with those who are most in need but aren’t accessing services to collaboratively seek solutions, and we are unlikely to fund your organisation if you are not engaging or considering engaging in order to better support access to justice.

HONEST – Open about sharing the challenges and successes the organisation experiences over the grant period (especially the challenges). We recognise that things don’t always go to plan but we are interested in capturing this learning so we can understand the different approaches, models and ways of working which are most effective and why.

We recognise that in order to do this you will need to allocate some of the funding to the learning and evaluation aspects of this programme, and this is ok.

Why core funding?

Core funding is funding that can be spent on an organisation’s core functions and can be used to support things like salaries, rent, utility costs, training and development. These are the core, administrative costs of running your organisation.

We are aware that this differs to project or restricted funding which is usually awarded for a specific activity, service or project that you are delivering.

We know that long term core funding can help to strengthen the capacity of an organisation and provide vital funding for development and planning. This is why we are awarding 5-year core cost grants because we know this supports well-resourced, financially stable organisations that are able to invest in their infrastructure. This in turn means that organisations can better respond to the needs of communities leading to wider social outcomes.

What will we fund?

This is a five-year core costs funding programme, and the requirement is that all of the funding be spent in England only.

Some examples of what we will fund can be found below;

  • direct costs associated with delivering services - this can include project staff, materials, equipment, room hire, volunteer expenses and project evaluations
  • organisational development - this can include business planning, testing new ways of working, staff training and development, developing governance and leadership, tech or IT upgrades/purchases, developing and sharing impact and learning, and increasing capacity to support collaboration and partnership working
  • core/fixed costs to support the day-to-day running of your organisation - this can include core salaries, rent, utilities, equipment

You can apply for funding through Improving Lives Through Advice (ILTA) if you have applied for, or are in receipt of, a grant from The National Lottery Community Fund and/or The Access to Justice Foundation but there must be no duplication of costs between any current award that you are in receipt of and ILTA. Your organisation’s accounts should clearly detail information of all grants that you are in receipt of and confirm that they are for different purposes. Please get in touch if you need any clarification or have any questions about this.

What won’t we fund?

The Grant may not be used for the following activities:

  • Organisations and activities outside of England
  • Specific projects or services
  • Matters covered by the Legal Aid Scheme
  • Private sector legal aid practices
  • Individuals
  • Activities that make profits for private gain
  • Payment that supports lobbying or activity intended to influence or attempt to influence Parliament, Government or political parties, or attempting to influence the awarding or renewal of contracts and grants, or attempting to influence legislative or regulatory action (any lobbying activity);
  • Using grant funding to petition for additional funding;
  • Input VAT reclaimable by Grant Recipient from HMRC;
  • Payments for activities of an exclusively religious nature
  • Payments reimbursed or to be reimbursed by other public or private sector grants;
  • Contributions in kind (i.e. a contribution in goods or services, as opposed to money);
  • The acquisition or improvement of fixed assets
  • Entertaining (entertaining for this purpose means anything that would be a taxable benefit to the person being entertained, according to current UK tax regulations);
  • Statutory fines, criminal fines or penalties;
  • Liabilities incurred by the Grant Recipient before the issue of any Grant Agreement unless agreed in writing by the Fund.

How much funding is available?

The funding available will depend on the size of your organisation. When applying please indicate how much funding you are applying for based on your annual income as per the information below:

  • Annual income above £250k: Can apply for funding up to £100k per annum - maximum of £500,000 over 5 years

  • Annual income between £150 - £250k: Can apply for funding up to £75K per annum – maximum of £375,000 over 5 years

  • Annual income below £150k: Can apply for funding up to £50k per annum – maximum of £250,000 over 5 years

Grants will run for 5 years from 2024 to 2029.

We will make ILTA grants across England but cannot guarantee that the funding will include every region. Exact locations will depend on the nature of applications received and our areas of focus.

Application Process

There is a two-stage application process.

We are now inviting expressions of interest from organisations committed to improving access to advice for marginalised communities who can demonstrate how they would use the funding to better understand their communities and involve them in shaping their approach in order to improve and sustain access to justice in the long term.

You can find the expression of interest form HERE.

If you require this in an alternative format please email [email protected]. An offline copy of the expression of interest form can be downloaded here. All expressions must be submitted via the online form.

A cohort of applicants who meet the criteria will then be invited to complete an application form and we will complete a detailed financial assessment as part of the application process. We may also ask to speak with you as part of the assessment process.

What is the assessment process?

There will be particular questions highlighted in the Expression of Interest which will be scored according to the following scale from 1 to 5:

  1. Does not answer question
  2. Poor answer with little relevant detail
  3. Okay answer with some detail
  4. Good response with good detail
  5. Excellent response with high quality detail

Final grant decisions are made by The Access to Justice Foundation Grants Committee and all decisions are final.

We anticipate receiving a high number of expressions of interest as we know how vital long term core funding can be. Due to the limited funding available this will mean that in many instances an expression of interest may very well meet the criteria and be eligible for funding but still won’t be successful in being invited to make an application because there simply isn’t enough money available.

This is why we will continue to make the case for investment in the legal advice sector recognising the significant funding gap that the ILTA programme will be unable to fill.


The Expression of Interest (EOI) stage for Round 2 will open on the 1 December 2023 and close on 15 January 2024 at 4pm. Expressions of Interest will not be accepted after this time.

All organisations will be notified of the outcome of their expression of interest once the process has been completed. We anticipate notifying organisations in mid-February 2024.