Latest Public Sector News

02.07.13

Grayling open to ‘alternatives’ on legal aid cuts

The Government is to ‘look again’ at plans to introduce competitive tendering for legal aid awards, which would effectively remove their right to choose their own solicitor.

Justice secretary Chris Grayling wanted to see fewer but bigger organisations to provide legal aid and those earning more than £37,500 would not have automatic access to state support.

The plans are part of a move to cut £220m from the annual criminal case legal aid budget in England and Wales. The MoJ has to make a further 10% cuts in 2015-16.

Critics of the plan argued that people would be allocated a representative on the basis of cost and that defendants will not get a fair trial if they need specialist advice.

Grayling said he was now prepared to reconsider, in a letter to Commons Justice Committee chairman Sir Alan Beith. He wrote: “The rationale for proposing this change was to give greater certainty of case volume for providers, making it easier and more predictable for them to organise their businesses.

“It is not a policy objective in its own right. However, I have heard clearly from the Law Society and other respondents that they regard client choice as fundamental to the effective delivery of criminal legal aid.

“I am therefore looking again at this issue and expect to make changes to allow a choice of solicitor for clients receiving criminal legal aid.

“As I have consistently made clear, this is a genuine consultation. I have made clear throughout that I am open to alternative proposals that meet the same objectives, including delivering the same level of savings.”

Maura McGowan QC, chairwoman of the Bar Council, said: “We welcome the government's change of heart on this, but we hope it is also listening to the many voices which are clear that price competitive tendering in any form is not a suitable mechanism for allocating legal aid contracts.

“Legal aid contracts should not just go to the bidders who are willing to do the work for the lowest price."

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@publicsectorexecutive.com

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been the r more > more last word articles >

public sector focus

View all News

comment

Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Bei... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues t... more >

interviews

Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need ... more >

the raven's daily blog

NSPCC: Working together to improve the support available for children who have been sexually abused

08/10/2019NSPCC: Working together to improve the support available for children who have been sexually abused

Hayley Clark, the acting head of development and impact at the NSPCC, talks about the significant gap in support services for children who have been sexually abused and the Ho... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this feeling of imminent change than the article James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has penned for us on p28. In it, he highlights... read more >