Grayling confirms draconian cuts

The proposals see :

– 17.5% cuts spread over two years

– Duty contracts with only 525 national contracts and only 7 in south Yorkshire as a whole

– Caps on Crown Court Cases under 500 pages

– New National Fixed Fee for Police Station and changes to magistrates renumeration

– Promise of financial support for bids

– Lots of Tendering uncertainty

The National Law Society responded as follows to the cuts

Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson said:

‘The government’s changes will have a profound impact on our criminal legal aid members who face uncertainty and very difficult challenges in changing their businesses to meet the government’s new requirements.

‘We continue to oppose the cuts. We recognise that the government has listened to the views of the Law Society and our members and as a result made changes to mitigate their impact.’

The changes include:

  • The reinstatement of client choice.
  • Removal of price-competitive tendering.
  • The dropping of both a single fee irrespective of plea and plans for a single national fixed fee for police station attendance.
  • The ability for firms to submit joint bids so increasing the potential number of firms able to participate in the duty market.
  • Loan guarantees, underwritten by the government, to legal firms that need to invest to deliver new contracts.
  • Measures to ease cash flow in legal aid firms through interim payments for Crown court cases.
  • The offer of business partnering, business planning, accountancy and structural advice.
  • A commitment to commission and publish a review of the impact of these changes.
  • Reinstatement of payment for some ‘cracked’ trials in the Crown court.

Desmond Hudson continued:

“Our members’ response to today’s announcement will inform our thinking and will influence preparations for the coming implementation and contract bidding process. We will continue to press government in the coming weeks and months for further measures and to support practitioners through the implementation process.’

The Law Society will be studying the government’s decision and supporting evidence, including reports from KPMG and Otterburn, in detail over the coming days and looking at what further measures the Law Society can put in place to help criminal legal aid solicitors.

The Society will continue to consult its practitioner groups, committees and Council members to reach out to as many members as possible. The Law Society urges solicitors who are interested to contact their Council members. We will be issuing detailed support proposals in the coming weeks.

Ends

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