The LSC launched a 12-week consultation on its proposals for a national Preferred Supplier Scheme on 20 March 2006. The consultation will close on 12 June 2006.
The consultation paper is available from the consultation pages of our website. All organisations holding a current legal aid contract will also receive a copy by mail.
The press release announcing the consultation launch can be also downloaded from the press releases page on this site.
The paper outlines our proposals and gives some details of the proposed scheme. The scheme will not be finalised until after we have had the opportunity to analyse the consultation responses. A final scheme will be published later this year.
The key proposals outlined in the Preferred Supplier scheme consultation document are:
- to change the way the LSC buys legal aid services so that only Preferred Suppliers will have a legal aid contract by the time the implementation of the Carter reforms are likely to be completed (expected to be during 2009)
- to give Preferred Suppliers a greater and potentially increasing range of devolved decision-making powers, and to significantly speed up LSC decision-making on non-devolved decisions (primarily those involving high cost cases)
- to simplify billing and claiming processes for Preferred Suppliers and to reduce transaction costs on both sides as a result
- to significantly reduce inspection and auditing of Preferred Suppliers and instead use risk-based, largely remote, performance management tools as well as encouraging providers to take greater responsibility for managing their own performance
- to base Preferred Supplier membership on significantly higher up-front entry criteria. Preferred Suppliers will need to demonstrate: a high quality of legal advice as measured by Peer Review and File Assessment; a good history of compliance with existing legal aid requirements; value for money, and; a soundly financed and sustainable business
- to forge a new relationship - based on genuine partnership - with providers of legal aid services and to give the lead responsibility for managing this partnership to an LSC Relationship Manager. Their role will be to work closely with each Preferred Supplier to identify improved ways of working and provide better information to help them plan their future and develop their legal aid businesses
- to award Preferred Supplier status to organisations or firms - not individual offices
- to specify that e-business is used for all transactions between the LSC and Preferred Suppliers
A series of consultation events for current legal aid providers are being held in each region around the country, as well as Wales, throughout the consultation period.
This is your opportunity to hear from the LSC's Executive Team and the Preferred Supplier project team about the proposals. You will also be able to give your feedback on the proposals and ask questions.
Each event will include:
- the context and vision for a Preferred Supplier scheme - including the role the scheme will play in Lord Carter's legal aid reforms
- an overview of the benefits of joining the scheme - including having a Relationship Manager
meeting the criteria to be a Preferred Supplier - about the different assessment methods, including Peer Review and how you can improve your rating
- next steps - including the timetable for implementation and upcoming Peer Review workshops
- time for questions and answers