The Tuesday Truth

Are we being scammed? (An illegal plan for making money, especially one that involves tricking people).

 

The LGFS and Court Appointees Consultation (closes 24th March)

 

It is abundantly clear that the purpose of the consultation is to effect “savings”. The summary, (B. Rationale and Policy objectives, is para 7.) says

“In the short term the policy objective is to return expenditure to 2013-14 levels, while ensuring that we pay fairly for work actually and reasonably done”

And (para 11) that the proposed cap of PPE at 6,000 pages is an “interim measure” pending agreement on changes to the LGFS scheme in order to immediately  reduce expenditure by about £30m further to restrict payment for appointed lawyers in s.38 cross examination in domestic violence cases to legal aid rates.

The entire short term proposal arises from a view that there is an upward trend in LGFS expenditure post the Cost Judges decision in Napper.

We do not believe that the figures establish that this is the case.

 

SPEND ANALYSIS IN £M

https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/legal-aid-statistics-july-to-september-2016

 

  Crime Lower   Crime Higher       Total
  Police Stations Magistrates Court AGFS LGFS VHCC    
Year              
2013/14   376 226 292 56   950
2015/16   285 226 341 26   878
2016/17   282 234 314 28   858

 

 

 

(2016/17 figures are a PROJECTION FROM FIRST 2 QUARTERS)

We also note that the numbers of VHCC contracts fell dramatically from 63 in 2008/9 to 28 (11/12), 20(12/13), 12(13/14), 3 (2014/15), 10(2015/26), and projection 2016/27 is 6. This is work decanted into the LGFS scheme and spend on Crime Higher was in fact as follows.

 

Year LGFS VHCC TOTAL
2013/14 292 56 348
2015/16 341 26 367
2016/17 314 28 342

 

(2016/17 Projected Figures)

That EXPENDITURE IS ALREADY AT 2013/14 level and the increase in 2015/16 was a “blip” and magnified by excluding a substantial fall in VHCC spend.

The threat is that if “capping” is not agreed together with the restriction of s.38 payment rates, then the MoJ may be “minded” to impose the still suspended 8.75% cut.

A more sensible approach would be to put all matters of remuneration on hold pending the outcome of the LASPO review due to report in March 2018.

The cynical may think that the government needed a quick cut to keep their budget ship on an even keel as they promised prison officers more, or perhaps as the figures were not continuing to rise for LGFS/VHCC they ought to get their retaliation in first. Whatever the backstory the “truce” established by Gove rests on an unstable cliff edge.

 

Greg Powell

LCCSA President

Greg Powell GregPowell@psplaw.co.uk
Managing Partner

Powell Spencer & Partners Solicitors
270 Kilburn High Road
London | NW6 2BY crime.dept@psplaw.cjsm.net

 

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