Law Society chief executive Des Hudson has written to the Legal Services Commission chief executive Carolyn Downs, asking that the implementation of the tender round in respect of Family be suspended 'pending an urgent but thorough and public evaluation of the result to ensure that access to justice is achieved'
You can read the letter sent on behalf of Family providers here:
The evaluation simply HAS to be urgent as the contracts expire in October and there is no provision for extending current contracts beyond that date. Civil Legal aid will end in October if nothing else replaces it. If they are not to implement the current tender round then they will have to find some 'quick and dirty' but fairer way of allocating new contracts for October. The ramifications of the latter are equally complex and far-reaching. This is turning out to be catastrophic. God knows what they are going to do as this late stage.
Having spent a modicum of time studying the LSC's methodology for allocating contracts in Family it was readily apparent that the carnage being reported (46% reductions etc) would be virtually certain to occur. The LSC's tender process was always going to result in such outcomes. The LSC failed to (a) understand the unintended consequences of its methodology and (b) failed to understand how private sector organisations operate when faced with competitive tender situations. I have spoken at length with LSC people prior to the tender announcements and it was abundantly clear that no one in the LSC had engaged their brain when predicting the outcomes.
I remain somewhat bemused by the Law Society's Johnny Come Lately foray into the battle. Surely some form of challenge should have been lodged much earlier into the process when the catastrophic outcomes were more than merely a possibility.
Post by Patrick Torsney on Aug 10, 2010 12:24:46 GMT
I really appreciate this post mainwaring, thank you. I thought I was the only one who believed it abundantly obvious that this is where we would be given the variables you rightly identify. I would add however, that many of the NfP sector acted in the same way to the private sector and this is why they will have most likely picked up large chunks SWL from private practice. I don't blame either sector however, it is inevitable when you create a situation of competition where your organisation's very survival is at stake. So, your point on methodology is most relevant
Yes "bemused" by the Law Society, that's one way of putting it! I have actually been posting similar comments elsewhere and suggesting (strongly) that at some point people need to ask themselves just what actual support and leadership they have been given by their rep bodies throughout this process. Where exactly were they before they jumped aboard the 'carnage' and 'mayhem' bandwagon after the results came out?
Post by worriedhousingsol on Aug 12, 2010 8:27:11 GMT
Unfortunately we are NfP and didn't get the SWL at all much to our shock and dismay. We too are in the position of deciding whether we are viable to remain open without it. The future is black at the moment and a final decision will be made in 2 weeks. I don't think either the LSC or LS understand the full implications of what is stood to be lost. We were awarded 2 contracts and without us there will be no provider in our area for either of those contracts. Unfortunately the 2 we did get are simply not enough to sustain us.
The provision in our area for housing has been cut from 4 providers to 1. The LSC clearly don't consider that there can be a conflict of interest in housing.
I hope any reprieve extends to the SWL category as well and wholly agree - it must be urgent
We have been doing housing debt and welfare benefits under contract for some time but we did not get a contract this time round either. The word is that Sh.... we all know who got all the matter starts for our procurement area. CA seems to be on holiday!
The Lawsoc's line that the results were 'unexpected' is a somewhat limp one. The outcome in Family contracts in particular was not unexpected by those of us preferring to look at the detailed tender methodology rather than be fobbed off by the LSC's promises that they weren't envisaging major changes to the supplier base. How much more powerful the Lawsoc's arguments would look if they were able to use the "We told you this would happen" argument.
Do we know if the LSC's figures for contracts (i.e the 46% reduction) relates to providers or offices? Many providers have multiple offices and a consequence of the tender methodology has been that whilst such firms may have secured a contract, many of them will have seen some of their branch offices lose contracts as they were competing with one another. If we are talking apples rather than pears then the true situation may be even worse. The LSC is overrun with spin doctors and I would not put it past them to put a gloss on things. Just a thought...
Post by Patrick Torsney on Aug 12, 2010 16:59:31 GMT
The Lawsoc's line that the results were 'unexpected' is a somewhat limp one.
Indeed, I think we've covered this one, although I think it will be too unpalatable to some to similarly raise or agree with such criticism concerns. I hope that there is some success regardless. After all, it's probably all any number of providers, private practice and nfp alike, have left now. Not least since the LSC announced that pretty much everything it has done will be kept in the broom cupboard, it being exempt (at least in its view) from FOIA requests
Apples and pears? Raspberries in nail varnish. It's a mess and many firms organisations and individuals, are counting the cost and will continue to do so
Post by StephenMichael on Aug 13, 2010 7:55:44 GMT
The whole thing has been a mess since the start.
The LSC took a gamble that the Law Society and NfP would be too scared to bite the hand that feeds them, and that gamble came off.
Those of us little people saw it coming and argued against the process from the outset at all the events and seminars the LSC spent all that money on (Glossy brochures, nice lunches, posh venues etc). However all the big providers chose not to listen to us and not to argue against the proposals.
Now we are paying the price.
Perhaps this sector will now take their blinkers off and vigorously argue against any future changes the Government wish to propose to cut legal aid to the most vunerable people in our society.
I remember a few years ago the government tried to cut funding to the medical profession but the GMC or whatever told them to get lost.
The legal profession needs to take a leaf out of their book!!