17 July 2006 | Paul Snell
Changes to the procurement of legal aid should result in better control and more accurate budgeting, according to a government report.
Legal aid: a market-based approach to reform, by Lord Carter, found potential efficiency savings of £100 million across the legal aid budget. The system currently costs the government around £2 billion a year.
The report sets out 62 recommendations for changes to procurement. Some build on proposals included in Lord Carter's interim study, which included fixed pricing being applied to all criminal legal aid work for police stations and magistrates and crown courts.
This final report suggests that from April 2009, legal aid suppliers should compete for work under a "best value tendering" process. This means suppliers will be judged on quality of service, capacity to deliver sufficient quantity of service and the most efficient price. Only firms who meet this "quality threshold" will be allowed to tender for work.
The consultation document, produced by the Legal Services Commission and Department for Constitutional Affairs, is available at: www.legalservices.gov.uk
Views from legal professionals should be sent to email@example.com with the subject title "consultation response" before 12 October.