Appendix: Government response |
I am writing in response to the Committee's
report on Family Legal Aid Reform (Eighth Report of Session 2008-09)
published on Wednesday 15 July 2009.
You will recall in my initial response
to the Committee [
] that I expected to announce the way
ahead following our consultation on family legal aid reform ("Family
legal aid funding from 2010"), before recess. On 20 July,
I tabled a Written Ministerial Statement (Official Report, Column
WS156) which effectively announced that I had decided to delay
publication of final proposals to allow for further work on the
modelling of the schemes to be undertaken by my officials over
Whilst I do feel that it is right, in
principle, to proceed with a harmonised family advocacy scheme,
it is equally important to ensure that those models, and the assumptions
that underpin them are as accurate as possible. As you are aware,
the Legal Services Commission (LSC) continued to work closely
with the profession on the detail of the proposed family advocacy
scheme long after the consultation closed in April this year.
I believe that a good deal of progress has been made in recognising
and rewarding complexity in the revised scheme because of this.
The greater graduation now reflected in
the revised proposals required extensive remodelling of the schemes
by the LSC. For this reason, and in order to take proper account
of the points raised in the Committee's report, I decided that
further analysis was required. This way we can ensure, as far
as possible, that the modelling is sufficiently robust and will
give us a clear picture of how we can achieve harmonisation on
a cost neutral basis and still retain quality family law services
for children and other vulnerable clients.
The analysis work is still ongoing and
once I am satisfied with the results, I intend to announce my
decision on the final shape of the scheme. I do not intend to
undertake any further consultation before doing so, as I feel
we have allowed extensive opportunity for comments on and contribution
to the emerging structure of the scheme. I am grateful to the
Committee for its contribution to this process. As I have already
indicated, I believe that the final proposals will reflect many
of the concerns raised about these proposed reforms.
Once the analysis work is completed, I
will make a final decision on the way ahead, which will be made
public as soon as possible, through formal announcement. I will
then write to the Committee again, offering a fuller response
to its report on Family Legal Aid Reform.
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State
Ministry of Justice
14 September 2009