The budget and structure of the Ministry of Justice - Justice Committee Contents

1  Introduction

The Committee's inquiry

1.  On 21 July 2011 we announced a high level inquiry looking at the overall structure and budget of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and its associated public bodies. The inquiry has focused on the potential contribution of further structural changes to future efficiency savings and improved performance.

2.  Our terms of reference raised a number of questions to be addressed throughout the inquiry:

  • What should the core objectives be of the MoJ?
  • Which functions provided by the MoJ are essential, and which could be best provided by others or not at all?
  • Does the MoJ have sufficient understanding of costs to enable it to model the impact of future changes?
  • What changes to the current structure of the MoJ could contribute to improved performance or efficiency savings?
  • Does the MoJ have the right processes and measures in place to manage robustly the organisations it sponsors?
  • Will the transition of the administration of legal aid from the Legal Services Commission to an executive agency within the MoJ lead to more effective and efficient performance?
  • Does the relationship between the MoJ and NOMS, and the relationship between prison and probation, contribute to effective and efficient working?
  • How effectively does the MoJ use IT, and does the MoJ have the right balance between centrally and locally commissioned IT?
  • Does the MoJ have procedures in place in order to realise its objective of having more services delivered by the voluntary and community and private sectors?
  • Does the MoJ have the necessary skills to ensure value for money contracts for the public purse and to manage effectively those contracts?

3.  We received 23 written submissions from witnesses with close associations to the MoJ, and held oral evidence sessions with 13 panels of witnesses listed at the end of this Report. We visited the MoJ headquarters at 102 Petty France, and the headquarters of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) at Clive House, Petty France, where we were given free access to all areas and were able to discuss the work of the Department at every level. In addition we received a presentation from the Legal Services Commission (LSC) at its headquarters. Furthermore, during a visit to Denmark and Norway in April, which focused on our current inquiry into Youth Justice, we also took the opportunity to discuss elements of this inquiry with officials from their justice ministries. We also commissioned a report by the National Audit Office on international comparisons of criminal justice systems which helped inform our work. We would like to thank Jo James, the Specialist Advisor appointed to assist us with the inquiry. We are grateful to all those who took the time to contribute to our inquiry.



4.  In March 2007 a major machinery of government change was announced with the objective of allowing the Home Office to concentrate on its responsibilities in relation to counter-terrorism, policing, and asylum and immigration. Furthermore, a new Ministry of Justice (MoJ) was created to take on the responsibilities of the Department for Constitutional Affairs (DCA) and the criminal justice functions of the Home Office and its agencies — of which the largest was NOMS. The new MoJ would have responsibility for constitutional matters, civil and administrative justice, the courts and legal aid, and also become the lead department for criminal justice policy and as such would 'house' the Office for Criminal Justice Reform. It would be led by the Lord Chancellor as Secretary of State for Justice.[1] The MoJ was formed on 9 May 2007.

5.  Whereas the previous Home Office/DCA boundary ran between all 'law and order' activities on the one hand and the courts on the other, the new boundary line lay between activities leading up to arrest (on the Home Office side) and the subsequent courts and sentence-related activities (run by the MoJ).[2] Deciding charges and prosecuting defendants continued to be the responsibility of the Crown Prosecution Service, overseen by the Attorney General's Office. A Cabinet Office document[3] that accompanied the Prime Minister's announcement stated the MoJ's key objectives would be to:

  • Protect the public from dangerous offenders
  • Reduce re-offending through common sense custodial and non-custodial penalties
  • Provide access to justice for all, especially the most vulnerable
  • Uphold people's rights
  • Deliver democracy and constitutional reform

6.  We agree with the objectives set out at the formation of the Ministry of Justice, and believe there are benefits in having a separate Ministry of Justice dedicated to achieving them. We welcome the emphasis the Department places on re-offending, but believe the Department still has structures in place which do not assist in achieving that objective.

7.  The Ministry is one of the largest Government departments, employing around 76,000 people, with a budget of approximately £9 billion,[4] and is administered from a small central core. In 2010-11, nearly half the MoJ's expenditure and 74% of its work force was accounted for by NOMS,[5] with 43,000 posts held by the Prison Service.[6] It is currently organised into four main business groups: Justice Policy, HM Courts and Tribunals Service, the National Offender Management Service and Corporate Performance (which provides professional services and administrative support).[7]

8.  The MoJ devolves the delivery of most of its aims to a number of smaller bodies. The Committee of Public Accounts reported in January 2011 that the MoJ sponsored 53 Arm's Length Bodies, or some 350 organisations when accounting for sub-bodies.[8] The Department is reliant upon its Non-Departmental Public Bodies and Executive Agencies to deliver its functions, but these bodies are subject to differing levels of control from central MoJ.

9.  The Department's largest spending Arm's Length Bodies in 2010-11 were:

  • Executive Agencies (EAs):
    • National Offender Management Service (NOMS) - £4,180m
    • HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) - £1,186m
  • Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs):
    • Legal Services Commission (LSC) - £2,210m[9]
    • Youth Justice Board (YJB) - £425m
    • Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) - £327m

Additionally, there were 6 NDPBs that performed important functions, but spent far less in a year, typically between £5-10 million: These were: The Parole Board; The Office for Legal Complaints; The Information Commissioner's Office; The Criminal Cases Review Commission; The Judicial Appointments Commission; and the Legal Services Board.

10.  Comments by the then Secretary of State for Justice, Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, in the foreword of a series of corporate reports gave an indication of how the new Department established itself following the reorganisation:

May 2008 - "Shortly after the creation of the MoJ, an in-depth review was commissioned to ensure the Department's structure created the right conditions to deliver its wide agenda".[10]

Dec 2008 - "In our first year, we focused on the organisational changes needed to bring together several different organisation to form an 80,000 whole".[11]

Jan 2009 - "The MoJ is, however, still a young department and there are many more opportunities we are yet to grasp".[12]

Dec 2009 - "In a short space of time it has I believe established itself as one of the major Departments of State, unique in its breadth and influence".[13]


11.  In addition to providing a civil and family justice system, the MoJ works to protect the public and reduce reoffending, and to provide a more effective, transparent and responsive criminal justice system for victims and the public.[14] Under the current constitution and structure of government, there can be no single "owner" for the criminal justice system:

  • The MoJ is responsible for providing a range of services (including courts, prisons, youth justice services and probation) that are focused on providing access to justice and punishing and rehabilitating offenders.
  • The Home Office is responsible for enabling the police and local communities to tackle crime and antisocial behaviour.
  • The Attorney General's Office has responsibility for superintending the independent prosecuting departments, the Crown Prosecution Service, and the Serious Fraud Office.
  • The judiciary, which constitutionally is the third arm of the state, is independent of both the legislature and the executive. Independence is important so that judges can discharge their responsibility to be fair and impartial - including protecting citizens against any unlawful acts of government.[15]


12.  In 2010-11 the MoJ spent £9.3 billion, of which 90% was spent through its main sponsored bodies on its core justice responsibilities. The central Ministry spent £565 million on its own administration.[16]

13.  Between the formation of the MoJ in 2007 and the publication of its 2010-11 accounts, it had significantly reduced its budget by £878 million.[17] This has been achieved through reductions made across business areas by the following amounts:

Table 1: Budgetary reductions by business area, 2007-March 2011
National Offender Management Service c£330m
HM Courts and Tribunals Service[18] c£160m
Legal Services Commission c£240m
Policy & Corporate Centre c£150m

Data Source: Ev 131

14.  In the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR), the Ministry was subject to a cut of 23% in its resource budget by 2014-15. It has to find savings over the CSR period, rising from around £500 million in the first year to £1.7 billion in the final year.[19] To achieve this the MoJ has planned to deliver over £1billion of annual efficiency savings, whilst protecting front line functions.[20]

15.  The Department's budget requirement has also been affected by a number of machinery of government changes. The most significant of these is the movement of the Constitution Directorate to the Cabinet Office in June 2010. This amounted to a £10 million reduction in the Department's budget, and will mean that the cost of elections is no longer provided through the Department's allocation.[21]

16.  In the introduction to the Department's 2010-11 Annual Report and Accounts, Sir Suma Chakrabarti KCB, the then Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, stated:

Our very tight financial settlement has made it a challenging year, we have worked to make efficiencies and target our resources where they are most needed. We've streamlined the business and worked hard to cut out unnecessary overheads and non-essential projects, whilst working to continually improve the service we provide to the public.[22]


17.  In February 2009, the then Permanent Secretary decided that the new Department would embark on major change aimed at achieving a better justice system at less cost to the public. This decision was, in part, based on a clear realisation that the fiscal situation would have consequences on the forthcoming Departmental budget.[23] This change was branded the Transforming Justice programme, and encapsulated a number of activities which aimed to meet this goal.[24]

18.  Within Whitehall, long-term planning was usually conducted in the pre-election period and had generally been conducted privately: typically, with just a handful of policy staff being involved, and prone to taking a 'wait and see' approach.[25] The Permanent Secretary was convinced that 'business as usual' would not deliver the Department's long-term goals, and thus the MoJ opted to adopt a collaborative approach to develop the vision and strategy for Transforming Justice in order to build a strong coalition for change.[26]

19.  When Transforming Justice started, no one in the Department knew the full extent of the change activity taking place across the Ministry. In February 2010 a 'Change Audit' was carried out by the Transforming Justice office in the MoJ, which found 197 change programmes and policy initiatives within the Department, some of which lacked solid business cases for continuation. Since then all major Departmental change activities have been subsumed under the Transforming Justice brand.[27]

20.  At its inception, Jonathan Slater was appointed as a dedicated Director General of Transformation, whilst the Institute for Government (IfG) was invited to evaluate future changes. The ten provisional Transforming Justice Programmes were as follows:Table 2: Ten provisional Transforming Justice Programmes
Transforming Justice Programmes at February 2010

Frontline services

1. Incentivising Local Delivery (PVP): adjusting the incentives of local agencies to reduce reoffending

2. Diversion into alternative civil and family justice services (PVP): Developing options for alternative methods of dispute resolution

3. New responses to crime: Developing alternative sentencing options

4. A better CJS for the public (PVP): improving effectiveness and efficiency of case management (from arrest and sentence)

Back office services

5. Shared services (OEP)*: Sharing NOMS back office services with courts and other MoJ organisations

6. Estates (OEP)*: Consolidating the estate in London and the regions

7. New operating model: Developing option for new MoJ operating models (structures accountabilities processes etc. (expanded from initial focus on SCS downsizing in March 2010)

Enabling transformation

8. Public engagement: Developing options to build public trust and public action to improve justice

9. Management Information: improving data quality and information flows across MoJ organisations*

10. Engaging our people: building staff engagement across MoJ headquarters and executive agencies

Key: * denotes a pre-existing programme; (PVP) = aligned to MoJ's work supporting Government's Public Value Programme; (OEP) = aligned to MoJ's work supporting Government's Operational Efficiency Programme

Note: short descriptions are Institute for Government summaries

Data Source: Page 15, Transformation in the Ministry of Justice: 2010 interim evaluation report, Institute for Government

1   Constitutional Affairs Committee, Sixth Report of Session 2006-07, The Creation of the Ministry of Justice, HC 466, para 1 Back

2   Institute for Government and London School of Economics, Making and breaking Whitehall Departments: A guide to machinery of government changes, 12 May 2010 Back

3   Cabinet Office, Machinery of Government: Security and Counter-Terrorism, and the Criminal Justice System, March 2007 Back

4   About the Ministry of Justice, Back

5   National Audit Office, Financial Management Report 2011, HC 1591 Back

6   As at 31 January 2012. HC Deb, 23 April 2012, c673-82W Back

7   National Audit Office, A summary of the NAO's work on the Ministry of Justice 2010-11, September 2011 Back

8   Committee of Public Accounts, Sixteenth Report of Session 2010-12, Ministry of Justice Financial Management, HC 574, pp 3-4 Back

9  The LSC is due to be replaced in 2013 by a new agency. Back

10   Ministry of Justice, Departmental Annual Report 2007-2008, Foreword Back

11   Ministry of Justice, Autumn Performance Report 2008, Foreword Back

12   Ministry of Justice, Corporate Plan 2009-11, Foreword Back

13   Ministry of Justice, Autumn Performance Report 2009, Foreword Back

14   About the Ministry of Justice, Back

15   National Audit Office, Criminal Justice System Landscape Review, November 2010, Paras 1.2-1.3,  Back

16   National Audit Office, A summary of the NAO's work on the Ministry of Justice 2010-11, September 2011 Back

17   Ev 105 Back

18   Part of the savings attributed to HMCTS is due to the merger of HM Courts Service and the Tribunals Service Back

19   National Audit Office, A summary of the NAO's work on the Ministry of Justice 2010-11, September 2011 Back

20   Ev 131 Back

21   Ibid. Back

22   Ministry of Justice, Annual Report and Accounts 2010-11, p 5 Back

23   Q 2 Back

24   Institute for Government, Transformation in the Ministry of Justice: 2010 interim evaluation report, June 2010, p 6 Back

25   Institute for Government, Transformation in the Ministry of Justice: 2010 interim evaluation report, June 2010, p 14, 25 Back

26   Ibid. pp 24-25 Back

27   Ibid. pp 48 Back

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© Parliamentary copyright 2012
Prepared 18 August 2012