I can't see this has been started on another discussion so apologies if it has been.
The LSC has cut it's funding to all Specialist Support services from the end of March 2012. So that means CPAG, CITA, Shelter and LASA's etc Specialist Support is unlikely to be able to continue to provide their expert services to the voluntary sector. This is disatrous news for our Bureau, has anyone heard of any planned challenges to this LSC cut?
Post by Colin Henderson on Dec 20, 2011 14:07:31 GMT
Thanks for putting this up in this section lauren. It is a small but important erosion of the legal aid system and no I don't suppose there will be any challenge - I presume we're all supposed to be experts now.
CLS News 28/11/11 outlines request for expresions of interest - closed 12/12/11- for SWL extension April 2012 -March 2013 on the grounds the are required to maintain existing CLA specialist support until Legal Aid reforms come in- and they will do so by 1 year extension BUT other organistaions can express interest
And I'm afraid they are definitely ending in March: "Specialist Support contracts come to an end on 31 March 2012 and will not be renewed. They were designed to help first tier providers manage complex casework or new legal problems on an ongoing basis. But the LSC has improved access and assured the quality of providers through the 2010 tender process. All legal aid providers can now provide specialist advice, employ specialist supervisors and provide a high quality service." www.legalservices.gov.uk/civil/specialist_support.asp
Post by Colin Henderson on Mar 2, 2012 12:50:42 GMT
Good news! I was wrong and there WAS a challenge.
Having spotted that this decision was taken without consultation or objective assessment of the equal opportunity impact, the various specialist agencies quite rightly asked the Public Law Project represented by Leigh Day to issue JR proceedings.
Leigh Day who were involved in the JR have this on their website "LSC Drops Legal Challenge on Closure of Legal Advice Service 2 March 2012
The Legal Services Commission, the body that administers Legal Aid, has dropped its challenge to legal action against its decision to end an advice line that provides expert legal advice and guidance to organizations serving some of the most vulnerable members of society.
The Legal Services Commission announced suddenly in November 2011 that it was going to end the Specialist Support Provider Service, a little known but vital plank of legal aid in the UK.
Under the scheme, lawyers and advisors within Citizen’s Advice Bureaus, law centres and law firms across the country are able to obtain telephone advice from leading experts in key fields of law, which may fall outside their direct expertise. This enables legal advisors to provide continuity of advice, in a quick and cost efficient manner.
Clients benefit from the advice of experts through their local face-to-face advisors without having to be referred on to other lawyers or, in the worst cases, left without legal advice at all.
The Public Law Project, a national legal Charity specialising in public law and access to justice, who currently provide the Specialist Support Service in the field of public law, instructed law firm Leigh day & Co to challenge the decision to scrap the service without consultation.
The Public Law Project wrote to the Legal Services Commission questioning the decision to axe the service without consultation with providers and the users of the service.
The Legal Services Commission initially resisted the assertion that to cancel the service without consultation was unlawful. Leigh Day & Co issued judicial review proceedings in February 2012.
On March 1st when the its formal response to the claim was due to be filed at Court, the Legal Services Commission notified Leigh Day & Co that it would no longer fight the claim and would instead carry out a full and lawful consultation process as The Public Law Project had demanded.
The Legal Services Commission also confirmed that the current Specialist Support Provider contracts would be extended to enable providers to continue to give expert advice while the consultation is carried out............................."
I have just looked on the LSC website to try and respond to the consultation about this - ends May 11th and was (quietly/silently) started beginning of April. I couldn't find how to respond - could be me being stupid, or the LSC's website, which is never easy to navigate. Has anyone replied to the consultation, and if so how? I think it's really important to keep this service for as long as we are providing advice - so in spite of fatigue at responding to and fighting the cuts to our sector I want to do so. Can anyone point me in the right direction of how to please....