Wearing Blinkers

I have said for some time that government – now of all 3 major parties – is ideologically blinkered about public sector procurement. You really do not have to look much further than the fiasco of court interpretation services, now in the “capable hands” of Capita.

The imagined savings of this nonsensical project must surely be wiped out by regular occurrences of this sort – that is before you begin to count the more important human cost.

Committment to this approach extends beyond the pragmatic and rational.

We know more about this than most.

The architecture of the civil scheme, Legal Help New Matter Start “auctions”, remains in place despite the basis for this, convoluted needs mapping, having long ceased. More importantly the scope of such work, post LASPO, is so limited as to make the whole bidding process utterly disproportionate. We today have the spectacle of long established firms, running out of NMS in January and being told by the LAA to send their longstanding clients elsewhere. The MoJ/LAA’s desired larger, more efficient firms therefore standing idle for 2 months whilst vulnerable clients are frog-marched to firms they neither know nor want.

In Crime this involves a third attempt to force some form of competitive tendering on contract distribution – this sits awaiting legal judgment. Practitioner’s adjudication was handed down long ago, that’s right, not positive.

None of these approaches to the control of supply will have any impact upon demand. They might however create barriers to accessing justice, thus occasioning savings. It is not clear if this consequence was foreseen or not by the policy makers, though they seem at least complacent to it.

Whatever, the same number of clients will require the same amount of legal aid and there are much easier ways to make sure that they can get it.

About Author: SP

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