Breaking News

Hot on the heels of the Carter review comes the long anticipated Preferred Supplier Scheme. The consultation is launched today.
On a first read the three key factors that stand out are:
It will become exclusive (by 2009)
It will have “significantly higher up-front entry criteria”
Will rely upon and expand remote performance management

All in all pretty much what we have been predicting for some time now.
At time of writing we are looking at piggybacking some briefings on the mornings of the Peer Review training tour. Keep in touch.
More detail to follow once we’ve read it all.
Quick of the mark as ever the LAPGs initial thoughts are below.

The Legal Aid Practitioners Group today welcomed the publication of the
long-awaited consultation paper on the roll-out of the preferred
supplier scheme.
Director Richard Miller said, “LAPG has long believed that the preferred
supplier scheme provides the basis for a much-improved relationship
between the LSC and firms, which will benefit clients, the profession
and the LSC alike.”
However, the Group was disappointed that much of the detail of the
scheme is omitted pending the publication of Lord Carter’s final report.
“Issues such as how value for money is to be assessed will be crucial in
developing a workable scheme. This paper leaves us none the wiser as to
what the criteria will be. While we understand why this has been done,
it is nonetheless disappointing.”
The Group is also concerned about the balance between quality and cost.
Chairman Roy Morgan said, “The LSC would like all firms to achieve at
least level 2 on peer review: competence plus. So would I. The reality,
however, is that many firms are assessed only at threshold competence,
and do not feel that current remuneration levels enable them to make the
investment necessary to achieve a higher standard. Excluding these
firms, which are at least competent even if not ideal, would create even
worse advice deserts than we currently have. The quality of work cannot
be considered in isolation from the rates paid for it.”
Miller also expressed concerns about how quickly the LSC can reasonably
complete the roll-out of the scheme. “Had the preferred supplier scheme
been rolled out last April as originally proposed, then it might just
have been achievable to complete its introduction by 2009. Given that we
will not have the final detail of the scheme before this summer, and
given that there are approximately 5,000 firms at present, the LSC would
have to complete the assessment of 33 firms every single week if they
were all to apply. The experience of assessing the 25 pilot firms
demonstrates how difficult a task it is. The Commission must set out a
more realistic timeframe for this work.”
But overall, the Group welcomed the proposals. Morgan said, “A
light-touch audit system with firms the LSC is willing to trust has to
be the way forward. We are delighted that the Commission agrees, and
look forward to working together on the detail of the assessment
LAPG is an independent grass roots movement, representing around 700
firms at the heart of the provision of publicly funded legal services.

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