Fixed Fees and CLACs – MOJ plan

The Ministry of Justice has published its ‘Implementation Plan’ in response to the recommendations of the ‘Legal Advice at Local Level’ steering group. The plan is here [pdf]. The issue is principally the effects on NFP advice providers of the impact of fixed fee Legal help scheme and the introduction of CLACs and CLANs.

Notable are concerns that fixed fees don’t work for those dealing with particularly complex cases or difficult clients, with an action plan to consider varying the fixed fee scheme, and a study of potential pressures towards cherry-picking.

My jaw dropped at this, though:

We recommend that the LSC should take steps to monitor the impact of the establishment of a CLAC or a CLAN on other funding streams in the area, and should aim to involve other existing funders of local advice in plans for a CLAC or a CLAN wherever possible.
We recommend that the LSC monitors the impact of the establishment of CLACs on local advice providers, including the potential for future competition in the area.
Action
At the time that the Commission consulted on and published the CLS Strategy, an impact assessment was not carried out on the proposed policy to introduce CLACs and CLANs. LSC has agreed that in future a full equalities impact assessment should be carried out as part of the process of setting up a CLAC or CLAN. The EIA will be carried out at the same time as the needs analysis and will be subject to formal consultation. The outcome of this analysis will then inform the specification and performance standards for the service and again there will be consultation on that specification.

Part of the needs analysis and impact assessment will be to identify other funding streams that may be affected as part of the new service. This may be funding that is received by providers who also receive funding from the LSC and/or local authority or funding that is received by other providers. Having identified those other sources of funding, LSC will contact other funders to see what involvement, if any, they would like to have with the joint commissioning process.

So, let me get that straight. CLACS and CLANS as a policy were introduced without carrying out any impact assessment. No impact assessment on other funding streams or apparently on providers, including an Equalities Impact Assessment, has been carried out by the LSC in the setting up of any existing CLAC.

If this is truly the case, I am astonished there hasn’t been a challenge to the establishment of a CLAC or CLACS on that basis, but there we go…

About Giles Peaker

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts, and still is Nearly Legal on Google +.
Posted in Various (non-housing) and tagged , , .

2 Comments

  1. Good point about impact assessments from NL there but I think perhaps for housing lawyers the more remarkable recommendation is no 9 which is worth quoting verbatim:
    “Where a local authority has a good knowledge of local communities’ needs, and of existing advice provision, and uses this to shape the CLAC/N, this could meet many of the concerns expressed to us. It is not clear how much scope local authorities have felt they had (or wanted)to shape CLAC/Ns in this way. We recommend that action be taken to encourage and support local authorities in shaping local CLAC/Ns.”

    Legal aid housing lawyers do have occasional contact with local authorities and I’m sure they would not be at all interested in shaping us (destroying us maybe).

    I understand the pay in Ivory Tower land is pretty good though you do have to put up with everyone being served with redundancy notices just in case and you do have to spend all your time in meetings but the cakes are excellent. A lot of these types were spotted in Birmingham today!! Lots of very posh whistles. What were they doing there I wonder? Making up a new language I’ll warrant. Oh my God, I’m undergoing a step change so I’d better go now……

Leave a Reply (We can't offer advice on individual issues)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.