'False' savings from legal aid cuts
Tuesday 10 January 2012
Radical proposals to curtail legal aid are based on false economy and should be halted until all the unintended consequences are properly calculated, a new report by King's College London (KCL) warns.
Almost 60 per cent of the savings predicted by the Ministry of Justice will simply shift to other government departments, weighing particularly heavy on the coffers of health, business and the Treasury, according to the report commissioned by the Law Society. The MoJ expects to save £239m a year by slashing legal aid in family law, social welfare and clinical negligence cases. But this would trigger knock-on departmental costs worth £139m as courts fill-up with people trying to represent themselves or else turn to state-subsidised mediation.
The report comes as the House of Lords resumes debate of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill which the MoJ hopes will help it make annual savings of £2bn by 2015. It will boost claims by a growing number of cross-party peers proposing an amendment, to be voted on tonight, which supports delaying the reforms until the Government carries out a comprehensive assessment of the wider, unintended costs to the taxpayer.
The exclusion of clinical negligence from legal aid, which is most widely opposed, would cost the NHS three times more than the MoJ would save, as trusts take out expensive insurance policies instead. The expected net loss, calculated by KCL as £18million, excludes the substantial costs linked to individual cases, which could see more reliance on emergency NHS and social services and longer periods off work.
Dr Graham Cookson, report author from the KCL Department of Management, said: "My call, which echoes the Justice Select Committee, is for the MoJ to publish a detailed account of the true impact of the Bill before it is enacted. It is then up to Parliament to decide what to do. My analysis shows the proposed changes are based on false economy and will actually cause problems."
The legal aid tab was £2.1bn in 2009/10; just less than half was spent on civil and family cases and those seeking compensation for NHS mistakes. The MoJ wants to cut the bill by almost a quarter, affecting around 600,000 people a year, as the system is no longer affordable.
But assertions about a compensation culture are wrong as civil legal aid costs fell over the past decade, argues the Law Society. Its Chief Executive, Desmond Hudson, said: "The concepts of fairness and justice and access to justice are not going to be the same if this Bill is passed."
Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'
- 1 Marijuana use by teenagers does not result in a lower IQ or worse exam results, study finds
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 NHS staff banned from drinking tea or coffee on the job because it looks like they're not working hard enough
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a more fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Kim Jong-un 'purge': Six North Korea officials missing for weeks 'may have been executed'
Diwali: What is the festival of lights – and how is it celebrated around the world?
Nathan Cirillo: Final pictures emerge of soldier moments before he was shot dead by Ottowa gunman
Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes too far at the Q Awards
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...
£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...
£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...
£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...