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Legal Aid: Voluntary Organisations

Volume 477: debated on Thursday 19 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what assessment his Department has made of the effects of fixed fees for legal aid on the funding of voluntary sector organisations providing legal advice. (211593)

Fixed fee schemes were calculated on the basis of historic spend by both solicitor firms and not for profit (NfP) agencies and no money has been removed from the overall civil legal aid budget.

The Legal Services Commission (LSC) undertook a full regulatory impact assessment (RIA) of the effect of the introduction of fixed fees. The final RIA is available on their website

Transitional arrangements have been introduced to assist NfP providers to adjust to recent reforms. The LSC regularly monitors the operation of these arrangements. The great majority of NfP providers are adapting well to fixed fees.

The LSC will be reviewing the operation of the first stage of graduated and fixed fees (implemented in October 2007 and January 2008) to see if any changes should be made to those existing schemes for April 2010. It intends to publish the outcome of that review in January 2009, with a further six-week consultation on any changes to be made to the stage 1 fees as a result. Any such changes would take effect in the new contracts from 1 April 2010.