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LSC Tendering

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I have recently sent this open letter to a number of people.

Dear Sir,

I write to voice my concern over the introduction of best value tendering (BVT) for criminal legal aid contracts. In fact to be clear, my concerns are focused on the general approach of the LSC to the tendering process.

 At a recent seminar held in Birmingham on 26 June Hugh Barrett from the LSC in responding to questions admitted the fact that costs savings were the main motive for BVT. This I believe is the first time that the LSC had conceded this point in discussions with practitioners. What I remain unclear about is what these cost savings actually are and how they will affect the future of this work.                              

I think we have to accept that all organisations are looking for cost efficiencies and I do not see why the LSC should be exempt from that process. However, cost cutting has to be undertaken with some strategic thought process and as part of that process; the question should be asked how do our suppliers, lawyers, continue to make money from providing this service on our behalf?

I see no evidence of that question being asked. The concept of BVT may raise concerns amongst some but I do not think that is the issue. The issue here is, how do we formulate our response to this tender process with the uncertainties created by the LSC? We need to be able to plan for the provision of these services for years to come not just in the short term. We can reduce our overhead and the cost of delivery if we are able to provide services, and I accept they have to be done locally over a large area if we can still leverage the savings of scale. Being asked to bid for a number of areas on a single basis and with a restriction as to the market share we can obtain precludes a model of scalability and I would therefore argue, of sustainability.

Yes we understand the need to drive down cost, we understand the political interference the LSC suffers and we do believe in the concept of access to justice. But, if we cannot make money in providing that service, how many people will be left to provide it and to what quality?                

We are one of the larger suppliers in the West Midlands and are looking to expand.  Should we not be encouraged to stay in this market place planning for a future rather than persuaded to focus resources elsewhere because of the uncertainty created by this tendering process?

We all have a stake in these proposals. I hope that solicitors working in the whole range of sectors unaffected by the BVT proposals will understand how important this issue is to them and offer us their support in efforts to stop the government making a major mistake that could have permanent detrimental consequences on the administration of justice.

Yours sincerely,

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Written by Andrew Hodges

July 17, 2009 at 10:56 am

Posted in Comment, New Law

Tagged with , , , , ,

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