Crime Duty Contracts: Bobbing for Apples in Austerity’s Bucket

At the heart of the MoJ plan to leverage a consolidation of the ‘market’ in criminal defence is the justification of ‘pressure on public finances’ and ‘gives the financial crisis inherited by this Government, no choice but to make significant savings’.

Recently it was reported that the NHS expenditure on external consultants has soared from £313 million in 2010 to £640 million. The difference is more than the £200 million ‘saving’ target in the legal aid budget; the total sum is very approximate to the net amount spent on either civil or criminal legal aid for the whole of England and Wales per annum.

Meanwhile this gem of illogic from the Response: “In relation to Otterburn’s finding that providers required a 5% profit margin, according to Otterburn’s own survey nearly half of the market is currently operating on less than 5%, when looking at crime profitability. This suggests that whilst providers would like a minimum profitability of more than 5%, in reality this does not always happen”.

So half the market is operating below 5% BEFORE a 17.5% cut in revenue but the above paragraph is set out as some kind of justification that the Otterburn analysis can be ignored.

The scale of cost reduction is ideological not economical but does serve the purpose of making Government ever less accountable. Meanwhile the most complicated tendering since VHCC (remember the millions of pieces of paper, in thousands of boxes debacle) has been visited upon us which has the character of a riddle wrapped in an enigma and dropped in ‘a bucket of shit; its like bobbing for apples in a sewer.’






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