The Ministry of Justice has announced the introduction of criminal legal aid funding cuts, which comes as bad news for legal aid practitioners.
Minister for Justice, Chris Grayling, intends to reduce the number of criminal legal aid firms practising in England and Wales by over two thirds, from 1600 to 525 under the Legal Aid Agency’s Price-Competitive Tendering process.
The PQQ is set to be released in April with a deadline estimated to fall in May. The tender will then be released to successful firms, who will have until September to complete the submission.
The introduction of a two-tier contracting model will allow firms to tender for an unlimited number of contracts for own client work. 525 contracts for duty work will be awarded and allocated based on quality and a ‘capability to operate in this more challenging market’. It is hoped that these changes will results in savings of £220 million by 2018/2019.
The Law Society has claimed that the reforms are ‘both an opportunity and a challenge.’ Firms will have the chance to win more work than they currently deliver, but the tender process will be incredibly difficult.
Legal professionals have suggested that firms will be forced to enter into a joint venture with another company in order to meet the requirements of the specification. To do this is both extremely complicated and time consuming and does not pose a viable solution with such a short timescale.
Small firms will struggle
The issue with the tendering of legal aid lies in the scope of the tender requirements. Large firms who have experience in the procurement process will be very successful, but smaller firms will struggle to succeed.
As the UK’s leading bid management and writing company we can help firms secure the contracts they need. We offer a number of services to suit the requirements of each company we work with.
We can provide full PQQ and tender writing services, or for firms wishing to complete the submission in-house we offer training and review services tailored to your business.