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Legal Aid: Price Competition Plan Scrapped

Legal Aid: Price Competition Plan Scrapped

The Government is to scrap plans to award legal aid contracts to the lowest bidder, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has said. The move, part of a controversial effort to cut the legal aid bill, comes after criticisms it would reduce justice to a “factory mentality”.

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Speaking to the Times, Mr Grayling said the move was part of a deal he had reached with the Law Society for England and Wales. Under the original plans, part of a raft of reforms to slash £350 million from the £2 billion annual legal aid bill, a process of price competitive tendering (PCT) would have seen firms secure legal aid contracts based on the low value of their bids. Labour MP Karl Turner warned that PCT for legal aid would allow big firms like G4S and Serco to dominate the legal aid market. But under the reform, law firms seeking a legal aid contract will be subject to certain criteria and sustainability – but price will not be a factor, the Times reported. However, other cuts to legal aid are still expected to go ahead, including slashing legal aid for prisoners, foreigners and the wealthy. Mr Grayling told The Times: “Not everyone will be happy because change is never welcome, when it is a tough change like this and with a big financial element. “But I hope the public will see (the package) as providing a sensible balance between saying ‘no’ to legal aid to people they really would not want to get it; and ensuring that anyone who is arrested and in a prison or police cell has access to a lawyer to defend them.”

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