Specialist support service contracts, allowing contract holders to provide expert consultancy across civil and social welfare law, were reprieved today when the LSC conceded a judicial review action brought by the Public Law Project.
Contracts were due to expire at the end of March 2012, and the LSC informed the providers in December that they did not intend to extend the contracts (which they had the power to do) or to re-tender them. Instead they proposed to abolish the specialist support service. There was no consultation, either with the providers of the service, its users or the wider public.
The Public Law Project, represented by Leigh Day & Co and with the support of all the other specialist support providers, issued judicial review proceedings earlier this month challenging the decision to end the scheme without proper consultation and without a full equality impact assessment.
Today, even before permission stage, the LSC conceded the claim, withdrew its decision to end the service and confirmed that there will be a full consultation on the future of the service in March. In the meantime, existing contracts will be extended to 30th June 2012.
Therefore the specialist support service has been, temporarily at least, reprieved pending a review of its future. Contact details for each of the providers are below. All are open Monday to Friday between 10am and 4pm and will continue to be so until at least 30th June 2012.
- Community Care – Public Law Solicitors, 0845 140 5006
- Debt – Citizens Advice, 0808 808 2575
- Employment – Citizens Advice, 0808 808 3681
- Housing – Shelter, 0844 515 2113 (England), Shelter Cymru 0845 602 3449 (Wales)
- Immigration – Wilson Solicitors, 0845 677 2205
- Mental Health – Scott Moncrieff, 0844 800 3364
- Public Law – The Public Law Project, 0808 808 4546
- Welfare Benefits - Child Poverty Action Group, 0845 612 8007 (England), LASA, 0845 271 3230 (Wales)