In among all the amendments to the Unified Contract for family work – of which more later this week – there is a small but significant amendment to the housing specification. It only affects firms operating under housing and family contracts, but brings them into line with social welfare housing providers working under the Standard Contract.
The contract notice is here and the amendments to the specification are here. They provide that experts can not charge a cancellation fee where given more than 72 hours notice, can not charge a separate “administration fee” and are capped to £40 an hour and 45p a mile for travelling (new paras 15.12 and 15.13). There have been equivalent provisions – for all categories – in the Standard Contract since last year; they can be found in paras 4.24 and 4.27 of the specification.
The same provisions are being introduced to the family specification, by new paras 10.169 and 10.170.
There are currently no other formal caps on experts fees beyond reasonableness, though the LSC has guideline rates it has not made public it uses when considering applications for prior authority. There have been many proposals for standardising experts fees in the last few years, most recently in last year’s government green paper, but none have yet been implemented.