The LSC has published some more information on the forthcoming face to face and telephone tenders.
The PQQs will open on 21st May and close at noon on 18th June. Anyone considering bidding should submit a PQQ. By doing so you are not bound to tender, but if you don’t you can’t. Organisations that pass the PQQ will receive an Invitation to Tender, with ITTs expected to open in September.
There is also more information on the revised categories following the scope changes in the Act:
- Debt: Covers mortgage possession of the home, orders for sale of the home, and involuntary bankruptcy (including dealing with a statutory demand) where the person’s estate includes their home.
- Discrimination: Civil legal services provided in relation to a contravention of the Equality Act 2010.
- Education (Special Educational Needs): Special educational needs matters arising under Part 4 of the Education Act 1996, and assessments relating to learning difficulties for young people under the Learning and Skills Act 2000
- Family: Public family law regarding protection of children; private family where there is evidence of domestic violence and private law children cases where there is evidence of child abuse. Also includes child abduction matters and representation for child parties in private family cases. Legal advice in support of mediation. Domestic violence injunction cases or forced marriage protection order cases.
- Housing: Covers possession of the home (other than mortgage possession), eviction from the home (including unlawful eviction); seeking repairs to rented accommodation where the disrepairs pose a serious risk of harm to health or safety; homelessness assistance for persons who are homeless or threatened with homelessness; injunctions under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 in the context of housing and ASBO matters in the county court.
- Immigration & Asylum:
- Immigration (Asylum) – similar to the current legal aid provision for clients seeking asylum.
- Immigration (non-Asylum) – for the purposes of the mainstream contract this work covers certain domestic violence applications, SIAC proceedings and certain immigration applications for leave to enter or remain in the UK by victims of human trafficking.
- Mediation: Mediation to resolve family law disputes.
This confirms the scope of the work (discrimination, education and debt) that will go through the mandatory telephone gateway. It makes clear that mortgage possession cases will be regarded as debt not housing and therefore anyone with a mortgage possession case will have to go through the gateway. This further reduces the work that will be in the scope of the housing face to face category. It seems to be a rather arbitrary distinction, no doubt to ensure that there is actually some debt work covered by the gateway.
On housing possession duty schemes, there is further confusion – having said previously that all contracts would be tendered, and last week that only new ones transferred over from DCLG would be, the LSC now say “additional and replacement” schemes will be tendered for.
Existing mediation contracts will continue, but the LSC is tendering for more to increase capacity.
There is as yet no information on the volumes of work expected to be available, or the details of how the ITTs will be dealt with, or the detailed funding arrangements for cases under the new scheme.
Separately, the LSC have also published the Standard Terms for the new contracts. These are the final versions, there having already been a consultation process with representative bodies. There is also a dedicated page for 2013 contracts and you should monitor that regularly for updates.