The government spent more than £400,000 on the failed duty scheme tender with more than half going to agency staff, according to a freedom of information request made by the Law Society’s Gazette.
According to the Gazette (here), between 27 November 2014 and 28 January 2016, external legal fees associated with the drafting of contracts cost £13,565; separately, ‘legal support on the procurement and assessment process’ cost another £125,933; but by far the greatest sum went on agency staff who incurred a cost of £271,574.
Last November, Paul Staples, a bid assessor with 20 years’ experience of public procurement process, told LegalVoice that in his view the tender was ‘shambolic and unprofessional’. ‘There was very little concern for quality. I would go so far as to say quality wasn’t even part of the equation,’ Staples said. The LAA recruited Brook Street temporary staff agency on around £9.30 an hour with no knowledge of legal aid or experience of public sector procurement. Staples revealed that he had less than an hour’s training before he began assessing bids and received no training at all for his role as a moderator.
The Gazette also asked how much the Ministry of Justice had spent defending challenges but the MoJ said such information was ‘exempt from disclosure’ on the grounds that its release might ‘prejudice both the administration of justice as well as the department’s commercial interests’.
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