Quality in Legal Aid – SQM Outsourcing
What the consultation is about
The Legal Services Commission (LSC) intends to out-source the auditing of the Specialist Quality Mark (SQM) from September, 2010. These proposals are described in detail in their discussion paper “Quality in Legal Aid: SQM Outsourcing”.
What we said
We welcome the LSC’s continued commitment to quality in the delivery of publicly-funded services. We also welcome the recognition, in various recent publications, that advice services should be commissioned and delivered in ways which facilitate access particularly for vulnerable client groups. We would contend that nfp services have often been particularly successful in engaging vulnerable clients and those deemed “hard to reach”. Many of our members, for example, provide legal advice in the context of a range of services tailored to the needs of the communities or client groups they serve. Our principal concern with regard to the LSC’s new approach to quality assurance, considered together with the 2010 procurement strategy, is that it is likely to place nfp suppliers at a disadvantage compared with larger commercial organizations. We believe that the needs of legal aid clients and the perspectives of the nfp sector merit greater prominence within both the quality and procurement agendas and would welcome the opportunity to engage in further consultation on both matters.
Download our full response below.
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