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CBA Response to the Treasury’s Spending Review 05.09.19

Let’s get serious: we need greater change from far more bobbies on the beat than even the extra numbers already promised and reconfirmed by the spending review, who can properly investigate and charge all the crimes the public reports to them, right through to proper funding to ensure crimes are prosecuted and  courts can be open so trials aren’t delayed.

The spending review promises a 5% real terms increase in resources budget for the Ministry of Justice but that only kicks in from April 2020 and the public is in danger of being duped. Justice itself is still being short-changed. The public must not feel mugged as Treasury’s promise of a single digit percentage increase – a small extra slice – is sized on a much smaller cake after a near decade of relentless MOJ cuts.

MoJ current spending will increase from £7.6 billion in 2019/20 to £8.1 billion and capital spending from £460 million to £620 million.

The latest 5% real terms increase should only be seen as a glance towards a first step taken towards a sustained, seismic reversal of the continuous cuts to the MOJ budget over the past decade. Without much much more required the picture of empty courts, amid rising levels of reported crime, will only deepen.

Meanwhile the MOJ has yet even to complete its own review – due by the end of November – into criminal barrister defence fees covered by legal aid.

AGFS (Advocates Graduated Fee Scheme) must see proposals to deal with the most acute problems (flat brief fees, cracks and remuneration for unused material) in November.  It follows that this must involve significant investment of new money.

The CPS has also to complete by the end of September its own review into counsel’s prosecution fees, including work carried out – and to date unpaid – for examining unused material; this will also involve investment of new money on top of the new fee structure that came into force this month.

Much, much more is still required across the board for criminal justice to function.

Caroline Goodwin QC


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