The LAA has published its annual report for 2018-19. They have four strategic objectives:
SO1 – Provide simple, timely and reliable access to legal aid
SO2 – Build strong relationships across government and the justice system
SO3 – Secure value for money for the taxpayer in all that they do
SO4 – Achieve their full potential through being fair, proud and supportive
They processed over 480,000 applications for legal aid. 91% of civil legal aid applications were processed within 20 working days. They also processed over 700,000 bills within 15 days of receiving them. They answered over 200,000 phone calls, in an average of 2:35 minutes (civil). They reduced their net error rate to 0.65% – within the Treasury target of <1%.
At the same time, they reduced their staff costs by £2.1 million compared to 2017-18. LAA staff took 5.7 days off sick on average during the year – up from 4.9 in 2017-18 but within the civil service benchmark of 7 days.
There were 119 personal data-related incidents – down by 18 compared to 2017-18. None required a report to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
Overall, LAA expenditure went up £34.7m to £1.8bn. The main cause of this was the increase in the cost of Special Children Act cases, which went up £43.4m to £623.4m. The cost of Legal Help went down by £1.2m, to £97.9m. Expenditure on most Crime cases went down, although there was a £3m increase in Crown Cost Orders for private prosecution cases (to £56.9m).