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To ask the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice what research she has (a) initiated and (b) evaluated on the effectiveness of funding provided for Hampshire Family Mediation as a result of the restructuring of legal aid; and if she will make a statement.
The Legal Services Commission (LSC) has researched the impact upon mediation services of its proposals for a revised mediation remuneration structure, which aligns the for profit (FP) and not for profit (NfP) sectors onto the same fee scheme. The partial regulatory impact assessment concluded that 70 per cent. of the 200 mediation service providers will gain financially under the proposals. In common with other mediation providers, Hampshire Family Mediation (HFM) will no longer receive the fixed annual payment in addition to fees for work done, provided for the last three years, under the transitional NfP contracting arrangements. Under the new arrangements, HFM will be paid through new increased fixed fees, which will apply equally to both FP and NfP providers.
The LSC's proposals to revise the family fee structure will remove the financial disincentives for solicitors to make referrals to mediation, which has historically been alleged by the mediation profession to be an obstacle to increasing mediation referrals. The new family fee schemes for solicitors should encourage more and earlier referrals to mediation providers.