Ministry of Justice written question – answered at on 21 May 2024.

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Photo of Navendu Mishra Navendu Mishra Labour, Stockport

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will make an assessment of the potential impact of (a) staffing levels and (b) staff training on the time taken to process probate applications in each of the last 12 months.

Photo of Mike Freer Mike Freer Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

HM Courts & Tribunals Service recruited 100 full time equivalent (FTE) staff between June 2022 and June 2023 for the probate service. HMCTS are now holding staffing levels at around 280 FTE compared to 153 FTE in March 2020. This is to maintain the increased volume of grants being issued and providing capacity for a rolling training programme to build the capability of the workforce.

More recent Management Information published by HMCTS shows the average mean length of time taken for a grant of probate (following receipt of the documents required) reduced by 3 weeks in March 2024 compared to February 2024. The average timeliness for cases completing in March was 9 weeks.

Official statistics show that the average time (median) from application submission to grant issue for all grant types was 11.0 weeks in 2023 (mean average time was 13.9 weeks). From the document receipt to grant issue the median average time was 8.7 weeks (mean average time 12.0).

Despite the probate service receiving record levels of applications during 2023 the open workable caseload (cases not waiting for more information from the applicant) has reduced by 30,500 cases since August 2023 and currently stands at 37,406 in March 2024.

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