The Legal Aid Agency has reported “a steady increase” in the number of providers submitting applications through the controversial Client and Costs Management System (CCMS).
In an update last week, the LAA said almost 75% of providers have used CCMS to issue applications and 70% of new applications are now submitted through the system. “In the last week, over 4,500 bills were submitted online and this figure is steadily increasing.”
Earlier this month, John Sirodcar, head of LAA contract management, wrote to all providers encouraging the use of CCMS ahead of the system becoming mandatory for Special Children Act (SCA) cases on 1 February and all other cases on 1 April.
“Many of you have fed back that it takes time for staff to get trained up; to become familiar with the system through regular use – although training is important, familiarity is critical to using the system efficiently; and to understand where you may want to adjust working practices.
“Therefore, we recommend that you start to submit your new civil applications electronically and increase the amount of complex work you are processing through the system.”
The LAA said it was continuing “to roll out upgrades” to the system ahead of the mandatory deadline of 1 April, but to date there has been no sign of it addressing the concerns raised by the ACL’s legal aid group.
The LAA has also published the transitional arrangements for applications for work under the SCA. It said:
• Any new licensed work paper applications signed or delegated by the provider prior to 1 February and received by the LAA within five working days, on or before Friday 5 February, will be processed;
• Where applications are accepted on paper but subsequently refused, any related appeal or submission will continue on paper;
• Applications accepted on paper but subsequently rejected or returned for further information must be resubmitted on CCMS;
• All SCA applications signed or delegated on or after 1 February must be submitted electronically using CCMS;
• Failure to submit the application using CCMS will result in the application being returned