More funding cuts for Ministry of Justice
The Ministry of Justice was a big loser in the spending review settlement announced in November by chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne, but did receive a much-needed boost in extra capital for modernisation.
By the end of the spending review period in 2019/20, the MoJ will have been expected to find 15 per cent in savings, including a 50 per cent cut in administration. It is second only to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which has to find 17 per cent in reductions from its budget in the same period.
Justice secretary Michael Gove was successful in persuading the Treasury to increase the department’s capital budget, including £700m (up from the previously announced £380m) earmarked for modernising the courts and tribunals system through investment in technology and buildings. Commenting on the extra cash, the justice secretary said: ‘It provides the funding we need to reform the courts, so they provide swift and certain justice.’
Gove also plans to sell off inner-city prison sites to offset the costs of building nine new prisons, five of which are planned for this parliament, including Holloway women’s prison in north London.
Responding to the spending review announcement, LAG’s director, Steve Hynes, said: ‘The modernisation of the criminal courts through the increased use of technology is very welcome.’ But he warned: ‘Gove will have to build bridges with the criminal defence lawyers in order to implement his planned reforms. The justice system will also continue to be degraded by these unsustainable cuts.’