LSC invites tenders for family telephone advice contracts

12 JAN 2009

Following a successful pilot, the Legal Services Commission (LSC) have confirmed that family advice is to become a permanent category of advice available via the Community Legal Advice helpline and is now inviting tenders to deliver this service.

The Community Legal Advice is a telephone helpline funded by the LSC that provides legal advice direct to the public on a range of common legal problems. Launched in July 2004 by the LSC, it now receives more than 70,000 calls a month.

The family telephone advice pilot commenced in October 2007. The helpline received 38,380 family calls during the pilot year. However, the pilot only had the capacity to deal with less than 50% of all eligible calls.

Data from the pilot indicates that telephone advice appears most suitable for clients with cases involving contact with children in private law proceedings (36% of cases) and in matters involving divorce (14% of cases).

The pilot has also proved successful in reaching a more diverse client base than traditional face-to-face services. 11% of family helpline callers described themselves as having a disability compared with 7% of family face-to-face clients. 20% of helpline callers were from an ethnic minority background compared with 11% of family face-to-face clients.

The helpline offers a considerable cost saving for the LSC against face-to-face work for one-off pieces of advice. Comparison with data from face-to-face providers shows the average cost of a one-off piece of advice through the telephone helpline was £61.04, which compares with a cost of £108.83 for fixed fee face-to-face work (single meeting, level 1 advice).

Tenders are invited from organisations able to offer specialist advice in family law as part of the Community Legal Advice helpline. Organisations wishing to tender do not need to be current providers and the LSC are encouraging new entrants to the market.

The tender closing date is 12pm on Friday, 27 February 2009. Full details of how to tender are available from the LSC website.
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