We have had some excellent feedback from member’s, associate and retired members and outside allies to last week’s BBC Panorama programme. Whilst there were a couple of grumbles the key questions that have come in were around what happens next?
Attendees to the AGM will have heard that Napo will be providing evidence to the Justice Select Committee inquiry into probation announced by its Chair, Bob Neil and hopes to also get called to give oral evidence. We will continue our considerable efforts to maintain pressure both politically and via the media to highlight the ongoing concerns.
Another such example came in the form of this piece from the Guardian's Kirstie Brewer exposing the disgraceful example of just how risky it is to interview clients in a Public Library because the service provider (Working Links yet again) has cut its staffing and accommodation estate to the bone in the pursuit of profits for its shareholders.
We always say this, and I will once again, that members using their entitlement as a constituent, can write to their MP using the model letter on the website to highlight local issues and seek a meeting with them. Just as importantly you can also encourage other staff who are not already a member of a trade union to join Napo using the materials on the website to make our voice stronger locally, and hopefully map out ways in which they can get involved with their branch. Branches can liaise directly with their Officer and Official links and or Tania Bassett about campaigning activities in their area.
This takes place in London on the 24th November DETAILS & BOOKING LINK, and there is a hugely interesting agenda with Keynote speakers, panel discussion and workshops.
The PSO conference is an ideal opportunity for members in the probation service from the NPS or CRCs to meet and exchange experiences and to consider how you might be able to play a more active role in Napo if you wish to. Contact Cynthia Griffith here at Napo HQ if you need more information.
Lidington announces review of legal aid
Not before time given the disastrous approach to this issue by one of the Secretary of States predecessors (you know who).
Here is what was said in the House of Commons:
I have today laid before Parliament, and shared with the Chair of the Justice Select Committee, the Government’s post-legislative memorandum for the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) 2012, introduced by the Coalition Government. This fulfils the commitment made by former Justice Minister Sir Oliver Heald before this House earlier this year.
My predecessors also committed to publish a post-implementation review of the legal aid changes made by the Act during its passage through Parliament. I have asked my officials to commence this review.
Our legal aid system is a fundamental pillar of access to justice, accounting for more than a fifth of the Ministry of Justice’s budget. The reforms within the Act were founded on delivering better value for money for taxpayers by reducing the cost of the scheme and discouraging unnecessary and adversarial litigation, while ensuring that legal aid continues to be available for the highest priority cases, for example where life or liberty is at stake, where someone faces the loss of their home, in domestic violence cases, or where their children may be taken into care.
The Government has previously committed to review a number of areas, including:
- the changes made to the scope of legal aid for family, civil and criminal cases, and the introduction of the Exceptional Case Funding scheme;
- the changes made to fees for various types of legal aid work;
- the procedural changes the Act made, including the introduction of the mandatory telephone gateway and the introduction of evidence requirements for victims of domestic violence and child abuse;
- changes to the rules on financial eligibility, including the application of the capital eligibility test to all legal aid applicants, increasing income contributions for those eligible to contribute, and capping the subject matter of dispute disregard;
- changes to the application of the merits test;
- the abolition of the Legal Services Commission and its replacement with the Legal Aid Agency.
This review of Part 1 of the Act will be led by officials in my department. I am keen that we listen to views on these changes from all interested parties, and I will shortly be inviting individuals and organisations to join consultative panels and contribute to this review work.
The review will conclude before the start of the summer recess 2018.
My predecessors also committed to a post-implementation review of the civil litigation funding and costs reforms in Part 2 of the Act. We are considering how to carry out that review, but we hope to conclude it to the same timetable.
Some cause for optimism for once!
Another financial whammy on the cards
Here is what’s known as an early day motion about another piece of sneaky legislation by the ‘Workers Party’ under the dreadful Trade Union Act. It’s fairly self- explanatory, and yet again something you might want to raise with your MP.
That this House is gravely concerned that the Government's proposals for a Certification Officer's levy on trade unions would result in unions having fewer resources to represent their members, a reduced capacity to negotiate better jobs and working conditions for working people, and a diminished ability to take enforcement action against bad employers; does not believe that the functions delivered by the Certification Officer should be recoverable by the proposed levy, which is both unnecessary and out of proportion to the reality of the current system; notes that the current proposal effectively create a flat-rate charge for all unions with an annual income of over £900,000, and does not account for the varying budgets and existing resources of those organisations; further notes that the proposed division of costs between the various types of organisations regulated by the Certification Office is unjust and greater clarity needs to be provided on the rise in costs, since the Certification Officer's income is set to more than treble; and therefore calls on the Government to consider retaining the existing funding arrangements, or at least to ensure that any system of levies treats unions and employers equally, and ensure that all levied organisations are required to pay at a level that is broadly proportionate to their income.
Someone out there doesn’t like us very much.
GDPR- we will need your help to keep us in touch with you
In May 2018 the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) will come into effect – this replaces the current Data Protection Act. A key consideration of these new regulations is your consent to how we use your personal details – particularly IN respect of sending information to you and sharing your contact details with third parties. Currently we may send you emails or letters depending on your stated preference when you first joined Napo. Additionally, we may share your contact details with carefully selected third party organisations – again, only dependant on your stated preference.
In order to comply with the legislation we will need to contact all members by email and letter to ask you to reaffirm your consent to specifically opting in to receiving these communications. You can expect to receive more news about this early in 2018 and it is vitally important that every member responds to this communication as by law a failure to respond will mean that we have to assume that you have opted out of communications and as a consequence you will not receive any further communications from Napo.
Another piece of legislation that has not exactly been designed to help trade unions and other member led organisations to stay in contact with their members.
Have a good weekend and look out for more news next week