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Death by a thousand cuts – expert fees take another hit

 

You might remember some time back that there was a consultation on a proposal to reduce expert fees further from the drastic cuts brought into play in October 2011   (I say consultation, what I mean of course is, breaking the news to experts that this was definitely going to happen and giving them a few months notice whilst pretending that no decisions had yet been made)

 

As ever with a Government agency, finding the document that actually publishes the new rates is a forensic ferreting exercise all of its own, but this is it, below

 

http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/legal-aid/funding-code/remuneration-of-expert-witnesses-guidance.PDF

 

These rates now come in to all cases with a start date after December 2013   (so it is worth knowing that an expert who is INSTRUCTED in January 2014, might get paid at the old rates if the CASE itself started before December 2013. If you’re an expert, that might well be a question worth asking)

 

 

Picking out the ones most common in care proceedings  (these are non-London rates, some of the London ones are slightly different)

 

[When I say 2011 rate, that was the rate from Oct 2011 until April 2013, when there was an interim cut]

 

Child psychiatrist now £108 per hour  [the rate in 2011 was £135]

 

Child psychologist £100.80 per hour [the rate in 2011 was £126]

 

DNA testing  £252 for the sample and testing, £72 for the report  [2011 was £315 and £90]

 

Interpreter £28 per hour   [2011 was £32]

 

Neurologist £122.40 per hour [2011 was £153]

 

Paediatrician £108 per hour            [2011 was £135]

 

Psychiatrist £108 per hour               [2011 was £135]

 

Psychologist £93.60 per hour          [2011 was £117]

 

Risk assessment expert £50.40 per hour [2011 was £63]

 

 

 

If you imagine a ballpark of the costs having been cut by 33% in two years (having already been cut down extensively in the 2011 changes) you’d be about right.

 

The new guidance is silent on social work costs, which have historically been at £30 per hour.  Let’s take that to mean that ISWs can still be paid at £30 an hour, which is good news, because applying the 33% cut given to other experts would mean ISWs working at £20 an hour, and there really would be none left at that rate.

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About suesspiciousminds

Law geek, local authority care hack, fascinated by words and quirky information; deeply committed to cheesecake and beer.

4 responses

  1. Uh! Excuse me, before the cuts to expert fees there was no specific fee for independent social workers, those of us who were self employed children’s guardians accepted the CAFCASS rates of £33 in London and £30 outside on the basis of the job satisfaction, the working in tandem with a child care solicitor and then the esteem in which the courts and other professionals held our contribution.
    Our fees were slashed about 2 years ago and some people have had money paid for work before that date demanded back!! I agree some people charged rates much higher that I did (a flat £50 per hour with no disbursements) and I would have thought the rate I charged to be about right.
    The other thing is that I like many others underestimated the hours work would take sometimes by quite a large amount but you try sugggesting that more hours are required, no the LAA have amounts of time things “should” take even though none of those bureaucrats have the vaguest knowledge of the social work task. GRRRR!! Not at you I love your blog but sometimes I just have to vent my frustration, especially when I read some highter paid professional’s stream of conciousness report.
    Keep up the good work.
    Diane Jackson

    • Hi Diane, sorry if I have irked you. I assure you it was accidental.

      I try to think of myself as being rather a champion of Independent Social Workers; who I think added value and brought good stuff to the table and the fee cuts they took were appalling and a lack of recognition that good ISWs were providing something very important and valuable. I think they got a very harsh deal compared with the cushioning of the cuts that psychologists got (though they are now feeling the pinch, they can still bill at three times the hourly rate of ISWs)

  2. This item really makes me larf. As a former Family Support Worker with Cafcass I got £12 per hour. As the person undertaking direct work with children and families I was frequently regarded by Family Court Judges as an expert witness in Private Law work. Particularly when they saw the quality of my work and reports to court. I have to say that I was a qualified social worker with over 30 years experience before coming to Cafcass.

    I am not just blowing my own trumpet when I say that my work and input was more helpful to the courts than many very expensive psychologists, and certainly more important than the Cafcass Family Court Advisers who held the case but did no work on it apart from a court report. On a number of occasions when judges asked for a current update and the Cafcass FCA stood up the judges told them to sit down again, addressing me directly for the update.

    I also achieved lots of positive outcomes for children caught up in private law disputes, and was commended for my work by judges. Unfortunately Cafcass made most of us redundant last year so that Mr Douglas could waste more public money on follys and deception…..and all that for £12 per hour….what a bargain

  3. Just breaking off from my stream of consciousness…It’s great to know my place in the food chain. Apparently I am worth almost 4 photographers, about 3/4 of a psychiatrist etc etc. Or perhaps I am confusing cost with worth here.

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