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The legal team at Kent County Council (KCC) have contributed over £3.7m to the council after announcing record profits for the 2012/13 financial year.
The team saw turnover rise 9 per cent during the year, from £11m to £12m, while profits increased 20 per cent, from £2m to a record £2.42m.
A money-saving programme dubbed the ’Evolution’ project, which the legal team launched last year (25 April 2012), also saved the council an additional £1.3m. The six-pronged programme was expected to save the council £1m in legal fees by the end of this year and £3m by 2015.
Adding together profits for the year with the £1.3m in savings, the legal team contributed £3.7m to KCC, a surplus that goes directly to funding the council.
The contribution relieves a burden that would otherwise have to be met through taxation, with the money set to go to front-line services including roads, social care, schools and libraries.
Director of governance and law at KCC Geoff Wild said: ”Our work with clients on suppressing their legal risk has borne real fruit and is massively reducing Kent’s legal costs in real terms at a time of growing need and shrinking budgets. Our profit this year means that Kent Legal Services has now contributed nearly £11 million over the past 10 years to front-line council services.”
KCC’s legal team run on a zero-budget basis, receiving no internal subsidy and competing for work in the open market.
A number of local authorities are looking at ways they can cut their legal expenditure. The legal teams at neighbouring London authorities Lambeth and Southwark are considering setting up an ABS vehicle in a bid to cut costs (18 March 2013), which would be set up to look at the “more meaty legal issues” that are currently being sent out to external counsel, estimated to cost each authority around £3m a year.