Kent in-housers seek to cut £3m of legal costs by 2014

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  • Funny this.
    I'm sure that County Councils are supposed to do stuff like road-sweeping, education, care etc. for their own local population.
    Since when was a County Council's Legal Department supposed to actively want to ditch their own legal work, in favour presumably of doing work for other councils...?
    Any chance of Kent CC's snow clearers giving up on the Kent roads but making a pitch for clearing Yorkshire's roads? Is this the much vaunted 'new paradigm' perhaps?
    Total and utter madness - the lunatics have truly taken charge of the asylum...

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  • Wanting to know what"salami-slicing exercise or a corporate comb over" is to those who don't speak corporatese.

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  • Like many others, I harbour doubts about how Kent County Council's offer of external legal services complies with the EC rules on state aids.
    In this article it is clear that the same workforce is providing both the internal and external legal work. The problem with that approach, as cases like Hofner demonstrate, is that the council is operating within a market (the provision of legal services) whilst using public money. That the profits are recycled is irrelevant.
    I'm sure that the council is acting in a compliant manner, but its far from obvious exactly how they are managing that .

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  • My council also sells microwaves and groceries.
    It doesn't of course, but it's as bizarre as this situation.
    Surely this is state aid.

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  • Firms bidding for public sector work must have recognised that this is state aids by KCC. I can only imagine these rivals are holding off so the interest on the aid that will become repayable is greater.

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  • I pity the firm that has signed off on the state aids approach.

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  • Anon 2.26pm, no law firm would. It would be madness to take such a high risk.

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  • The state aid question is a reasonable one, but Marshall Hall's position is odd: KCC aren't doing external legal work for free instead of doing work for Kent residents, but rather to raise revenue, which improves the service the council is able to offer.
    Also, it isn't 'ditching' Kent legal work, but instead trying to move to a position where there isn't as much unncecessary work to do -- something that all councils should learn from. The assumption that all longwinded processes and painful bureaucracy are essential is why so many public sector staff are so bad at efficiency saving.

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  • Anyone who crticises this entrepreneurial and inspiring initiative either misses the point entirely, is overcome by envy or is happy to have flaccid, sedentary bureaucrats as their local authority employees (possibly all three). As for state "aids", as I understand it, Kent's lawyers don't receive a penny from their council in either corporate funding, subsidy or provision of overheads. They are not guaranteed Kent's work and, other than in fees earned, all other expenses and overheads are shown above the line. They are net contributors to the public purse, not a drain on public funds. They are saving their council money and keeping other public sector bodies' legal costs down. In fact, the only ones to lose out are us in the private sector. More power to Wild and Co!

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  • As a local authority, Kent County Council had special dispensation for the purposes of state aids, but the moment they entered the legal services market, that cover disappeared. Therefore it does look like KCC did fall foul of state aids.
    Of course, they could clear all this up by putting a statement on their webpage explaining how they achieved compliance with the European Regulations on state aids.
    I'm surprised their rivals don't complain.

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