The Legal Aid Board (LAB) is understood to be planning cutbacks in temporary administrative staff, say senior sources.
It is thought the LAB will not renew certain temporary contracts when it becomes the Legal Services Commission following the Access to Justice Act and contracting is introduced. As reported exclusively in The Lawyer (1 February), the LAB has an admin budget deficit of £3m.
The LAB confirms the introduction of contracting and other reforms will see a reduction in the number of people needed to handle claims in the "traditional way", notably billing and green form processing.
One source tells The Lawyer that the number of permanent staff required for this type of work in London, for example, will be cut from 200 staff to 37.
The LAB's press manager Caroline O'Dwyer refuses to confirm figures, but insists there will be no redundancies among full and part-time staffand says claim processors will be redeployed.
But she refuses to say what is happening to the 303 temporary staff, who make up 18 per cent of the workforce.
Asked for the anticipated number of temporary staff this time next year, O'Dwyer says: "The number of temporary staff required in future years will be determined by the needs of the business. It is too early to predict numbers."