It's more than three years since I first wrote about CLACs - Community Legal Advice Centres. They were the government's response to the spiralling cost of legal aid. Get local councils to make contracts with a single deliverer of all advice services, including legal advice, and channel the money exclusively to that deliverer. It seemed pretty clear that they envisaged that the existing services, such as the CAB, would team up with others to bid for the contracts; and that's what happened in the first CLAC. But then A4e spotted an opportunity, got together with a Sheffield legal firm and set their bid writers on it. The result was, inevitably, that A4e got the Leicester CLAC. The Hull one followed, and only then did alarm bells start ringing. The government hadn't really intended that the CAB, along with all other advice services like Law Centres, would go out of business because of lack of funding. When I blogged about this in May 2010 there were five CLACs with five more planned, but A4e still only had the two. Then, as funding was withdrawn across the piece, the idea of the CLACs quietly died. The Leicester one is still run by A4e, but in Hull the contract ends in March next year and is not being renewed, because of the loss of the £600k from the LSC which was half its funding. The CAB is being brought back in.
It doesn't matter much to A4e. The CLACs have been a stepping stone to other advice service contracts, like the Money Advice Service.
There's an interesting job on offer at A4e's Westminster office - Public Affairs Officer. It seems to be mainly about political connections. Any takers?