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LSC says it will not fund independent social workers

Date:11 NOV 2009

The Legal Services Commission (LSC) has reminded practitioners that it will not fund independent social workers to act as guardians in public law children cases.

Following delays in the appointment of childrens' guardians in public law cases, practitioners representing children have been directed by family courts to instruct an independent social worker to undertake the role of the guardian.

However, despite the current problems with Cafcass, the LSC has reminded practitioners that that such work is not a legitimate disbursement under a public funding certificate.

According to the LSC, it does not fall within the scope of services in the definition of Legal Representation in the Funding Code.

In a statement the LSC said: "The Community Legal Service Fund is limited and it is the responsibility of Cafcass to provide a children's guardian in such cases.

"This does not affect the instruction of an independent social worker as an expert, appointed in accordance with the relevant Practice Direction, when carrying out additional work that does not fall within the functions of Cafcass as set out in section 12 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000.

"Providers should therefore note that any applications for prior authority for such costs will be refused as will any claim for costs on assessment".