The consultation paper, Review of Magistrates' Courts Revenue Grant
Allocation Formula, proposes that magistrates courts, like other
public services, are funded in a way that takes more account of
The new formula would be used from April 2001 to allocate funding to
the forty-two Magistrates' Courts Committees (MCCs) in England and
Wales. Around 75% of the grant would be based on workload and around
25% on accommodation and other overheads. In addition, up to£2m would be set aside each year to reward performance, for example in speeding up the time cases take to go through the courts.
The new system would also take account of the extra costs of
providing services in rural areas, in the Welsh Language and in the
Jane Kennedy, minister at the lord chancellor's department, said:
'The government holds the magistracy in great esteem and recognises a
debt of gratitude for its commitment. Over 95% of all criminal cases
begin and end in the magistrates' courts. Without these efforts, the
criminal justice system would grind to a halt.
'That is why we believe it is vitally important to help the
magistrates courts service to modernise and in particular to improve
performance. The consultation paper published today aims to provide a
funding formula which will help the magistrates courts achieve this.
'The service has long been dissatisfied with the current system.
These proposals aim to produce a simpler, more transparent funding
system which allocates grant more fairly while promoting efficiency
and improved performance. We want all magistrates courts committees
to be meeting the standards of the best.
'I am sure members of the magistrates court service will take the
opportunity to comment on this important consultation.'
The new system would also involve a small amount of grant being
retained centrally, as before, to fund specific costs such as the
transitional costs of amalgamation or projects which will benefit
other MCCs. Changes in funding allocations would be introduced
gradually with measures to help MCC's cope with the transition.
The magistrates courts service have voiced criticisms of the current
funding on the basis that it:
- does not direct funding in accordance with need
- distributes resources on the basis of historic outturn
- is not transparently fair
- does not promote efficiency and good performance
- does not provide year-on-year stability
Responses on the consultation paper are sought by 4 October 2000.
1. The lord chancellor's department supports the local management of
the magistrates courts through magistrates courts committees (MCC).
It provides local authorities with a grant which meets 80% of the
MCC's expenditure. Local authorities contribute 20%.
2. Copies of the consultation paper are available from Daveena Ogene on 020 7210 8783. It is also available on the LCD
website. Comments should be sent to: Mr M Kavuma, Lord Chancellor's Department, 4th Floor, Selborne House, 54-60 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6QW.
3. The revenue grant for magistrates' courts has been allocated under
the present formula since 1993 and has been kept under review since
December 1994. A review was set up in July 1996 and concluded in June
1998. However, consultation on these conclusions raised concerns and
the Magistrates' Courts Consultative Council concluded it did not
want to see changes to the funding formula until the MCC amalgamation
programme was completed in April 2001. As a result the funding
formula was frozen.