This budget does not really look far ahead and indeed, given COVID and Brexit, it is hard to do so.
But the figures suggest a lot pain ahead for public services. Certainly for MoJ, with no increase in underlying funding at all in 2021-22 (ie excluding temporary COVID-related funding for Nightingale Courts etc). Given the parlous state of legal aid, the enormous backlog of court cases (now being listed for hearing in 2023!), the continuing crisis in prisons (rates of self harm and assaults on harm still around twice what they were pre austerity, and a surge in numbers inevitable as the backlog of cases is tackled, never mind Johnson's plans for increasing the prison population), there seems little scope for repairing the damage done to every part of the justice system since 2010. Meanwhile MoJ makes the most of doling out penny packets for this or that specialised need.
For a Department which for years has been quite unable to live within its means, it's a poor outlook.
And yet, with different policies, this is the one department which could do more with less, if we were prepared to acknowledge the pointlessness of our addiction to ever-increasing incarceration.
I was formerly Finance Director of the Prison Service and then Director of the National Offender Management Service responsible for competition. I also worked in the NHS and an IT company. I later worked for two outsourcing companies.
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