Deep cuts at the Ministry of Justice will reduce the department’s administrative budget by 50% within five years under the chancellor’s new spending plans.
Together with reforms of the prisons and courts systems, ‘significant back-office efficiencies’ will help deliver overall MoJ ‘resource savings’ of 15% by 2019/20.
The chancellor’s breakdown of departmental settlements shows amounts allocated to programme and administration budgets for the next five years. The MoJ’s budget (excluding capital spending) rises from a baseline of £6.2bn in 2015/16 to a high of £6.5bn in 2016/17, before falling back sharply to £6.3bn, £5.8bn and finally £5.6bn in 2019/20.
The capital budget rises from £400m in 2015/16 to £700m for each of the following three years, before falling to £400m in 2019/20 and just £100m in 2020/21.
The 15% cut over five years is the deepest among Whitehall departments which have £5bn-plus annual budgets, trailing only the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (-17%).
The law officers’ departments will suffer a 2.1% cumulative fall on spending expected to remain static at £500m a year.
Justice secretary Michael Gove said: ‘This spending review allows us to create a one-nation justice system which better serves the public. It provides the funding we need to reform the courts, so they provide swift and certain justice.
‘We will also transform prisons, so they become places of rehabilitation – helping to reduce reoffending, cut crime, and improve public safety.’
Bar Council chairman Alistair MacDonald QC said: ‘Investment to modernise courts and tribunals is vital to the successful reform of our criminal justice system and today’s Ministry of Justice settlement safeguards the £700 million announced earlier this year.
'Proposed overall resource savings of 15% and a 50% cut in the department’s administrative budget, are obviously a big concern. Whatever plans have been made to implement these cuts, we urge the government to ensure that access to justice, particularly for the most vulnerable, is not further restricted.'