Lawyers warning over family experts fee cuts

first_imgSlashing the fees of social work experts will put vulnerable children at risk and increase delays in the family court, their representative groups have warned. From October 2010, the Ministry of Justice will reduce by around 50% the fees paid to social workers who give independent advice to family courts in public law cases concerning children. Alison Paddle, spokeswoman at NAGALRO, the professional association for children’s guardians and independent social workers, said the fees would be cut from around £50-70 to £30 – the amount paid to CAFCASS social workers. ‘Despite courts relying on their assessments, independent social workers are already the lowest paid of the court’s expert witnesses. Yet it is often their report that draws together and puts in context the conclusions of more highly paid experts,’ she said. She said the fee cut could lead to people leaving the profession, diminishing the pool of experts available, which would exacerbate the already ‘unacceptably long delays’ in cases. A Ministry of Justice consultation is considering the fees paid to expert witnesses, but social workers are not included in it. Christina Blacklaws, Law Society council member for child care law, said there was a real disparity in amounts experts receive, with some getting £300 an hour while others earn much less. ‘It is completely wrong that the fees of social workers, who play an important role in proceedings, are being slashed,’ she said. ‘But let’s not forget that legal aid lawyers are paid a pittance – we get an average of £55 an hour and have huge overheads to cover,’ she said. An MoJ spokesman said that since 2003 Legal Services Commission guidance has said independent social workers should be paid the same rates as CAFCASS pays its self-employed contractors, and it was appropriate to follow those rates.last_img read more

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Musical teen off to New York to follow her passion

first_imgHannah Kay, from Belthorn Estate, received a part scholarship to complete an associate degree at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. An Athlone teen has a chance to attend drama school in New York next year. Hannah Kay, 18, received a part scholarship to complete an associate degree in musical theatre at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. The teen from Belthorn Estate, will be focusing on music, something which she has been very passionate about since the age of 10. Hannah is a singer and plays the flute and piano. Music runs in the family: her father, Lloydd, sings and plays the piano, guitar and saxophone. Her younger brother, Noah, plays the drums and bass. At the young age of 10, Hannah taught herself to play the piano. Her first paid gig was a family wedding where she played the flute. “Music has always been a part of my life. It is something that people can relate to and it inspires people. It is a universal language. “I don’t want to be the next Beyonce or Rihanna, I simply want to be the best version of me and work on improving my gift and helping other young people like me,” she said.Hannah’s favourite singer is Michael Jackson, and she also enjoys the sounds of Josephine Baker and Jorja Smith.  She will study part music and part academics at the New York institution next year. “This is something that I’ve always dreamt of and finally it is happening. “I am excited and nervous and cannot believe that I will be studying in the arts capital of the world. My friends and family are very supportive of me and are excited for me, the support has been overwhelming.”  Her mom, Lynn Kerchhoff, said she was thrilled for her daughter and very proud of her.“We have come far as a family, and music has united us. It is a gift that not many people have that we are able to spend so much time with the kids,” she said. If anyone would like to contribute to Hannah’s trip the link is https://www.backabuddy.co.za/hannah-kerchhofflast_img read more

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