UK Bar Council Furloughs Staff As Well As Freezing Recruitment & Pay

Legal Futures reports on this announcement from the UK Bar Council and as yet lack of public statements from the the UK SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) As you can see from our photo (source Linked In) it’s good to see that Bar Council chief executive Malcolm Cree is maintining social distancing rules !


They write…

The Bar Council and Bar Standards Board have announced a series of measures – including furloughing – to make savings of more than £200,000 to aid the profession during the Covid-19 crisis.

However, this is against a background of an overall budget for 2020/21 of more than £18m, and the Bar Council said that “further savings measures may well be required”.

Both bodies have implemented a pay and recruitment freeze, while their chairs, vice-chairs and chief executives have all taken a voluntary temporary 20% pay cut ahead of an expected fall in income.

In addition, the Bar Council – which is making £98,000 of savings in all – has so far furloughed seven of its 35 staff, whilst also reducing the activities in its business plan for the year and doing “as much as possible online”, including training courses and major events such as the pupillage fair.

The Resources Group – the shared services team that provides both bodies with finance, IT and HR support – has furloughed six out of 41 roles.

The BSB said that regulatory demands, such as the need to make new arrangements for Bar students whose exams have been delayed and to help the Bar to maintain pupillages, meant it has been “unable to furlough staff now”. The other staffing measures should save £110,000.

The two bodies’ budgeted income for 2020/21 is £18.7m, of which £15.4m comes from the practising certificate (PC) fees. It was anticipating an £807,000 surplus.

The BSB receives two-thirds of the PC fees, the Bar Council 28% and the rest goes to pay for the Legal Services Board and Legal Ombudsman.

The Bar Council’s reserves policy is that they should be the higher of four months operating costs or £3m; the most recent figures show it currently holds the latter.

Bar Council chief executive Malcolm Cree said: “Right now, our focus is on supporting the profession we represent through this crisis. We have been working flat out to ensure that the vital public service and contribution to society and the economy that the Bar provides is recognised and supported. The scale of the challenge for practitioners and chambers must be addressed.

“As the Bar Council (including the BSB) is funded by the Bar, with fees based on earnings in the previous year, we are anticipating a significant drop in income next year, hence the need to cut costs early so we do not become a greater financial burden on those we are trying to support…

“We are a very small organisation, which relies heavily on our dedicated staff and some 400 volunteer barristers, and punches well above our weight, but we know that we need to be as lean as possible, especially now.”

BSB director-general Mark Neale said the crisis “has actually increased workloads in several areas… but we shall continue to seek savings wherever we can”.

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