Government announces extra Â£5.38m investment for family mediation scheme
The scheme will be extended to March 2023
The government has announced an extra £5.38m in funding for its mediation scheme; the total invested in the scheme since its launch in March 2021 is £8.68m.
Under the scheme – run by the Family Mediation Council (FMC) on behalf of the Ministry of Justice – £500 mediation vouchers are provided to divorcing couples. The aim is to help them find mutually agreeable solutions to avoid lengthy and acrimonious disputes and free up space in the family courts.
The latest cash injection will provide around 10,200 additional vouchers for mediation services in addition to the 8,400 issued so far.
The scheme has been successful, with around two-thirds of cases reaching full or partial agreements away from court. The FMC conducted preliminary research on the first 2,800 completed cases using the vouchers. Data revealed 65 per cent reached either a whole or partial agreement away from court, while a further three per cent only attended court to formalise their agreement. It also found 50 per cent of participants would not have attempted mediation without the financial incentive offered by the scheme.
Deputy prime minister, lord chancellor and secretary of state for justice, Dominic Raab, said: “We are investing over £5 million this year alone to help more families to resolve their disputes without the stress and trauma of lengthy courtroom battles.
“Mediation protects children, by removing the bitterness of parental disputes from the amplifying effect of a courtroom – and allows the family courts to focus on adjudicating cases with serious safeguarding concerns, including domestic abuse”.
Without the vouchers, mediation sessions would normally be charged for unless one of the parties has access to legal aid.
If a case is eligible for vouchers, the mediator will automatically claim back the contributions from the FMC. This latest investment will extend the initiative to March 2023.
The government has said it will invest £324m over the next three years to improve timeliness in civil and family courts and tribunals. Another £200m will complete it £1.3bn court reform programme, which it hopes will make the justice system “quicker and more efficient”.