The courts service (HMCTS) spent £50m last year on agency and contract staff; it spent less than £4m in 2010, whilst more than 220 courts across England and Wales have closed.
Part of the increase appears to be linked to a £1bn court modernisation programme aimed at transferring more court hearings online or operating them through remote video-links. More than £30m is being spent on external management consultants.
Critics have said spending tens of millions of pounds more on agency staff is a false economy and a reckless use of resources.
Last week the MoJ revealed that a further eight courts had been earmarked for sale. These are Wandsworth county court and Blackfriars crown court in London, and magistrates’ courts in Cambridge, North Allerton, Banbury, Maidenhead, Chorley and Fleetwood.
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