The Law Society has warned that access to justice could be adversely affected after the Legal Services Commission (LSC), which runs the legal aid scheme, cut 600 jobs.
As revealed by TheLawyer.com (4 November), the LSC is to shrink its headcount from 1,700 to 1,100 by 2011 in a bid to reshape its business support directorate.
The initiative will see the LSC slash the number of processing sites from 13 to five, with some job losses coming as part of the downsizing. Jobs will start being cut by mid-2009 at the earliest.
Law Society chief executive Des Hudson said the representative body is concerned about the impact this could have on the smooth running of the legal aid system and on those seeking access to justice.
“Is this yet another example of the Government cutting legal aid provision down to the absolute bare bones, with the risk that legal aid users as well as providers lose out in the long run? We’ll be seeking urgent clarification,” said Hudson.
An LSC spokesman said the changes are part of the transformation of legal aid in England and Wales, which is designed to deliver improved services to clients.
“More efficient processes and ;increased ;use ;of electronic working will enable us to provide these services with fewer staff and to deliver better value for money for the taxpayer,” said the spokesman.