The Legal Services Board (LSB) has launched a consultation on a draft strategy for the legal services sector and is inviting others to say how they will also contribute to reshaping legal services to better meet the needs of society.
The strategy follows the publication of LSB’s State of Legal Services 2020 report last month. It reflected on ten years of independent regulation and concluded although there have been achievements over the last decade, there remain significant levels of unmet legal need.
The proposed strategy reflects that the significant challenges facing the sector can only be tackled by people and organisations working together in pursuit of a common agenda. It sets a ten-year strategic direction, and to galvanise action the LSB has suggested nine priority areas of focus in 2021-24. Those areas include:
- Lowering unmet legal need across large parts of society.
- Dismantling barriers to a diverse and inclusive profession at all levels
- Closing gaps in consumer protection.
- Supporting responsible use of technology that commands public trust.
Successfully meeting the challenges identified requires additional resources for regulatory activity. The LSB is also consulting on a proposed business plan for 2021-22 and a provisional annual budget for 2021-22 of £4.098m. This represents an increase of £175k (4.4%) on the 2020/21 budget of £3.923m.
The LSB’s strategy and business plan have been developed following an extensive programme of stakeholder engagement and in response to views obtained from ordinary members of the public. New areas of work in the business plan include:
- Understanding the size and scale of the unregulated market.
- Promoting a more strategic approach to meeting the needs of citizens in vulnerable circumstances.
- Considering how to better enable small businesses to access legal support.
Dr Helen Phillips, Chair of the Legal Services Board, said:
“This draft strategy reflects the challenges outlined in our recently published State of Legal Services 2020 report and is the culmination of many conversations and extensive research. It is also informed by feedback from members of the public and is focused on ensuring the market works better for consumers and businesses.
“Ensuring success will require people and organisations to work together and unite around this shared purpose. The LSB has laid out the areas in which we can make a difference, and we invite others to say how they can contribute. By collaborating, we can ensure that citizens who need legal help can easily compare services and choose a provider that meets their needs and suits their budget. We can create a more diverse legal services sector that is trusted by everyone and build a market that supports innovation and commands public confidence. Together, we can reshape legal services to better meet the needs of society.
“We recognise that Covid-19 has increased financial pressures on some parts of the sector, and we thought very hard when producing our draft budget. We believe that we need to support this jurisdiction to maintain its international standing when the pandemic is over. This is all the more important as the UK moves closer to leaving the EU.
“Covid-19 has also created challenges for people who need legal services, and one of our new programmes of work is focussed on vulnerable consumers. It is right that we invest in tackling these issues and widen access to justice.”
The consultation closes on 5 February 2021.
- Consultation document [PDF]
- Draft Strategy for the Legal Services Sector [PDF]
- Draft Business Plan 2021-22 [PDF]
Notes to Editor
- The LSB’s costs are financed 100% through a statutory levy on approved regulators.
- The proposed increase of £175k (4.4%) for 2021-22 equates to an additional £1 on practising certificate fees per authorised person. The budget that the LSB is consulting on is 17% lower than at its peak in 2010-11 (unadjusted for inflation). It is also in line with the LSB’s budget in 2017-18 in real terms (inflation adjusted).