Jack Straw “frustrated” with legal aid failings
The Legal Services Commission (LSC) which administers the legal aid scheme in England and Wales is breathing its last gasp in its current form. Jack Straw, Secretary of State for Justice was quizzed about its inefficiences at the Justice Select Committee a couple of days ago and “made clear his frustrations”, according to The Times. The head of the LSC resigned last week amidst criticism in a National Audit Office report that his organisation was overstaffed, had poor financial controls in place, and faced various judicial review proceedings over its proposed reforms. Jack Straw indicated that the administration of legal aid will now come back under ministerial control, which seems to suggest it has been out of control for some time. But what does this mean for our legally aided clients? Hopefully a more joined up and collaborative policy in working with lawyers providing legal aid services and less hair brained ideas for reform. But we know that Government budget cuts are going to bite somewhere and the soft target of civil legal aid – for medical negligence, child abuse and human rights cases – is still in the firing line. So it is still a worrying time for all those who care about access to justice.