Who is in charge of the asylum?
The Legal Services Commission’s Jarrow office now routinely mislays correspondence or fails to deal with it for weeks on end. Telephone calls take over 20 minutes to be answered. Even a complaint sent by recorded delivery is not acted upon. The latest horror, however, does take some believing.
The commission periodically writes to clients to review their financial position by asking for a means form to be completed, followed by a threatening letter that the legal aid will be stopped if the form is not returned. A client who suffers from a severe psychiatric condition received such correspondence. Notwithstanding that she did return the means form within days of it being requested, four weeks later she received a ‘notice to show cause’ why her legal aid should not be stopped, the covering letter stating ‘you have failed to return a completed means assessment form’.
On enquiry, the commission confirmed that the requisite form had indeed been received, but the ‘notice to show cause’ had been triggered because the office had not got around to dealing with the correspondence received from her ‘due to a backlog’. Apart from the worry and upset that the LSC is causing to often vulnerable individuals, in these dire economic times the waste of public money caused by the generation of these utterly futile notices to clients who have diligently complied with its requirements is an absolute disgrace.
Will anyone from the LSC take the opportunity to avail themselves of your letters page, to take responsibility for this shambolic state of affairs?
Clive Booth, CW Booth & Co, Bishop Auckland
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