Solicitors’ contribution to funding the Legal Services Board has fallen by 32% over the past five years, the super-regulator said today, promising to reduce its running costs by £300,000 this year.
Introducing the 2016/17 business plan, LSB chair Sir Michael Pitt (pictured) says the board’s operating budget will be £3.99m – a £300,000 reduction from last year’s budget and a ‘further £150,000 reduction’ from the budget proposed in the draft plan. It claims that this amounts to less than £22 per regulated lawyer.
Activities for the year ahead include championing the contribution that frontline regulators can make to increasing diversity. 'We will also be reviewing the 2011 guidance to regulators on gathering an evidence base about diversity.'
As part of efforts 'to break down regulatory barriers to competition, innovation and growth', the board says it will report on the information that regulators publish about their costs and ask regulators to improve the quality and transparency of data.
It will also analyse investment in the legal sector. ‘We wish to identify current sources of capital and establish how the investor community views the market and any barriers to investment,’ the LSB says.
To ensure legal services can be met more effectively, the board will ask the Legal Services Consumer Panel ‘to provide advice on the effectiveness of current information remedies in legal services regulation and how these could be improved’.
It will also commission research ‘to evidence the experience of consumers in a range of vulnerable circumstances with different legal services providers’.
‘Alongside primary research, we will continue to use our evaluation framework to monitor the impacts of regulation on the legal services market, building on the full market evaluation undertaken during 2015/16,’ the board says.
Pitt said the board would be ‘scoping’ its work ‘tightly’ and ‘scale back or pause’ on some pieces of work proposed in the draft business plan.
‘In doing so, we have been careful to make sure we have the capacity to respond to the range of external initiatives that will help shape this sector including the Competition and Markets Authority market study into the legal services sector, and the government’s forthcoming consultation on independence in regulation and reducing regulatory barriers so that new entrants can provide legal advice.’