The Legal Ombudsman will reduce spending by a further £500,000 in the next financial year as the number of cases continues to fall.
Legal expenditure by the complaints-handler is due to be set at £11.7m for the 2016/17 year, down from £12.2m in the current year.
The spending level is almost 30% lower than the £16.7m spent in the 2012/13 financial year.
In a consultation on spending plans released today, the ombudsman said it has seen ‘significant and sustained’ reductions in the volume of complaints across almost all areas of legal activity.
In 2012/13, the service dealt with 7,360 cases, which rose to 8,055 the following year. In 2016/17 the anticipated caseload is set to be around 6,500.
Steve Green (pictured), chair of the Office for Legal Complaints, said cost savings will be made despite substantial change in the organisation in the last year, with the management structure redesigned and a new IT system introduced.
‘With legal services having to innovate more than ever before to ensure that people still have access to justice, it is right that we should do our bit to keep costs low while maintaining the quality of our service,’ he added.
The ombudsman started accepting complaints about claims management companies last year and is expected to deal with around 2,000 cases of this sort in 2016/17. Expenditure, which is paid for by CMCs, will rise from £2m to £2.1m and will continue to be ring-fenced from spending related to law firms.
To cover the legal spending, solicitors will contribute £10.7m in levies, with the remaining £1m coming from case fee income.
Staff levels will be reduced during 2015/16 through ‘natural turnover’, the consultation added.
The ombudsman confirmed the Ministry of Justice assumed accounting officer status throughout 2015/16 following the departure of the previous chief ombudsman and chief executive officer Adam Sampson. It is unclear whether this will continue next year.
The consultation will remain open until the end of this month.