The SLCC has opened a consultation on its budget and operating plan for 2021-22.
The consultation proposes a small reduction in the SLCC’s income and budget. The levy for solicitors, advocates, commercial attorneys, is proposed at the same level as in the previous year.*
The proposed levies will be reviewed again before a final levy is set. Potential variables this year are more significant than in previous years, and there are a number of factors which could influence a revised levy. One of those is likely complaint numbers, and we are seeking further information in this consultation on factors likely to impact transactions and consumer satisfaction.
The SLCC budget consultation was finalised before details of the Scottish budget and the public sector pay policy for 2021-22** were announced by Ministers this week. The proposed pay policy will lead to lower costs for the SLCC than the assumptions made in this budget. The SLCC will now analyse and assess the impact of this, and will consider adjustments to the proposed budget and levy on that basis, as well as in response to any consultation responses received.
The draft operating plan focuses on delivering and driving improvements in the SLCC’s complaint handling functions while supporting the legal sector to prevent the common causes of complaints. It also outlines the SLCC’s response to the changing landscape and working environment created by the impact of Covid-19. The SLCC has reviewed and refined its 2020-24 strategy to take account of this.
SLCC CEO Neil Stevenson said,
“The proposed budget is set to achieve the successful delivery of our core duties – managing complaints and awarding redress, monitoring trends and delivering guidance and best practice support to the sector. The positive impact of improvements and efficiencies, with the number of complaints we expect to see in the coming year, mean that we can propose a static levy.
“We commend the extraordinary efforts of many lawyers to keep cases and transactions moving for clients in the most difficult of circumstances. However, work for the SLCC has continued to arrive, and we need to play our part in ensuring that access to justice, in terms of our remit, is not hindered by the current situation.
“We welcomed the hugely helpful engagement with our requests for input on the impact of Covid-19 on transactions and potential complaint numbers. This has informed our projections, and we look forward to considering any further input to this consultation.
“We invite responses to the consultation on the draft budget, revised strategy and draft operating plan.”
SLCC Chair Jim Martin commented,
“I am immensely proud that the organisation responded swiftly to ensure we could continue to deliver our statutory functions efficiently and effectively in this year’s challenging circumstances, while continuing to focus on improvements to our processes. We continue to monitor and respond to the changing external environment, and to prepare for the changes still to come. Plans for this are set out in our refined strategy and our 2021-22 operating plan.
“As well as improving our current processes, we continue to support reforms that will fundamentally improve the complaints and wider regulatory system.”
The consultation is open until 18th March.
*Full details of general levies for different legal practitioners are in the draft budget.
** Full details of the pay policy are available here, and consultees may wish to respond on this issue.
Response should be by email to Consult@scottishlegalcomplaints.org.uk
The deadline for responses is 12:00 noon on Thursday 18th March 2021.