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ACSO responds to the Legal Ombudsman 2023/24 Budget and Business Plan

Posted on Wed, 14/12/2022

The Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO) has responded to the Legal Ombudsman Service (LeO) consultation on its business plan and budget for 2023/24.

Cara Elliott, policy and public affairs advisor at ACSO, said: "As recognised in the consultation document, LeO is behind the trajectory of performance improvement and recovery that it set for itself. The focus on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the scheme is to be commended, yet there remain many significant challenges that the service needs to overcome, including long waiting times and an increase in the backlog of complaints."

Regarding the second proposed objective, ACSO is "supportive of LeO's priority which aims to ensure the success of the new Scheme Rules, while prioritising efficiency, quality and accessibility. As mentioned in our previous submission, LeO must commit to reviewing regularly the new rules to ensure changes have not adversely affected complainants and legal service providers. Regular review of its function should consult legal services providers and consumers alike to ensure the system remains accessible and functional."

On the proposed budget, "given the inflationary environment in which all organisations are operating, it is understandable that a significant increase in the budget has been proposed, although it is worth noting that inflation is not, as suggested, at a record high. Year-end inflation was higher in seven of the years from the period 1974-1981, for example. It is, however, not unwelcome to see increases in the amount awarded to some areas such as 'Service Improvement and Quality' given the current backlogs. 

It is essential that LeO ensures consumer needs underpin each of the objectives in order to improve access to justice and consumer empowerment. A heightened focus on the needs and experiences of vulnerable consumers will go some way to ensuring a universally positive consumer experience."

Finally, "while substantial challenges exist, we are confident that LeO is moving in the right direction. Many of the performance strategies, along with its upcoming implementation of the new Scheme Rules, will go some way to making a positive difference. We hope to see the benefits of LeO's innovation work and wider improvement initiatives come to fruition over the course of the upcoming year."

ACSO members can download the full consultation submission from the members' area of the ACSO website.