29 October 2012
Engagement with stakeholders is a key theme for Lord McNally and LSC figures at LAPG conference
Legal aid minister Lord McNally spoke about the importance of working closely with legal aid stakeholders to "make the most of the reformed system" at the annual conference of the Legal Aid Practitioners Group in London.
Lord McNally said: "I hope - whatever the disagreements of the past - we can all agree that the priority now is to look to the future."
Key areas where Lord McNally wants to see more progress include:
Importance of good working relations
The minister's views were echoed by LSC chair Sir Bill Callaghan who spoke at the same event. He stressed the importance of good working relations with stakeholders to help ensure a seamless transition to the new Legal Aid Agency.
Sir Bill said "engagement, talking to one another and listening" were the only way to deal with the inevitable tensions between a commissioning organisation like the LSC and stakeholders.
He added: That's why it is so encouraging that there has been such a sea change compared with two or three years ago in the way we work with each other."
There was further backing from LSC chief executive Matthew Coats who said: "I really value the close working relationship we have with the LAPG and find it particularly helpful to hear first hand from practitioners about their issues."
Preparing for the Legal Aid Agency
Looking forwards Sir Bill said that the next six months would be "very intense for staff at the LSC". The organisation would be carrying out preparatory work for the transition to the Legal Aid Agency during a very busy commissioning period.
Sir Bill added: "We are restructuring the organisation and establishing new ways of working to improve efficiency. We are downsizing and reducing admin costs by 23% over a three year period. And we have a big programme in place to improve our payment and processing work."