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Law Society and legal firm warn of "impacts" of cuts

20 October 2010

"Mature debate" is needed in light of the cuts announced in the UK Government’s comprehensive spending review, the Law Society of Scotland said today.

Responding to the Chancellor's statement, President of the Law Society of Scotland Jamie Millar said: “Much will depend on how the Scottish Government responds to the reduction in its block grant.

“However, there is little doubt that such significant cuts in public spending will impact the Scottish justice system and the public's access to that system.

“All of us in the justice sector must now work together in the public interest and enter into a mature debate on how best to deliver these required cuts in spending. There are no easy answers but the Law Society of Scotland is certainly ready to be part of that debate.”

Employment

Neil Maclean, head of employment at Shepherd and Wedderburn said: “The size and speed of the spending cuts announced by George Osborne, while not unexpected, will be challenging to implement for local authorities and public bodies.

“Staff costs make up most of their budgets and spending cuts will therefore necessitate job losses. Although there is no doubt that authorities will seek to implement job cuts by way of agreement, early retirement and the like, a significant number of compulsory redundancies will be inevitable. But redundancies – whether voluntary or compulsory – are not a zero cost option and take time to implement lawfully and fairly.  It remains to be seen whether the cuts announced by the Government can actually be delivered in practice within the timescales set.”

Shared services

Partner at Shepherd and Wedderburn, Lynne Scott, added: “In light of the spending review, and now faced with the reality of spending cuts, public sector organisations will be all the more focused on finding ways to generate significant savings and efficiencies.

“Shared services have been on the public sector's agenda for some time, but we are likely to see this now more from being an interesting concept – ‘a nice idea’ - to an essential part of organisations' strategies for seeing them through the next few years.

"And while the proposals for shared services models to date have generally been around administrative and back-office functions, it is likely that we will start to see more radical approaches to front-line services too. The Government's support (ensuring that the appropriate legal frameworks are in place and guidance is available) will be key in enabling organisations to take the brave decisions that shared services models require.”

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