Article from John Harris in the Guardian asking where is the anger over what is happening to benefits
"This cruel welfare system is steadily crushing lives – where is the anger?No one seems to be concerned that hugely profitable private firms are forcing thousands into borderline destitution
John Harris guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 3 July 2012 08.30 BST Comments
The former chair of A4e, Emma Harrison, 'who last year paid herself a dividend of £8.6m'. Photograph: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian If you want a sobering flavour of where Britain is heading, set aside banking, the Leveson inquiry, our relationship with Europe and whatever else – and consider a Guardian story by Patrick Butler that appeared last week. It was about food banks, the charitable set-ups that supply emergency parcels to people who have fallen between society's cracks. FareShare, a charity that sits at the heart of all this, says it is experiencing "ridiculous growth" in demand, and expects that trend to continue for at least five years; over the last 12 months, it claims to have sent out 8.6m meals.
Spend any time around a food bank – and I have, in Inverness and Liverpool – and it quickly becomes clear that their core constituency is based around two groups of people: refugees who have either recently arrived in the UK or opted to go underground; and people who have suddenly had their benefits stopped.
Thanks to the increasingly cruel regime that now applies to benefits – which, we now know, David Cameron wants to make yet crueller – the latter seem to be increasing in number by the week, pushed into their predicament by a system that can summarily ruin lives, but offer only the most sluggish remedies by way of appeal. By and large, they remain invisible, but their fate is starting to intrude on the news media: last week, a man set himself alight outside a Birmingham jobcentre, reportedly thanks to a "dispute over benefit payments", an episode that occurred just as the Guardian was revealing rising concerns about suicides among people faced with so-called benefits "sanctions"....................."
Post by StephenMichael on Aug 22, 2012 9:19:40 GMT
Just had an interesting meeting with our contract manager regarding the end of the contract in March next year. He says they have heard nothing about issuing the notice terminating our contracts that they will have to issue 6 months beforehand. Also they have heard nothing about whether welfare benefits in any form will be kept in scope.
Does anyone have any news or rumour about these issues?
Proposal seems to be Government has decided on an approach which would involve providing legal aid for advice and assistance in those First Tier Tribunal welfare benefit cases where the First Tier Tribunal has itself identified an error in law in its own decision under rule 39 of the Tribunal Procedure (First-tier Tribunal) (Social Entitlement Chamber) rules 2008. That is you are starting the process of applying for leave to appeal against a tribunal decision. This is not what was expected from Mr Clarke and is very restrictive to nothing more than appealing to upper tribunal where an error of law has been identified. Mr Clarke meanwhile has issued a back me or sack me approach to King Cam in the reshuffle.
Presumably such issues will have to proceed via the new telephone gateway who will act as gatekeepers; any referrals from there would be limited to one or two service providers because limited numbers make it non-viable otherwise. Would the gateway provide its own back-up service for this?
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Aug 23, 2012 20:39:12 GMT
This can only be viewed as a deliberate attempt by Ken Clarke and his merry men to get as far away as possible from what the concession was originally aimed at. The history of amendment 168 in LASPO was well catalogued on Mylegal and received substantial support in the House of Lords. When it returned to the Commons it was aimed at the substantial need of legal advice in relation to proceedings in the FTT. Tom Brake then pushed the amendment and withdrew it on a 'promise' by Ken Clarke to consider it carefully in the regulatory stages.
What does Clarke come up with?
Regulation 39 of the procedural rules?
Tribunal’s consideration of application for permission to appeal
39.—(1) On receiving an application for permission to appeal the Tribunal must first consider, taking into account the overriding objective in rule 2, whether to review the decision in accordance with rule 40 (review of a decision).
(2) If the Tribunal decides not to review the decision, or reviews the decision and decides to take no action in relation to the decision, or part of it, the Tribunal must consider whether to give permission to appeal in relation to the decision or that part of it.
(3) The Tribunal must send a record of its decision to the parties as soon as practicable.
(4) If the Tribunal refuses permission to appeal it must send with the record of its decision—
(a)a statement of its reasons for such refusal; and
(b)notification of the right to make an application to the Upper Tribunal for permission to appeal and the time within which, and the method by which, such application must be made.
(5) The Tribunal may give permission to appeal on limited grounds, but must comply with paragraph (4) in relation to any grounds on which it has refused permission.
Ken Clarke is either being deliberately obstructive or is just being plain ignorant over the constructive value of granting legal aid at this juncture in the proceedings. He knows very well that amendment 169 was passed for legal aid in the Upper Tribunal whereas 168 related to FTT proceedings. How is it remotely helpful to grant legal aid on a concession relating to FTT proceedings (which was the subject of the debate) when regulation 39 only applies once the FTT proceedings have been concluded? All regulation 39 addresses is what happens after the proceedings have taken place.
Regulation 39 is contained within (PART 4) of the Procedural rules and relates to the correcting, setting aside, reviewing and appealing of [First - Tier Tribunal] decisions
The whole purpose in the concessionary 'promise' was to determine the need for legal aid in FTT proceedings prior to them having taken place. I'll be covering some sensible remedies over on Mylegal in the near future, it's time Ken Clarke woke up and started to realise he presides over the distribution of justice rather than this government's wilful denial of access to the same in disputing a huge number of erroneous decisions reached by the Secretary of State.
Clarke's proposal is next to useless in its practical application,not least because FTT's are understandably naturally reluctant to concede to admitting their own error. As I see it regulation 39 of the procedural rules only has a relevance to amendment 169 (in its original form) and none whatsoever to amendment 168, it therefore does nothing at all to plug the gap which the concessionary promise was intended to fill.
Isn't it strange that according to Ken Clarke no 'points of law' exist within the FTT yet we've just applied for and been granted 3 out of 3 adjournment applications on a legal argument over what we see as flawed legislation relating to the conversion regulations relating to IB to ESA migration? These are all now subject to directions for the DWP to respond to the substantial points raised. Why doesn't Ken Clarke come to a FTT and see what actually goes on, perhaps he may learn they are not just cosy chat rooms aimed at debating a few simple generalist questions aimed at determining an appellant's lawful entitlement?
CLS news Amendment to the Legal Aid: Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act
18 September 2012
Amendment in relation to welfare benefits advice
In a Written Ministerial Statement published on 18 September, the Government announced the legal aid position on welfare benefits advice.
What welfare benefits work will be covered by legal aid after April 2013?
Appeals to the First-tier Tribunal in Social Security and Child Support for all welfare benefits cases (including housing benefits, war pensions, State pensions, vaccine damage payments or similar benefits) where the Tribunal reviews its own decision because there has been an error in law; and
Appeals on a point of law to the Upper Tribunal and onwards appeals on a point of law to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.
All other welfare benefits work, previously delivered under the 2010 Civil Standard Contract, will not be covered by legal aid from 1 April 2013.
Due to the timing of this amendment to welfare benefits advice, there is not enough time to run a full tender for new face-to-face welfare benefits contracts to start from 1 April 2013 - and the volume of welfare benefits work remaining in scope will be small.
Therefore, the Legal Services Commission (LSC) will run a tender for face-to-face welfare benefits contracts that will start on 1 October 2013.
The LSC will also adopt an interim approach to ensure that there is continued service provision of welfare benefits advice from 1 April 2013 until the start of the new face-to-face welfare benefits contracts.
The LSC will provide further updates on our approach to delivering welfare benefits advice post April 2013 in due course. For more information
Emma Boniface, Service Development, Legal Services Commission.