Welfare Benefits

Our Welfare specialists are Forbes and Heather.

Welfare Benefits advice currently, (as at April 2017) is only available to GreenSquare Housing Tenants.

We have previously dealt with appeals against decisions on benefit entitlement as this involves the best use of resources in dealing with complex legal issues.

Wiltshire Law Centre specialised in giving advice and providing representation to those who wished to make an appeal against a decision about benefit entitlement such as ineligibility for Employment Support Allowance, a Jobseekers Allowance sanction or an overpayment of benefit. Appeals concerning eligibility for benefits for EU citizens’ living and working in Britain become more complex by the day

In November 2010, the Government published Proposals for the Reform of Legal Aid in England and Wales in which it announced that all work done under the category of welfare benefits would be removed from the scope of civil legal aid. Work undertaken in relation to welfare benefits was deemed to be of ‘low importance’.

Once appeals reach the first-tier tribunal, around 28% of unrepresented benefit claimants are successful on appeal, jumping to 90% for those who go with the support of a legal representative. This means that many more decisions by the Department for Work and Pensions would be overturned at appeal if claimants had sufficient access to representation.

We at Wiltshire Law Centre understand the importance of representation at benefit Tribunals and are therefore continuing to offer appeal tribunal representation pro bono, this means we receive no funding for our work. As part of her Training Contract, Heather is completing a seat in Welfare Law and is offering this service completely free of charge. As this is a pro bono service, we are only able to assist with tribunal appeals. If you are seeking generic benefits advice, please contact Citizen’s Advice.

Along with the cuts in specialist advice the government has brought in further significant reforms which have increasingly complicated an already complicated system. Appeal deadlines have been shortened and the method of appealing has been changed. The claimant must first request a Mandatory Reconsideration. Research has shown that nationally, appeals have dropped by 56% following the introduction of the new system. However the success rate at appeal remains the same.

One of our first actions in assisting a client making an appeal is often to provide a Food Voucher for the Swindon Foodbank, as many have nothing with which to provide the basic necessities.

Due to the lack of funding and legal aid cuts, we are currently only able to provide a service to tenants of GreenSquare Housing Group. We are pleased to say our Trainee Heather has just won her first Welfare Appeal Tribunal! Hopefully the first of many!

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