National Updates Archive

Campaign to end the freeze to Local Housing Allowance
Stand up for the million renters facing homelessness.  A million households in Britain could be at risk of homelessness by 2020, unless a freeze on housing benefit is lifted. Read full article

PLP’s Project on Benefit Sanctioning
The Public Law Project (PLP) is undertaking a three year project to develop a strategic legal response to the national issue of benefit sanctioning.  As part of that work, theyare carrying out research to gather evidence of the impact of sanctioning on disabled people. This research is being carried out by Shivani Misra who is an intern at PLP. Shivani can be contacted on 020 7239 9034 or  Click here for a copy of the project's questionnaire for benefit advisers and here for a copy of the project's questionnaire for claimants.  Read full article

Shelter Debt Advice for Debt Advisers Team
From Monday 2 October, Shelter will provide debt advisers with free, specialist debt advice.  This service is a continuation of the Expert Debt Advice service that is currently being delivered by Citizen’s Advice.  As with the Citizen’s Advice service, Shelter will offer specialist help to guide advisers through complex and challenging debt cases.  The service is funded by the Money Advice Service and will be available by phone as well as online through the Shelter website.  From 2 October, you can reach the new service by calling 03300 580404, or by visiting Read full article

New early support for children with mental health problems
Norfolk’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, which is jointly led by Norfolk County Council and the county’s five clinical commissioning groups, has designed the new service, which will link directly with schools and children’s centres.  It will bring more specialist mental health workers, improve existing services and be used to improve on-line support and reduce stigma around mental health.  The new link service will give schools and children’s centres extra advice and support via a dedicated link worker scheme.  It will see five link workers, one in each of CCG area, working directly with schools to offer advice, support and training on mental health issues. Read full article

Making Every Adult Matter report 'Multiple Needs'
Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM) coalition has published its report 'Multiple Needs: Time for Political leadership', which sets out the scale of the challenge around multiple needs (homelessness, substance misuse, mental ill health and persistently high re-offending rates) and the action that government must take in response. Read full article

Final Bach Commission report on Access to Justice
The Bach Commission has published its final report on Access to Justice declaring that we live at a time when the rule of law is under attack. The Commissions recommendations are a Right to Justice Act and the adoption a range of policies covering: universally accessible advice, reform of the legal aid, replacement of the Legal Aid Agency, reduction of administrative burdens for providers and public, action to ensure the continued viability of the legal aid profession and better public legal education in schools. Read full article

Inclusive Economic Partnership Funding
The Inclusive Economic Partnership is offering funding and support for the scaling of existing, high potential solutions that focus on tackling the challenges of Financial Inclusion and Capability, Mental Health and Transition to Work, particularly for low to middle income households. Read full article

Delivering on Universal Credit
Citizens Advice have released a report on the roll out and the potential financial risk to 7 million households. Read full article

New family migration guidance published by the Home Office
The Home Office has published new guidance on family migration to the UK. The document covers: - Entry clearance requirements - Leave to remain requirements - Indefinite leave to remain requirements The guidance is to be used by decision makers considering whether to grant leave on a 5-year route to settlement following a valid application for entry clearance (or leave to enter) or leave to remain on the basis of family life as a partner or parent in accordance with the immigration rules. Please follow this link to access the guidance in full: Read full article

Fund to help women set up a new home after family breakdown
Please note the Eaton Fund offers contributions to women in the UK setting up a new home after family breakdown. Read full article

Birmingham Study of litigants in Person
A study of litigants in person in Birmingham Civil Justice Centre by Birmingham City University.  Conclusions include that LIPs:tend to be people poorly placed to access information or assistance and to represent themselves in court; were positive often about the court appearance regarding judicial management of the case; were less enamoured with the lawyers appearing against them; struggle to find the right source of information;  Read full article

Support of last resort
The safety net that local welfare schemes provide is stretched to breaking point. For families who are homeless, or facing homelessness, this support is vital to making a new start. Ideas of what makes a 'home' can be severely tested if families are forced to go without basic household goods like a cooker, fridge, carpets or curtains. This briefing from Shelter looks at alternative ways to support families so that a financial crisis does not become a disaster. Read full article

Webinar: Homelessness and Housing Allocations
Hosted by LawWorks CEO, Martin Barnes and delivered by Angus King, Solicitor at Lambeth Law Centre and Ian Peacock of Arden Chambers, the webinar covers the legal issues to address when a person applies to the local authority to be housed and the criteria set out in local allocations policies, including housing options and prevention of homelessness duties. Read full article

Gingerbread guidance regarding Tax Credits
Gingerbread have produced some guidance regarding Tax Credits if a family already has two or more children and then has another child born on or after 6th April 2017 then they will not usually be able to claim child tax credits for that child, or any other children they have after this date. There are some exemptions to this rule. It’s very important for parents to check their situation and see whether they could claim an exemption - online advice includes an overview of the new policy, outlines each exemption, and provides details of where to go for more detailed advice and information. Read full article

SMI will be a loan from 2018
Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) is intended to help people with the cost of their mortgage if they aren’t working. SMI has been given as a benefit so far, but from April 2018, it will only be given as a loan.SMI has been an important part of the UK benefits system since it was introduced in 1948. It only helps with the interest part of the mortgage repayments, not the capital. Read full article

Foodbanks Report Highlights Impact of Welfare Changes
This report, authored by two sociologists at the University of Oxford, is based on a large-scale survey of food bank users; the survey was co-funded by the ESRC and the Trussell Trust. The findings of the report underline how welfare changes have disproportionately affected working-age people with disabilities.  The report found that about 39 per cent of food bank users were awaiting the outcome of a benefit application; of these, 19.2 per cent said they had been waiting for seven or more weeks Read full article

The Legal Education Foundation project legal problems & health
Professor Dame Hazel Genn is to continue ground breaking research into the value of integrating legal advice in health settings for promoting health and wellbeing with the support of new funding from the Legal Education Foundation (The LEF). Read full article

JRF Video on Poverty, evictions and forced moves
More than 100 families a day were evicted from their homes in 2015 – 40,000 tenants in total. This is an increase of a third since 2003.In this video, Brian Robson explains what has caused this rapid rise in evictions, and what the Government can do about it. Read full article

Migration Advisory Committee - call for evidence
The government has commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to advise on the economic and social impacts of the UK’s exit from the European Union and also on how the UK’s immigration system should be aligned with a modern industrial strategy.  Read full article

Immediate hardship payments for homeless JSA claimants
From October 2017, Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants who are homeless will have immediate access to hardship payments if their benefit is reduced because of a sanction. Read full article

CPAG's Advice Service for Advisers
CPAG gives advice about welfare benefits and tax credits to professional advisers.  They have launched a new universal credit email advice service for advisers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Read full article

Budgeting Loan Applications - Message from Regional DWP
Historically, September to December is a peak time of year for Budgeting loan applications, seeing a surge in the volume of claims. Although does give the option to complete a clerical claim this can take longer to be processed rather than an on-line application.   Where the application has been made online, the customer will be told whether they have been offered a loan within 15 working days, and where the loan offer is accepted, money will be received within 11 working days. DWP asks partners to encourage customers to use the on-line application wherever possible Read full article

ILPA – Brexit information factsheets
Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association (ILPA) – Brexit information factsheets now available ILPA has produced a series of information sheets, each providing a short and accessible overview of EU rights of residence and the issues affecting citizens from European Economic Area and from Switzerland and their family members living in the UK in the context of Brexit. Read full article

Bar Standards Board - new guidance for the public and for prof
The Bar Standards Board has published two new guidance documents on immigration and asylum issues.  Read full article

New Snapchat feature which allows users to ‘stalk’ people
Police have issued a warning about a new location-sharing feature in Snapchat, a mobile phone app. The EDP reports a statement on Facebook from South Norfolk Police saying: “It has been brought to our attention that Snapchat have introduced a new feature called Snap Maps. Snap Maps can allow you to ‘stalk’ people in real time and enables you to see what a friend is doing, along with where they are. Therefore this poses a great danger to children and adults alike. The only way to use this and prevent this from happening is to put Snapchat into ghost mode so that you are not visible.”  Read full article

Videos to help people prepare for the family courts
The Litigant in Person Network have posted links to five films produced by Barrister Lucy Reed, Law for Life and Rights of Women to help litigants in person in family court proceedings. They include information on preparing for your first court hearing, the hearing itself, giving evidence and challenging evidence, simple tips for putting a case across as well as possible and the ways the courts can help make the process safer. Read full article

Living standards squeeze tightens despite pay rises & tax cuts
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation's latest annual report, A Minimum Income Standard for the UK in 2017, shows how families on low incomes are getting worse off because of the rising cost of living and the benefits freeze. The research suggests this trend is likely to continue unless the freeze in support is lifted and people can keep more of what they earn. Read the report and their recommendations to the Government. Read full article

The government needs to pause rolling out Universal Credit
Citizens Advice are calling on the government to pause the Universal Credit roll-out and fix the problems with its design and delivery. They have idenfitied 3 significant problems that need fixing right now: People are waiting up to 12 weeks for their first payment without any income, Universal Credit is too complicated and people are struggling to use it, People aren’t getting help when the system fails them. Read full article

CPAG's Advice Service for Advisers
CPAG gives advice about welfare benefits and tax credits to professional advisers. They have launched a new universal credit email advice service for advisers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The service is designed to supplement CPAG's Handbooks, telephone advice service, and online information. It will also provide CPAG with case examples of problem areas which they can use in our policy and campaigns work. Read full article

Government announces draft Domestic Violence & Abuse Bill
In the Queen's Speech, delivered on 21st June, the Government has committed to bringing forward legislation "to protect the victims of domestic violence and abuse". Briefing notes produced by the Government on the announcements in the Queen's Speech state that the purpose of the Bill is to "transform our approach to domestic violence and abuse to ensure that victims have the confidence to come forward and report their experiences, safe in the knowledge that the state and justice system will do everything it can to both support them and their children, and pursue their abuser." Read full article

Law Society recommendations for Civil justice
Law Gazette, 29.06.2017
The Law Society is calling for a root-and-branch overhaul of civil legal aid provision to help repair the damage inflicted by deep cuts four years ago. In a report published today, Chancery Lane says spending and eligibility curbs implemented through the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 have denied justice to the vulnerable, created chaos in the courts and shifted costs to other state agencies - including the NHS. The Society also urges the new government to get on with the post-implementation review of LASPO set in train earlier this year by now departed justice minister Sir Oliver Heald. The review was aborted by the general election. Read their recommendations here. Read full article

Benefit cap on lone parents of under-twos is unlawful
Guardian, 22.06.2017
The government’s policy of imposing the benefit cap on tens of thousands of lone parents with children under the age of two is unlawful, discriminatory and has resulted in “real damage” to the families affected, the high court has ruled. The benefit cap, which limits the total amount households can receive in benefits to £20,000 a year, or £23,000 in Greater London, was envisaged as an “incentive” to persuade unemployed people to move into work. Read full article

Small grants available from Buttle UK
In collaboration with the BBC Children In Need Emergency Essentials Programme, Buttle UK provide swift support worth up to around £300 for families or young people living in crisis. They can deliver or fund critical household items such as cookers, fridges and other essential household items.  Read full article

Housing Benefit entitlement: renting from relatives
This Commons Library briefing paper explains how entitlement to Housing Benefit may be affected when a claimant is renting from a close relative. Read full article

Housing costs in Universal Credit
This Commons Library briefing paper explains the key differences between assistance with housing costs under the Housing Benefit regime and under UC. The paper considers evidence of the impact of claiming housing costs under UC to date and the 2015 Government’s response. Read full article

Unaffordable Employment Tribunal Fees
Legal Voice, 07.06.2017
In a letter to the Times, Caspar Glyn QC complained about Theresa May ‘trumpeting’ new employment rights for workers when all rights ('new and old’) were ‘locked up behind an unaffordable pay wall of employment tribunal fees costing between £390 and £1200’. ‘In truth these rights are almost wholly illusory,’ he argued. ‘The low pay father seeking to enforce unpaid leave to care for his sick son, the cleaner trying to recover a few hundred pounds in minimum wages and the expectant mother who is discriminated against during her maternity leave simply cannot afford these steep tribunal fees.’ Read full article

Solving Poverty
Dr Emma Stone, Director of Policy and Research at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation writes for Guy's & St Thomas' Charity about the role that hospitals and other health services can play in solving poverty in their community. She discusses how Health practitioners are well placed to direct people to the most appropriate source of support to meet their needs and about thinking beyond health, for example signposting to advice on benefits, debt, family and relationship support. Read full article

How do the general election manifestos tackle UK poverty?
After the election, the Government needs to get to grips with poverty. Chris Goulden, Joseph Rowntree Foundation's Deputy Director of Policy and Research, takes a look at the new general election manifestos from the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats and how they address UK poverty. Read full article

British Red Cross report – Can’t stay. Can’t go.
Refused asylum seekers who have no appeal outstanding are considered to have no basis to stay in the UK. They are expected to make arrangements to leave the UK. However, not all of them can return home. For some, there are no direct flight routes into their country, others are stateless – their country refuses to recognise them as a citizen, and some people simply cannot get a travel document in order to return. If option of going back to their country of origin is not open to everyone, this leaves them stuck in the UK, living in limbo. The report found that many risk falling into crisis. By remaining in the UK for extended periods of time, without support, they are vulnerable to exploitation. Read full article

Legal Aid: what the manifestos say
The major parties have now published their manifestos for the forthcoming general election. The 'Legal Aid Handbook' has set out what the manifestos have to say about legal aid. Read their blog here. Read full article

Refugees Welcome? The Experience of New Refugees in the UK
This report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees examines the provisions for new refugees during and after the move-on period. It examines the issues faced by new refugees in terms of housing, health and employment. The report also makes comparisons between provision for refugees who have come via the asylum route and those who have come via a resettlement programme. They recommend that a Minister for Refugees should be appointed to oversee a National Refugee Integration Strategy. Read full article

Impact of homelessness & bad housing on health & social care
Shelter’s Policy Manager has published a new blog based on two reports published last week on the impact of homelessness and bad housing on health and social care. The first report is by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and Child Poverty Action Group and the second report is by the Guys and St Thomas’ Charity. The blog also touches on the new Clinical Commissioning Groups duties and the use of ‘housing prescriptions’. It calls for this week’s political manifestos to tackle the health and social care crisis by prioritising investment in tackling our housing crisis.  Read full article

Mapping the risks of working-age poverty across Great Britain
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation have mapped the risks of working-age poverty across Great Britain, looking at out-of-work benefits, in-work tax credits, low pay and skill levels to provide a constituency-level snapshot of where high levels of working-age poverty are most likely to exist. Read full article

Two child limit - exceptions guidance
The government has published further information on the exceptions to the two child limit, which applies to a third or subsequent child born on or after 6 April 2017. This includes a form for the claimant to complete if the exception applies and guidance for professionals who are required to provide supporting evidence. Only registered social workers can provide evidence for the ‘informal care’ exception. There is a list of approved professionals who can provide evidence in connection with the ‘non-consensual conception’ exception. Read full article

Useful online complaints tool
Resolver, in association with is a useful online complaints tool. It provides information on consumer rights and the complaints process and has letter and email templates for making a complaint. Read full article

PIP Mandatory Reconsideration Request Letter Tool
Advice UK have a Mandatory Reconsideration Request Letter Tool on their website. It is designed to make it easier for people to ask the DWP to look again at their decision about a claim for PIP. You have to ask the DWP to look at their decision again (called a ‘mandatory reconsideration’) before you can appeal. If the DWP don’t change their decision, you can appeal. Read full article

Hate crime: abuse, hate and extremism online
The Home Affairs Committee have published their report 'Hate crime: abuse, hate and extremism online'. The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee (HAC) announced this inquiry into hate crime and its violent consequences in early July 2016. It was set up after the murder of Jo Cox MP in June in the lead-up to the EU referendum. Read full article

New guidelines on intimidatory offences and domestic abuse
Public consultation - the Sentencing Council has published proposed new guidelines for how people convicted of intimidatory offences and offences involving domestic abuse should be sentenced. The intimidatory offences guideline covers harassment, stalking, disclosing private sexual images, controlling or coercive behaviour, and threats to kill. The 13-week consultation runs until 30 June 2017. Read full article

New report on modern slavery
The House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee launched an inquiry examining the Department for Work and Pensions' policies and processes in relation to recognised victims of modern slavery and to asses potential changes in policy after Brexit. The committed published its 12th Report - Victims of modern slavery on 30 April 2017. Read full article

The impact of housing problems on mental health
Shelter has released a new report revealing that millions of people in England have suffered a deterioration in their mental health in the last five years because of housing problems, and as a result, many have sought help from their GPs. The report is based on interviews with GPs and a survey of 3,500 adults, about the mental health impact of housing problems.  Read full article

Universal Credit and Discretionary Housing Payments
The DWP has received a number of enquiries recently over the use of Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) to support claimants with housing costs on Universal Credit. HB Bulletin G12/2016 has been re-issued updating the guidance and Q&A.The reason for the revision is the Department does not see any legal reason why a Discretionary Housing Payment cannot be paid to Universal Credit claimants who have Managed Payments to their Landlord in place.  Read full article

Universal Credit: a briefing
Joseph Rowntree Foundation have published a briefing which provides information and evidence on the latest developments as Universal Credit rolls out across the UK. It provides recommendations on how the system could be improved. Read full article

Prisons and Courts Bill
This month the Prisons and Courts Bill began its passage through the House of Commons. The Prison Reform Trust have been analysing what implications the bill will have for people in prison, the wider system, and what they believe is missing. Read full article

Eligibility for Legal Aid and Universal Credit
A consultation called ‘Legal aid financial eligibility and universal credit’ is now open and the deadline for responses is 11 May 2017. The proposals seek to amend the legal aid financial eligibility system to accommodate the expansion of universal credit. The goverment state that the intention behind the proposals is to limit any additional burden on the legal aid budget rather than cutting costs. Read full article

UC reforms to force 200,000 children into poverty
LocalGov, 06.04.2017
New cuts limiting Universal Credit to the first two children in a family will affect at least 850,000 families, of whom about two thirds are working, according to the Child Poverty Action Group. Research by the group with the Institute for Public Policy Research shows the reforms will push another 200,000 children below the official poverty line. The biggest group affected will be working families with three children, who will miss out on up to £2,780 per year. Read full article

DWP PIP Defeat
Benefits and Work, 29.03.2017
The DWP have argued that a claimant can only score points for being unsafe if harm is likely to occur on more than 50% of the occasions on which they attempt an activity. This is an almost impossibly harsh test, as is shown by the thousands of claimants with epilepsy who are having their payments removed entirely on being switched from DLA to PIP. On 9th March, however, a panel of Upper Tribunal judges rejected the DWP’s 50% rule. Read full article

Voluntary Right to Buy for housing association tenants
House of Commons Library, 27.03.2017
This House of Commons Library briefing explains proposals to extend the Right to Buy to assured tenants of housing associations on a voluntary basis. No implementation date for full roll-out has been announced. A large regional pilot scheme is planned for 2017/18. Read full article

Mental Capacity Act - scenarios for training
Safeguarding adults leads from across NHS England - Midlands and East (East) have helped developed a Mental Capacity Act (MCA) Workbook and film clips which are now available on the SCIE website.  Read full article

MoJ survey finds vulnerable ‘face multiple legal problems'
The Law Society Gazette, 06.03.2017
Vulnerable people - those living with a disability, as lone parents or on less than £15,000 a year - are more likely to experience multiple legal problems than others, according to a major government study slipped into the public domain a year late. The findings, published on Friday afternoon, point to a crisis in access to justice following legal aid reforms. Read full article

Changes to the PIP eligibility criteria
This Commons Library briefing looks at controversial proposals put forward by the Government to change the eligibility criteria for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) from 16 March 2017, to reverse the effect of two recent Upper Tribunal judgments. Read full article

Universal Credit rollout: Inquiry re-launched
Following compelling evidence of the problems in the rollout of Universal Credit in its recent follow ups, the Work and Pensions Commitee has re-launched its inquiry and is now accepting written submissions. Please, if you have any contribution to make to their findings, send them details of what you know. This may be our best opportunity to get some changes. The deadline is 20 March 2017. Read full article

Budgeting Loan – Paper form now online
Department of Work & Pensions, 01.03.2017
Customers can now apply for Budgeting Loans on GOV.UK using the new online application service. Budgeting Loans are interest free loans that can help to pay for essential items like furniture, clothes, moving costs or hire purchase debts. Customers can apply for a loan if they have been receiving Income Support, income-based Jobseekers Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or Pension Credit for at least 6 months. Read full article

Health and Social Care Integration
House of Commons Library, 24.02.2017
This House of Commons briefing paper analyses recent policy and debate on the integration of NHS-provided healthcare and local authority-provided social care. This has been a key policy priority for successive Governments, with the aim of improving patient care and saving money for the NHS and local authorities. Read full article

MoJ to relax LASPO domestic violence regime
The Guardian, 23.02.2017
Time limits preventing vulnerable victims of domestic violence from obtaining legal aid for court hearings are to be scrapped, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) will announce. The widely criticised rules meant victims seeking legal representation in disputed family court hearings, where they could be forced to confront their abuser, had to demonstrate that they had been targeted within the past five years. Legal Aid Agency regulations also specified that a narrow range of official documents provide proof, such as medical reports, injunctions and social services records. Statements from organisations working with domestic abuse victims will in future also be accepted as evidence of risk, under the changes revealed on Thursday. Letters from solicitors and information from housing officers will also be sufficient. Read full article

Government Paper on Adult Social Care Funding
This paper examines the key funding pressures facing adult social care services in England and evidence of the impacts of these pressures on social care and health services. The paper explains the additional funding for adult social care that the Government has made available through the Social Care Precept, improved Better Care Fund and Adult Social Care Support Grant. The paper also discusses stakeholder concerns about a growing social care ‘funding gap’, and calls for a comprehensive review of the long-term sustainability of social care. Read full article

The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) have launched our new report on the Right to Rent scheme. The scheme creates structural incentives for landlords to discriminate unlawfully against foreigners and ethnic minorities, according to the report, and JCWI have the evidence from surveys of landlords, tenants and agents, as well as a mystery shopping exercise, to back this up. Read full article

Case studies on coercive and controlling behaviour
Research in Practice for Adults have produced five (open access) in-depth case studies describe situations of coercive and controlling behaviour with learning activities including sample assessment and safety plans which look at the kind of questions that a practitioner might ask, and how they might begin to record evidence or concerns. All professionals need to be confident that they are acting in a way that prioritises the safety of people accessing services. Read full article

New web tool for professionals working with destitute migrants
This new free online resource from the No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) Network is for local authority and voluntary sector practitioners to use to help find out what support options a destitute migrant family might have. The tool aims to help local authorities to make best use of reduced and scarce resources in order to adhere to statutory child safeguarding duties, by acting as an aid to enable local authority staff to conduct assessments more efficiently by explaining key elements of the complex law that governs eligibility for social services support. It should really be of benefit to those who need to assess a family’s eligibility for social service’s support as well as for advisers who need to find out what help a family may be able to get. Read full article

Housing White Paper
The Department for Communities and Local Goverment released their housing white paper yesterday. It details plans to fix the broken housing market and build more homes across England. Read the white paper here. Read full article

Hate Crime: briefing for homelessness services
This short briefing for homelessness services on hate crime is for anyone working in homelessness services, from volunteers on the front line to senior management. It covers key information regarding definitions, how to report incidents and resources for further reading. Read full article

Government denies austerity measures breach human rights
The Independent, 08.02.2017
The Government has been accused of kicking UN concerns about its austerity policy “into the long grass” after it refused to accept the findings of a report that concluded its welfare reforms were a breach of human rights.  Read full article

UC flaws pushing claimants towards debt and eviction
The Guardian, 07.02.2017
An investigation by the Guardian has revealed that: 8 out of 10 social housing tenants moved on to UC are falling into rent arrears or increasing the level of pre-existing arrears. Families unable to manage the regulation 42-day wait for a first payment are regularly referred to food banks by housing associations or local MPs. Some claimants are waiting as long as 60 days for an initial payment because of processing delays on top of the formal wait. Uncertainty about the system has contributed to a dramatic decline in the number of private landlords willing to take on benefit recipients, even if they are in work. Read full article

Success for Attendance Allowance Campaign
Last year the Government proposed passing responsibility for Attendance Allowance to councils rather than the DWP. Age UK campaigned against this proposal which would have created a postcode lottery of support for older disabled people and put the future of the benefit under threat. On 19 January 2017 the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, announced that Attendance Allowance will not be transferred to councils. This is great news for the continued support of older people. Read full article

Shelter's Longer Tenancies Campaign Petition
Shelter is calling on the housing minister Gavin Barwell to make five-year rental contracts available to renters. If necessary renters could leave such contracts early, but they’d have the option of staying in their home for a secure time period. Join their campaign calling on housing minister Gavin Barwell to give renters a fairer deal and greater security. Read full article

MoJ announces timetable for LASPO review
Law Gazette, 18.01.2017
The government had promised a review of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) by April 2018. The act, which came into force in April 2013, removed vast swaths of law from the scope of legal aid. Justice minister Sir Oliver Heald told an all-party parliamentary group meeting that the government ’now considers enough time has passed for the reforms to have bedded in for us to begin the review process’. The ministry plans to submit a post-legislative memorandum on LASPO ‘as a whole’ to the justice select committee. This process has to be done by May but Heald said the ministry hopes to do it before then.  Read full article

DCLG Community Fund
The new ‘Communities Fund’ was launched on 9 December by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to help local people who are struggling to manage. It will be targeted depending on local pressures, and could be used to help those facing domestic abuse, to provide support for disabled children’s services or to support those facing long-term unemployment. Read full article

LASA- Work Capability Assessment Web Tool
Work Capability Assessment within LASA have released their new Work Capability Assessment Web Tool.The purpose of the web tool is to provide an easy to use adviser guide to regulations & case law relating to the work capability assessment. Read full article

Lower benefit cap comes into effect
The Department for Work & Pensions have introduced changes to the benefit cap that workless households can receive. The cap comes into effect on 7th November 2016, reducing the total amount of benefits  to £20,000 across the UK or £23,000 within Greater London.  Read full article

The Crisis in the Justice System
The Bach Commission have released their interim report regarding access to justice. It highlights issues with the justice system which include the bureacracy in the Legal Aid Agency which is costly and time consuming, and that fewer people can access financial support. It also looks at how we can make justice a reality and recommends a reform to Legal Aid and an increase in the availability of legal advice. Read full article

Autumn Statement & Welfare Benefits
The Autumn Statement made an number of announcements regarding welfare, most had been stated previously. The reduction of the Universal Credit taper rate from 65% to 63% was, however, a new announcement.  The Joseph Rowntree Foundations' analysis of the impact of the Statement was that "many families will gain by modest amounts of a few pounds a week from the reduction in the Universal Credit taper rate and the rise in the income tax personal allowance.  However these gains will be dwarfed by much bigger cuts to work allowances imposed by George Osborne in April this year." Read full article

Fund for Local Authorities to increase refuge spaces
Department for Communities and Local Government have launched a new fund for local authorities to increase refuge spaces and other accommodation for women fleeing domestic violence. Read full article

Controlling Migration Fund Launched
Department for Communities and Local Government has launched the Controlling Migration Fund: mitigating the impacts of immigration on local communities.  The Fund is available to bids from local authorities over the four years from 2016-17 to 2019-20. Read full article

Exceptions to limiting individual Child related Credit
Following the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, this consultation paper reviews the exceptions to the limiting of the individual Child Element of Child Tax Credit and the Child Element of Universal Credit to a maximum of two children; a reform that may affect a large number of people.  Read full article

Universal Credit- Welfare reform and working people
Citizens Advice has started a major new research programme on income security. As we enter a period of political and economic uncertainty, this issue is increasingly important. With Universal Credit beginning to replace many existing benefits, there are big changes facing people who receive benefits and are in work. Read full article

Universal Credit- Transition Rollout Schedule
The following schedule sets out the latest planning assumptions for sites that will transition to the full Universal Credit service. For further information and access to the schedule, please click 'Read more'.  Read full article

Transforming our justice system: consultation
A reminder from the previous newsletter that the Ministry of Justice is currently undertaking two consultations on proposed changes to the justice system, including the civil justice system, family proceedings and tribunals:Transforming Our Justice System: Assisted Digital Strategy, Online Conviction and Statutory Fixed Fines (closing date 10 November)Transforming Our Justice System: Panel Composition in Tribunals (closing date 24 November) Read full article

Lasa- Online welfare benefits casework support
If you provide advice on welfare benefits, check out the online casework support available via Lasa’s rightsnet website Rightsnet is one of a range of services delivered by Lasa. The online adviser forums are a great way for advisers to keep up to date and share their experience and expertise for the benefit of their clients. And the best part is - they’re free! Read full article

Lasa- Social Care 'Web Tool'
Lasa’s socialcareinfo service is designed to provide members of the public with access to quality assured information and support on their social care needs. By simply entering a postcode, socialcareinfo provides details of their local authority’s social care offering, access to quality-assured national information resources, and details of local advice services in their area who can offer further support. Read full article

Transforming our justice system: consultation
The Ministry of Justice is currently undertaking two consultations on proposed changes to the justice system, including the civil justice system, family proceedings and tribunals: Transforming Our Justice System: Assisted Digital Strategy, Online Conviction and Statutory Fixed Fines (closing date 10 November)Transforming Our Justice System: Panel Composition in Tribunals (closing date 24 November) Read full article

'I, Daniel Blake'- the benefit system hits the big screen
I, Daniel Blake is searing indictment of the state of the British welfare system, this film is a passionate plea for social justice.  Read full article

Behavioural Science view on accessing benefit entitlement
The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) was commissioned by the Joseph Roundtree Foundation (JRF) to examine the role of individual decisions in shaping people’s experiences of poverty in the UK and to identify the drivers of these decisions. Section 4.3 of the report looks at factors that influence decisions around accessing entitlement, other sections focus on decisions around credit and savings and work and entitlements.The report encourages policy makers to design policies to minimise the mental costs of engaging in government services and to have greater policy coordination when designing and evaluating interventions.  To access this report, please click here. Read full article

Vacancy: Lord Chancellor appointment to the Tribunal Procedure
The Tribunal Procedure Committee (TPC) is appointing to one vacancy for the Lord Chancellor appointed members commencing December 2016. The role is voluntary and is expected to last for 3 years. Read full article

E.ON Energy Funds
E.ON Energy now have an Energy Fund which customers struggling to pay any arrears on their Utility Bills can apply for. Charis Grants manage the E.ON Energy Fund independently. They look after all aspects of the customer journey, from application through to decision making and payment. Read full article

Explaining changes to DLA to claimants
To help agencies explain changes to Disability Living Allowance to claimants, the DWP have produced the leaflet 'DLA is ending'. You can order printed copies of this leaflet free of charge. Read full article

DWP on-line verification
DWP have released a video to assist organisations who support customers in their on-line applications for Universal Credit. There's a new way for the public to prove who they are when dealing with government services online. It's called GOV.UK Verify and once set up, will let them access their Universal Credit account.  Read full article

Syrian refugee resettlement in Hertfordshire
Refugee Council reports on the resettlement of refugees. Families who have escaped the Syrian conflict have been welcomed to Hertfordshire in a special celebratory event laid on by the local community. Read full article

Refugee resettlement scheme expansion
Using the infrastructure for the Syrian resettlement scheme in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey, this new programme is open to all nationalities in the Middle East and North Africa region. The Immigration Minister set out the UK’s commitment to resettle up to 3000 people over the life of the Parliament under the Children at Risk category, a category which includes unaccompanied, accompanied and separated children, and other vulnerable children such as those at risk of child labour, forced marriage, child carers and other forms of exploitation and abuse. Children will be resettled with their family members or carers.  Read full article

Extended Opening Times for Honour Abuse Helpline
The helpline run by Karma Nirvana for victims of honour based violence and forced marriage, has extended its opening hours to cover evenings and weekends. The helpline is now open from 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday - 0800 5 999 247 Read full article

Increased use of sanctions for Universal Credit
The DWP have published a report on 'In-work progression in Universal Credit'. It reports on a trial that has been run by the DWP from 2015 and continues until 2018 on the use of sanctions against people in low paid work. Read full article

Changes to DWP Universal Credit guides website
The DWP are improving the way people access our information online. Read full article

A new UC web tool from revenuebenefits
To help people check whether they are eligible to submit a claim for universal credit in their post code area as well as the status of tax credit and other benefit claims, revenuebenefits have created Read full article

Report on Older Prisoners
Older people released from prison are being set up to fail by a lack of adequate provision to meet their health and social care needs, according to the latest report published with Restore Support Network. Read full article

PIP Appeal Guide
Advicenow has recently published a new guide to dealing successfully with a Personal Independence Payment appeal – How to win a PIP appeal. Read full article

Civil Legal Aid: England & Wales, Scotland and NI compared
This paper examines the differences between the three legal aid schemes, considering their application, key legislation and eligibility criteria. Read full article

Working Families - Second tier employment advice
Working Families is a national charity providing advice on employment rights and in-work benefits for working parents and carers. Read full article

Guidance about the evidence for legal aid for DA victims
Coram Children's Legal Centre have recently published updated guidance about the evidence requirements for legal aid for domestic abuse victims. Read full article

Government consultation on distribution of lottery funding
New government consultation - how National Lottery money is distributed across England and the UK. Please contribute to encourage funding for advice services. Read full article

Tax Credits Debt Technical Guide Published
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Universal Credit Programme, will be producing a series of externally published Technical Guides over the coming months to provide detailed information on the more complex areas of Universal Credit. Read full article

Independent report on effects of welfare conditionality
This overview summarises key first wave findings on the effects and ethics of welfare conditionality. The report states, "the evidence suggests that the common thread linking stories of successful transitions into work or the  cessation of problematic behaviour was not so much the threat or experience of sanction, but the availability of appropriate individual support." Read full article

The Low Comission - Winding Up
Winding down - but not giving up Catherine Baksi assessed three years of the Low Commission after news that the group was winding up after its funding ran out. Read full article

Independent Advice for Parents
Independent Parental Special Education Advice (IPSEA) gives parents advice around issues including disability, discrimination and tribunals. Read full article

Low Commission Newsletter: Legal clinic set up with GP surgery
The Low Commission Spring 2016 Newsletter details a project launched in January 2016 in Newham where a Legal Clinic was set up by UCL students in conjunction with a local GP surgery. See below for full article: Read full article

Is the DWP getting value for money from benefit sanctions?
The National Audit office is currently examining whether the Department of Work and Pensions is achieving value for money from its administration of benefit sanctions: Read full article

How to apply for parental responsibility without a lawyer
Most, but not all parents have 'parental responsibility' for their children. Do you? Maybe you're not sure what 'parental responsibility' is? Or how to get it, if you haven't already got it? Do you help someone else? Read full article

Carers Trust Commission on the Care Act
As you may be aware Carers Trust is holding a Commission on the Care Act – One Year On. They want to identify the impact of the Care Act, good practice, challenges and the experiences of carers. Read full article

DLA is ending - information campaign
Campaign to support full PIP roll-outDisability Living Allowance (DLA) is ending for people who were born after 8 April 1948 and are aged 16 or over. Read full article

Universal Credit Update
UC is now available at 568 Jobcentres, over 80% of all Jobcentres across the country. Information on the local authorities and Jobcentres that will begin to deliver UC as part of the national expansion in 2016 has been updated. Read full article

How to build your own domestic violence case without a lawyer
This DIY toolkit is a free resource for women facing domestic violence, agencies helping them and lawyers who can use it as a resource for under-funded clients or clients they cannot help. Read full article

Advice for clients representing themselves in court
Advice Now's website has an article titled 'How to get help if you are representing yourself in a court or tribunal' which may be useful for clients looking to represent themselves. Read full article

Biggest annual survey of charities and voluntary organisations
Take part in the biggest annual survey of charities and voluntary organisations. The survey, run by a coalition of charities, is gathering evidence about how charities are able to get their voice heard and the support they need. Read full article

Local welfare provision
Overall spending on discretionary local welfare support by central and local government has reduced since April 2013. The consequences of this gap in provision are not understood. The National Audit Office has released a report into this. You can read it here. Read full article

Carer’s Allowance Digital Service
The Carer’s Allowance Digital Service is a simpler, clearer and faster way to make a claim or report a change of circumstances.  Over 360,000 carers have now used the service with a satisfaction rate consistently around 90%. Read full article

Government review into Council Tax Support launched
A review into how local Council Tax support schemes are working across the country has been launched and is now in consultation and calling for evidence. Read full article

DWP Autumn Updates on Universal Credit and PIP rollouts
The Department for Work and Pensions has provided some updates relating to the rollout of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Universal Credit (UC) and published some new guidance on these matters on their website. Read full article

Immigration Bill 2015-2016 - Committee Stage Report
The Immigration Bill is due to have Report and Third Reading in the Commons on 1 December. This briefing summarises the main changes made to the Bill in Public Bill Committee and some of the new clauses proposed for consideration at Report stage. Read full article

Work and Pensions Committee - Ongoing Inquiries
Details of ongoing inquiries by the Work and Pensions Committee into: Local Welfare Safety Net, Welfare to Work, Benefit Delivery Read full article

Welfare Reform and Work Bill - Library Note
Read the Library notes on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill in advance of its second reading in the House of Lords today (17/11/2015).  Read full article

JRF - Report on Paying Care Workers the Living Wage
Joseph Rowntree Foundation report on the cost and benefits of paying low-paid care workers the Living Wage.  Read full article

ONS - Index of Private Housing Rent and Population Projection
Private rental prices paid by tenants rose by 2.7% in the 12 months to September 2015. The UK population is projected to increase by 9.7 million over the next 25 years to 74.3 million in mid-2039. Read full article

VCSE Review - Interim Report on Health and Well-Being
Interim report published by the VCSE Review exploring the impact of provision of support by the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector on health, well-being and social care.  Read full article

Inter-Departmental Ministerial Report on Modern Slavery
This report provides an assessment of modern slavery in the UK and explains the UK's response to this over the past 12 months. Read full article

AdviceNow - information on the law and your rights
AdviceNow is an online resource providing information on the law and the individual's rights across a wide range of areas - such as benefits, housing and family matters - and includes a help section for people who are having to go to court or a tribunal without the help of a lawyer. Read full article

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Update
You may be aware that Disability Living Allowance (DLA) is ending for people who were aged between 16 and 64 on 8th April 2013. Read full article

Immigration Bill passed second reading
The Immigration Bill passed second reading on Tuesday 13 October 2015. Read full article

CourtNav - Helping you navigate your way through court
CourtNav is an online tool developed by the RCJ Advice Bureau in partnership with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP. It is designed to help you if you are going to a civil or family court without a lawyer. You can access CourtNav by contacting the RCJ Advice Bureau on 0207 421 8544. Read full article

Warwick University Study - Mapping immigration campaigns
Warwick University have released a study entitled 'Go Home - Mapping the unfolding controversy of Home office immigration campaigns' Read full article

New resource for councils - information on taking in refugees
Local Government Association - new resource for councils looking for information about taking in refugees. Read full article

Immigration detention in the UK: an overview
Home Office officials have the power to detain asylum seekers, as well as unauthorised migrants who do not enter the asylum system, for administrative purposes. Read full article

Rowntree Foundation Report - support for destitute migrants
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has released a report entitled, 'How to improve support and services for destitute migrants' Read full article

Home Office: reform of support for failed asylum seekers
Home Office International and Immigration Policy Group - consultation on reform of support for failed asylum seekers and other illegal migrants Read full article

National Audit Office - Care Act first-phase reforms
This report highlights the issues which the case study areas told the National Audit Office were important to them in carrying out the Care Act. Local authorities may find their experience informative as they continue to develop their own approaches to carrying out the Care Act. Click here for more information and to read the full report. Read full article

Advice and Health Outcomes - Case Studies
Click here to read more: Read full article

MoJ proposes new round of court fee rises
The Law Society Gazette has published an article which states that fees for some courts could double under plans revealed by the Ministry of Justice today – the day after the House of Commons adjourned for the summer recess. Read full article

Introduction of funding reform delayed until April 2020
The Government announced that it would delay reform of social care funding, including the introduction of a cap on social care costs and a more generous means-test, by four years from April 2016 to April 2020.  Read full article

How to improve support and services for destitute migrants
Many migrants find themselves destitute in the UK with no means of supporting themselves, nowhere to sleep and no means to return home. Many have a case for staying in the UK but may struggle to prove it. The Joseph Rowntree foundation has produced a report on this issue. Read full article

Homeless Link report
Public Health England comissioned Homeless Link to conduct a rapid review to better understand homelessness prevention interventions that have been developed in response to identified health and wellbeing needs amongst households who are at risk of homelessness. Read full article

The Queen’s Speech
The Speech set out a number of the government’s legislative plans, including a Full Employment and Welfare Benefits Bill and a package of measures to reduce youth unemployment. Read full article

£30 Million to Help People in Crisis
The Big Lottery Fund has launched a £30m scheme to improve the prospects of people currently living in crisis or who are at risk of crisis as a result of hardship. The initiative will focus on supporting people to overcome barriers to access the services they need. Read full article

The Big Advice Survey - Findings
The Big Advice Survey was conducted across the UK between 1st December 2014 and 31st March 2015. It set out to ask people to tell us the kind of problems they were experiencing in their lives, gain a better understanding of where advice fits in to assisting with those problems and provide data for further analysis by the advice sector and others. Download the executive summary here. Read full article

The law is good for your health
MAP’s CEO Dan Mobbs has written a blog post entitled, 'The law is good for your health'. Read full article

BBO Fund - deadline is 12 noon on Monday 3 August 2015
Just a reminder that there is one month until the Building Better Opportunities Fund deadline. Project outlines for all LEP areas participating in the programme can be found on the Big Lottery Fund website. Click below for more information and guidance. Read full article

Local Sustainability Fund
The £20 million Local Sustainability Fund has been created by the Office for Civil Society and will be delivered by theBig Lottery Fund. The programme is intended for medium-sized voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations that are providing frontline services to those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged in England. The programme aims to help VCSE organisations become stronger, more sustainable and more resilient to ensure they prosper and continue to support their beneficiaries in the future. Read full article

The Role of Advice Services in Health Outcomes
This report is an evidence review outlining key findings from 140 research studies in the field, and gives an overview of 58 integrated health and welfare advice services. A clear message comes from these wide-ranging sources that welfare advice provided in health care settings results in better individual health and well-being and lower demand for health services. Read full article

1 in 3 ESA claimants waiting more than 8 months for a decision
Benefits and Work, 15.06.2015
The latest employment and support allowance statistics (ESA) released last week show that one third of claimants have still not had a decision on their claim after 8-11 months. Another 40% have recovered or died before they even had an assessment. Read full article

Equality Advisory & Support Service
The Equality Advisory & Support Service (EASS) can deliver tailored advice to individuals on equality discrimination and alleged breaches of human rights and offer one-to-one support. Advice is also available for organisations. Click below for an overview of their service. Read full article

Welfare Reform – lessons learned
National Audit Office, 15.06.2015
"It is important that the DWP use the hard lessons it learned from implementing its recent programme of welfare reforms to improve how it manages change and anticipates risk." Read full article

Update on New Government Immigration Policies
Click below for a summary of the new Government Immigration Policies as outlined in the Prime Minister’s speech on 21 May 2015. Read full article

Care Act first-phase reforms
National Audit Office, 15.06.2015
"The first phase of the Care Act has been implemented well, but this places new responsibilities on local authorities whose core funding is being significantly reduced." Read full article

Government ignores the SSAC recommendation on UC waiting days
Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, 11.06.2015
Regulations to introduce seven 'waiting days' for new claims for Universal Credit have been laid by the DWP under the Welfare Reform Act 2012 with an Explanatory Memorandum. No Impact Assessment has been provided. The DWP consulted the Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) and following extensive consultation, the SSAC recommended that these Regulations should not be made or, at the very least, that the housing element of the benefit should not be subject to the waiting days. They were concerned that many families do not have sufficient savings to cover basic costs for these seven days and that this change will lead to more families having rent arrears and the consequent effect that will have on the willingness of landlords to offer housing to benefit claimants. Read full article

British Medical Journal condemns forced psychological testing
Benefits and Work, 10.06.2015
An article in the latest edition of the British Medical Journal condemns the ‘coercive and punitive’ use of psychological tests and training on benefits claimants, as the DWP moves closer to treating unemployment as a mental health issue.  Claimants are even being forced to attend highly questionable Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) workshops. Read full article

Citizens Advice - Advice trends article
Citizens Advice have published an article by Hugh Stickland; 'Changes and challenges – four years of advice trends'. Read full article

Institute of Fiscal Studies report on Benefit Cuts
Institute of Fiscal Studies has published a report by Robert Joyce; 'Benefit cuts: where might they come from?' Read full article

Welfare reform report – lessons learned
The National Audit Office has called for the Department for Work & Pensions to use the hard lessons it learned from implementing its recent programme of welfare reforms to improve how it manages change and anticipates risk.To view the report please click here  Read full article

Repeat ESA claim update
From 30 March 2015, claimants who make a repeat claim to ESA who were previously found not to have Limited Capability for Work (LCW) at their most recent Work Capability Assessment (WCA), will need to demonstrate that there has been a significant worsening in their health condition or that a new health condition has developed before they can be found to have  LCW. Read full article

Equality Advisory & Support Service (EASS)
The Helpline advises and assists individuals on issues relating to equality and human rights, across England, Scotland and Wales. Read full article

NCAN features in Low Commission follow up report
As part of the second stage of the Low Commission's work, a further follow up report has been published in which NCAN features. The report is called ' Getting It Right In Social Welfare Law.' Read full article

Email advice service for tax credits & child benefits
Child Poverty Action Group can provide advice via email to advisers working with clients. Read full article

Health and wellbeing website for young people launched
Public Health England has launched the Rise Above website which offers help for young people on how to deal with personal and societal issues. Read full article

New Red Cross Campaign
Red Cross have launched a new campaign: Get the Story Straight. Over the next few months, the Red Cross will be fact-checking news stories about refugees and asylum seekers. To get involved in this campaign, please send them any good or bad articles you find. Read full article

Exempt & Specified Accommodation
This briefing from Support Solutions UK explains what Exempt & Specified Accommodation is and the implications of the Welfare Reform Act. If you've been told your services are not Exempt Accommodation, you may find this briefing particularly useful. Read full article

Impact of changes to civil legal aid
House of Commons, 04.03.2015
The House of Commons has published a report considering the impact of the reforms to civil legal aid. Their overall conclusion was that, while it had made significant savings in the cost of the scheme, the Ministry had harmed access to justice for some litigants and had not achieved the other three out of four of its stated objectives for the reforms.  Read full article

The Liverpool Advice on Prescription project
CAB, 03.03.2015
A small scale pilot covering 10 per cent of the practice population (in Liverpool) and lasting for twelve months, was devised between Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and South Liverpool CAB. Read full article

The JRF General Election Hub
Last week saw the launch of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s (JRF) new 2015 General Election Hub, the place for those seeking information about the policies underneath the politics ahead of the polls.  Read full article

The rise of self-represented litigants in civil & family cases
The available evidence indicates that the proportion of litigants appearing before the civil and family courts without legal representation (litigants in person, also sometimes called self-represented litigants) has increased since the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 took many civil and private law children and family cases out of scope for legal aid from 1 April 2013. What does this mean, both for the litigants and for the courts? Read the full report from the House of Commons. Read full article

Public Law Project Press Release
PLP, 02.03.2015
The Public Law Project (PLP) has today published a research paper on the mandatory Civil Legal Advice telephone advice line (the ‘Gateway’). PLP’s research findings indicate that there is insufficient evidence that the Gateway is meeting Parliamentary and policy intentions, and that in some areas those intentions may be being undermined. Read full article

Commons report critical of the reforms to civil legal aid
The House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts published a report on 4 February 2015 which criticised the implementation of the reforms to civil legal aid. Read full article

Universal Credit: Tranches Three and Four
DWP, 23.02.2015
The DWP has now released their plans for the third and fourth tranches of national expansion to local authorities and jobcentre areas. Read full article

Is there a blind spot in our living standards debate?
Citizens Advice, 18.02.2015
The Citizens Advice Bureau have published an article on their website which poses the question, "Is there a blind spot in our living standards debate?" Read full article

The debate on local welfare assistance schemes: Key messages
The Local Goverment Association, 10.02.2015
The Local Goverment Association have published a briefing containing key messages from the debate on local welfare assistance schemes which took place in the House of Lords, Tuesday 10 February 2015. Read full article

Home Office leave to remain with NRPF policy unlawful
Home Office policy of granting leave to remain with NRPF has been found to be unlawful for migrants who were granted leave outside the rules on Article 8 grounds and those with a disability, with the judgment having a wider impact for local authority supported migrants. Read full article

Making Every Adult Matter (MEAM)
MEAM is a coalition of four national charities - Clinks, DrugScope, Homeless Link and MIND - formed to influence policy and services for adults facing multiple needs and exclusions. Read full article

New basic fee-free bank accounts to help people manage money
The Government has secured a deal with 9 high street banks and building societies to provide basic bank accounts that will be truly fee-free, helping people to manage their money without fear of running up an overdraft.  Read full article

Universal Credit national expansion
Following the roll out of Universal Credit in the north-west of England, the DWP have provided details of the first tranche of national expansion to local authorities and jobcentres. The tranche one roll out sites will begin to deliver Universal Credit between February & April 2015 and include Breckland District Council. Read full article

The year in review for child poverty
What did 2014 bring for the children living in hardship in the UK? CPAG tell the story of the highs and lows for children in 2014. Read full article

Litigants in Person: an update
In February 2014, the Magistrates’ Association (MA) in conjunction with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) conducted a survey of MA members. This survey looked at the issues relating to litigants in person (LiPs) and unrepresented in magistrates’ courts. Click the link below to access this survey and to read the Litigants in Person Support Strategy. Read full article

New advice for delivering Care and Support Planning
This week 'think local act personal' launched a new guide to help councils meet Care Act 2014 duties to make sure people, families and carers lead development of their own care and support plans.  Read full article

Universal toolkit
This toolkit contains important public information about Universal Credit and the changes it brings. It is designed to help partner organisations who want to explain Universal Credit to claimants. Read full article

Funding Opportunity: Reaching Communities – Big Lottery
Reaching Communities funding is for projects that help people and communities most in need. Grants are available from £10,000, upwards and funding can last for up to 5 years.  Read full article

Funding Opportunity: Foyle Foundation Small Grants Scheme
The Foyle Foundation Small Grants Scheme is designed to support smaller charities in the UK, especially those working at grass roots and local community level, in any field, across a wide range of activities. Please note they are not able to support individuals. Read full article

Campaign against cuts to funding for vulnerable families
Vital funding for vulnerable families is being cut: tell the government this is a cut too far. Local welfare provision (which replaced the social fund) is a lifeline to vulnerable people up and down the country. It allows struggling families to buy a new bed for a growing child, fix a broken cooker, or set up home after fleeing domestic violence. There is one last chance to persuade the government not to cut this funding. They are consulting on the decision until Thursday 15th Jan – make sure your voice is heard. Take action to save local welfare provision.  Read full article

New working paper: VCSE commissioning
In the light of the issues that arose in the working paper entitled The Voluntary and Community Sector and Localised Commissioning, Regional Voices has drafted a working paper that takes a short look at questions that it would be useful to address nationally, to get the most of partnership work with the VCS. Read full article

Clarification on Direct Recovery of Debts (DRD)
Direct Recovery of Debts (DRD) – As announced at Budget 2014, means the government will be able to recover tax and tax credit debts directly from the bank and building society accounts (and ISAs) of debtors.   Read full article

Tax help for older people
Following changes announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement and the last Budget, these points may be of interest to older people.  Read full article

Exceptional legal aid funding for refugee immigration cases
Exceptional case funding for refugee family reunion work remains available under section 10 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO). This follows the Court of Appeal decision in the case of Gudanaviciene and others versus the Director of Legal Aid Casework and others on 15 December 2014. Legal advisers should refer to the immigration rules for guidance on carrying out family reunion work. Exceptional case funding under section 10 of LASPO is the only option for family reunion work. Please follow the link for more information, including links to the full judgment and relevant Immigration rules. Read full article

New reports on Community Lending
The Cabinet Office, 08.01.2015
This month the Cabinet Office published ‘Scaling Community Lenders - The Role of Social Investment’, the latest in their series of research reports on the social investment market. The report examines how to increase the amount of affordable community lending. Read full article

Further consultation on Universal Credit
There is a further consultation on draft Regulations regarding Universal Credit data sharing between DWP and local support providers. Read full article

New resource for people struggling with loneliness & isolation
Community Interest Company 'Connecting with People' have developed a new resource for people who are distressed and suicidal - 'Staying safe'.  Read full article

Measures to improve healthrelated support for ESA claimants
The response to a Work and Pensions Select Committee report earlier this year has been announced through a written ministerial statement and sets out the changes DWP plans to make from early 2015.  Read full article

Final review of the Work Capability Assessment published
Independent review reports on the evolution of the Work Capability Assessment since introduced in 2008 and on theprogress that has been made by DWP in implementing the recommendations of previous independent reviews.  Read full article

CPAG campaign on foodbanks
Growing evidence suggests that problems with benefits, such as delays in payments or sanctions, are leading people to turn increasingly to foodbanks to feed themselves and their families. You are invited to write to the government calling for key CPAG recommendations to be implemented.  Read full article

High Court ruling on legal aid for immigration cases
The High Court has ruled that the Government's guidance on granting legal aid to individuals in immigration cases is unlawful because it sets too high a threshold and produces unfairness. Read full article

Commissioning: a strategic guide for advice agencies
A practical guide published by Advice Services Alliance to help advice agencies plan and prepare for commissioning and enable them to put together successful bids. Read full article

Five lessons for developing technology-based innovations
New report by Nesta analyses key issues for charities in developing digital products including upskilling, Trustee buy-in, planning and funding; collates examples of best-practice; and suggests new and complementary funding sources.  Read full article

New Policy Institute assessment of poverty and disadvantage
This annual report uses official data from a range of sources to look at trends and patterns across different indicators. This year’s key themes are money, housing, work, benefits, and services. Read full article

Ask CPAG online
A new information and advice service for advisers includes FAQs about common problem areas of the benefit and tax credit system and email advice service. Read full article

Ministry of Justice research on advice
This research, starting this month, is being carried out by Ipsos MMORI and aims to provide a picture of service provided by the advice sector.  Read full article

Access to Justice Foundation – funding opportunity
Particular interest in organisations facing closure or severe loss of services with a view to helping the most vulnerable in society. Bids invited for up to £20,000 - deadline 25 January 2015. Read full article

EEA Jobseekers
CPAG reports on another change affecting jobseekers from the European Economic Area (EEA) which took effect from 10 November.  Read full article

Voluntary-sector leadership in a time of austerity
IIPR article surveying voluntary organisations and calling for a radical reassessment of fundamental structures and objectives.  Read full article

New guide by NPC on Creating Your Theory of Change
A theory of change is a tool that allows you to describe the need you are trying to address, the changes you want to make (your outcomes), and what you plan to do (your activities). It can help you improve your strategy, measurement, communication and partnership working. Read full article

Social Security Advisory Committee - ESA loophole consultation
The Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) is considering the government’s intention to close a loophole it believes is currently being exploited by some Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants.  Read full article

GPs report knock-on effect of legal aid cuts
Simple social welfare problems are 'spiralling out of control', as the number of patients who would benefit from legal advice presenting at GP surgeries increases, according to report in Solicitors Journal.  Read full article

Turn2Us launches free grant search tool
New grants search database contains information on over 3,000 charitable funds offering welfare and educational grants, as well as other support and services. Read full article

Financial literacy for children
Church of England proposes network of clubs run by credit unions for children as young as four as Children's Society research showing that children engage with the financial services sector from a young age. Read full article

Comic Relief Healthier Finances Fund
Transact report on new funding scheme to support those in severe financial hardship. Read full article

Financial Inclusion Commission call for evidence
Submissions from interested groups, organisations, government departments, or individuals are invited to assist the FIC in its aim of taking stock of the state of financial inclusion in the UK and developing practical recommendations to promote financial inclusion. Deadline midnight 12 December 2014. Details of oral evidence sessions will be announced later. Read full article

OECD annual International Migration Outlook
The data shows Germany as the second largest destination for international migrants among the 34 OECD countries after the United States. Germany takes 30 percent of EU migrants compared to 7 percent heading to the UK. Read full article

Report on housing benefit restriction for EEA jobseekers
The Social Security Advisory Committee has published its findings following the consultation about the 1 April 2014 change to regulations that exclude EEA national jobseekers from claiming housing benefit.  Read full article

DWP report on Chancellor's Autumn Statement
New measures to help more parents, young people and individuals with mental health conditions move from benefits into work announced; also confirmation of previously announced measures including the expansion of Universal Credit, restrictions on migrants' access to benefits and plans to increase employment support for people with health conditions or disabilities. Read full article

National Audit Office report on the impact of legal aid cuts
The report concludes that, in implementing its reforms, the Ministry of Justice did not think through early enough the impact of the changes on the wider system, and does not know whether people who are eligible for legal aid are able to get it.  Read full article

ASA and Low Commission project on health outcomes of advice
The ASA and the Low Commission are starting a project looking at the evidence base of advice delivering health outcomes and then mapping the advice provision currently within health settings.  Read full article

New report looks NHS role in poverty reduction
Recommendations include developing a social model of health alongside the medical model and developing its role to change the wider determinants of health as well as reacting to illness.  Read full article

'Taking Charge' - new disability rights guide
Disability Rights UK have published a new practical guide to living with a disability or health condition.  Read full article

New Fuel Rights Handbook 17th Edition available
Published by CPAG and written for advisers and their clients striving to cope with fuel bills, debt and related problems with fuel supply - the standard practical guide to the rights of gas and electricity consumers in England, Wales and Scotland. Read full article

Report assesses changes brought about through LASPO
Guardian reports on new study detailing the effect of legal aid cuts on lawyers’ morale and dismay at the number of litigants without lawyers.  Read full article

Research report into rising use of foodbanks
A new report from CPAG, Oxfam, The Trussell Trust and the Church of England analyses the exponential increase in foodbank use over the last few years, and highlights the role of welfare reform in causing people to turn to foodbanks for help.  Read full article

New resource from SERTUC on population and migration
TUC, 25.11.2014
User friendly guide challenging prevailing myths and views about immigration. Read full article

Three-month benefit limit for EEA Jobseekers
DWP, 25.11.2014
From 10 November 2014, migrants from European Economic Area (EEA) who have the right to live in the UK as jobseekers will face a shorter time limit when they make a new claim for income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA). Read full article

Unmarried parents less likely to stay together
Analysis of ONS figures by the Marriage Foundation suggests unwed parents are less likely to stay together than those who marry.  Read full article

Tax Help for Older People
Tax Help for Older People provides provides free tax advice to older people and training and awareness-raising about tax issues, and works in partnership with other agencies to ensure older people receive the help they need to navigate the tax maze.  Read full article

Information and Advice Strategy Tool
A step-by-step online guide to help local authorities meet the requirements of the Care Act and associated statutory guidance in relation to the provision of information and advice, designed around a six stage process for developing an information and advice strategy.  Read full article

Deadline scrapped for delivery of Universal Credit
Transact reports and comments on a recent announcement by the Work and Pensions Secretary confirming that the rollout of Universal Credit will not be completed by its 2017 deadline. Read full article

Equality and Human Rights Commission invites 'strategic' cases
The Equality and Human Rights Commission are inviting advisors to tell them about cases or issues which merit their involvement and/or which fall within their strategic priorities. These cases may be eligible for funding or representation.  Read full article

£500 million DWP contract for health-related assessments
US firm MAXIMUS awarded £500 million DWP contract for health-related assessments.The contract will cover a number of assessments, including the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) which is currently carried out by Atos who will be exiting their WCA contract early. Read full article

State of the Nation Annual Report
The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission has published its second State of the Nation Annual Report. The report concludes that the Government’s target to end child poverty by 2020 is not achievable.  Read full article

New data on child poverty in the UK
End Child Poverty’s have published new data on child poverty in the UK. With 30% of children living in poverty (after housing costs), Norwich comes out as the second worst local authority in the East of England for child poverty.  Read full article

Mental health waiting times
The Government have announced the first ever waiting time standards for mental health services and a funding injection of £120 million to improve mental health services.  Read full article

NHS Five Year Forward View
The NHS have published their 39 page ‘Five Year Forward View’ looking at the sustained future of the NHS. Recommendations include the NHS becoming a better partner with voluntary organisations and local communities. Read full article

Report examines pros and cons of online advice
With particular reference to the requirements set out in the Care Act 2014, this report takes a detailed look including examining the business and quality issues, accessibility, the need for monitoring and continuous improvement, and the limitations and legal aspects of online information.  Read full article

Mandatory Reconsideration - Tax Credits
CPAG have published some resources looking in detail at the new system for challenging HMRC decisions.  Read full article

Grants to support carers projects
The Cabinet Office is inviting voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations to apply for grants. of £50,000 or more to support projects that improve the lives of unpaid family carers. Read full article

DWP Briefing - JSA and ESA waiting days change
DWP Briefing - JSA and ESA waiting days change From 27 October 2014 the waiting days change to JSA and ESA will be implemented. This refers to the unpaid period at the start of a claim, where a claimant has no entitlement to JSA or ESA, but must continue to meet the relevant benefit conditions.  Read full article

Government consultation on local welfare provision
The scrapping of parts of the Social Fund  by the Welfare Reform Act 2012 paved the way for the delivery of new local welfare provision by local authorities, replacing Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans. This government consultation seeks views on how local welfare provision should be funded in 2015 to 2016. Read full article

Local Authorities and the Care Act - briefings
A series of briefings supporting implementation of the Care Act 2014 and setting out local authorities' obligations in relation to advice and information.  Read full article

Benefits for Migrants Handbook available from CPAG
The complete and definitive guide to the social security entitlement conditions that are specific to those who have come to or are leaving the UK.   Read full article

CPAG on the future of Local Welfare Assistance Schemes
CPAG resources include judicial review test case against the funding cut and blog post on the future of the schemes.   Read full article

The social and economic impact of the Social Prescribing Pilot
Assessment of a pilot in Rotherham in which 31 social prescribing services acted as a gateway for patients to access a range of services - including information and advice - finds average reductions of 20% for Accident and Emergency attendances, in-patient stays and outpatient appointments with potential cost reductions of £1.9 million over 5 years.  Read full article

Welfare reforms: Call for evidence
NCVO’s welfare reform project is investigating how the government’s welfare reforms are affecting people and communities in England, and the potential challenges this poses for voluntary organisations. Closes on Monday 27 October.  Read full article

Briefing on Minimum Earnings Threshold (MET) for EEA Nationals
NCLS briefing clarifies what has changed, and what remains the same in the rules for assessing whether an EEA National benefit claimant is a 'worker' or has previously been a 'worker'.   Read full article

Nominet Trust - funding for digital technology
A total of £5M in grants for organisations to carry out UK-based or international projects that use digital technology to improve the lives of the disadvantaged and vulnerable and to strengthen communities. Deadline: 22 October 2014 Read full article

Funding opportunity - Woodward Charitable Trust
Funds charitable organisations in the UK and its focus areas include children and young people; minority groups; prisoners and ex-offenders; disability projects and homelessness. Deadline: 30 November 2014.    Read full article

'Under pressure' advice services funding boost in Wales
'Under pressure' free advice services in Wales have been awarded £2 million to help them manage with increased demand from people struggling to cope with the tough economic climate, the Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, Lesley Griffiths, announced. Read full article

New report looks at financial capability for children
'Money Talk' - new report by Home-Start calls for greater financial inclusion for children from their early years.  Read full article

Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme 2014-2020
£342M European Programme aiming to make people's rights and freedoms effective in practice by making them better known and more consistently applied; also promotes the rights of the child and the principles of non discrimination and gender equality, including projects to combat violence against women and children. Deadline: 12 November 2014. Read full article

Mobile budgeting app
Musselburgh and District CAB have designed and launched a mobile phone app to help people keep track of their finances and avoid falling into debt. Read full article

Joseph Rowntree report: A UK Without Poverty
Recommendations include improved access to advice and support through co-location and the better coordination of statutory and voluntary services; and delivering services in a way that enables people to access advice and support early.  Read full article

Plans announced for accelerated rollout of Universal Credit
DWP announce that Universal Credit will be rolled out to all Jobcentres and local authorities across the country from early next year.  Read full article

Paul Hamlyn Foundation Social Justice Programme (UK)
The Paul Hamlyn Foundation is currently accepting applications under its Social Justice Open Grants Programme - closing date for applications is the 31st October 2014. Read full article

Report finds Britain has largest legal aid budget in Europe
A report from the Council of Europe has found that Britain has among the most lawyers and the highest legal aid spending of any European country with British judges some of the highest-paid in Europe.  Read full article

DWP Wellbeing pilots
DWP is running three pilots aimed at finding the best ways to improve employment and health outcomes for benefit claimants of working age who have mental well-being needs so that they are able to find, or move closer to work. Read full article

UN enquiry on violations of disabled people's rights
DNS reports on high-level inquiry by a United Nations committee on the UK government's "grave or systemic violations" of the rights of disabled people. Mark Harrison, CEO of Equal Lives in Norwich says, "They had no electoral mandate to carry out this assault on our living conditions which is both discriminatory and disproportionate".  Read full article

New CPAG Child Support Handbook for 2014/2015
Written for parents and their advisers, the annual Child Support Handbook is the standard practical guide to the statutory child support scheme in England, Wales and Scotland.  Read full article

Research on impact of localisation of council tax benefit
Research by CPAG and Z2K reveals that council tax localisation and the accompanying 10 per cent cut to funding in London has led to widespread hardship for individuals and families already struggling on low wages or reliant on benefits and made it more complicated for councils to collect council tax payments.  Read full article

Tax Credits, the Essentials - free training materials
CPAG has produced a set of training materials that enable experienced welfare rights workers to train frontline advisers who have clients who claim tax credits. To deliver the course you will need to have a good knowledge of tax credits. To request a free set of the training materials email Kelly Smith on  Read full article

Public Accounts Committee concern over tax credits debts
In a report into debt owed to central government, the Public Accounts Committee noted the increasing use of private debt collection agencies, including for recovery of tax credit overpayments. The Committee was particularly concerned about the risks of vulnerable debtors being pursued inappropriately.  Read full article

Counselling Directory
As well as a directory of counsellors, the website contains information on different types of distress, as well as relevant articles, news, and events. Click here to visit their website - Read full article

Local welfare assistance schemes - campaign to keep them alive
Funding for local welfare assistance schemes, which replaced the Social Fund, is due to be scrapped from April 2015. Bridget Young of Crisis explains how we can all take action to campaign to keep the scheme in existence.  Read full article

Guardian seeks view on use of the term 'illegal immigrant''
The Guardian newspaper asks for readers’ views on use of the term ‘illegal immigrant’. Please email responses to: Read full article

Making ESOL policy work better for migrants and wider society
Demos have published a report putting the case for England to develop a national ESOL strategy.  Read full article

Social housing residents facing a cost of living crisis
Survey suggests 94% of social housing tenants have experienced ‘financial difficulties’ in the last six months, and more than two in five ‘struggle to keep up with household essentials’. Read full article

Financial advice to be offered in food banks
Food bank charity the Trussell Trust is launching a pilot scheme that will see people receive instant financial help and debt advice in food banks.  Read full article

CPAG - cost of raising a child
The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has published its annual “Cost of a Child” report.  Read full article

Request for case studies for a TV documentary
Ellie Cronin, Policy Adviser at the The Law Society, is asking for case studies for a documentary on the impact of LASPO.  Read full article

Payday lending: Transact responds to the CMA
Transact, the national forum for financial inclusion, has submitted a response to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on the provisional findings of its investigation into the payday lending market. Read full article

Rising food bank usage an indicator of UK food poverty
Transact report on new report by Oxfam outlining growing concerns around food bank usage in the UK, with over 20 million free meals being handed out in the last year. Read full article

Landscape of UK household debt worsening
Transact reports on Money Advice Trust anayisis of debt advice statistics. For example, in 2013 the charity helped 150,000 people with household debt bills, an increase of 140% compared with 2007’s figure.  Read full article

The impact of welfare reform on social landlords and tenants
Transact reports on research conducted by LSE Housing and Communities for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that reveals the impact of welfare reform on social housing landlords and tenants. Read full article

One million more workers should be paid the living wage
Transact report on a report by the Living Wage Commission which says the UK government should aim to cut the number of low-paid workers by one million by the end of the decade. Read full article

Young adults have hit hardest by recession
Transact report on the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ (IFS) annual report on living standards, poverty and inequality in the UK which has revealed that young adults have been hit hardest by the recession. Read full article

Basic living standard for typical family £40,600
Transact reports on new report released by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) which has found that the acceptable standard of living has risen by 46% since 2008. Read full article

Consultation on the National Minimum Wage launched
Transact report on the public consultation on the National Minimum Wage (NMW) launched by the Low Pay Commission.  Read full article

Consultation on future of credit union movement
Contribute to Transact's response to the government's consultation on the future of the credit union movement. Read full article

DWP response to benefit sanctions review
DWP has welcomed the findings of Matthew Oakley’s review of benefit sanctions for Jobseekers Allowance claimants. Read full article

Local councils to help claimants prepare for Universal Credit
DWP has announced a series of new trials to help claimants get ready for Universal Credit, along with the 11 partnerships that will deliver local support. Read full article

DWP Domestic Emergency Rules Changes
DWP has changed the domestic emergency rules for homeless Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants to allow them more time to look for a place to live. Read full article

Comic Relief grant making programme changes
Comic Relief's grant making programme changed in 2013, moving away from funding in specialist areas, to supporting a wider range of work that meets with one of its four themes of Safer Lives, Better Futures, Healthier Finances and Fairer Society.  Read full article

New Research: Economic review of social welfare advice
The Low Commission have commissioned independent research on the economic value of social welfare advice from economists at the University of Surrey.  Read full article

Advice, Support and Poverty: An Evidence Review
Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 31.07.2014
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) commissioned a series of literature reviews in 2013 to provide a comprehensive and robust evidence base to inform the development of anti-poverty strategies for the UK. Damon Gibbons & Sarah Foster of Inclusion lead a review considering the needs of people in poverty for information, advice and support, and how services can help to prevent, mitigate, and reduce poverty. Read full article

PIP assessment: first independent review call for evidence
Department for Work & Pensions, 31.07.2014
The Department for Work and Pensions are seeking feedback about how the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment is working. This is the first independent review and it includes all stages of the PIP process – from making a claim, the face to face consultation, the daily living and mobility criteria and getting a decision. This call for evidence is intended for organisations and individuals who have information about how all aspects of the PIP process and assessment are operating. Read full article

Grants from Money Advice Trust
Grants of up to £30,000 per year for up to 3 years are available to charitable organisations in the UK that can deliver projects to support people who are in severe financial hardship, who are financially excluded and/or who are hard to reach. Applications to the Money Advice Trust are welcome from projects that can demonstrate innovative practice to support people to: increase their financial literacy; save money; reduce their debt; maximise their income; and access affordable credit and financial services. Expressions of interest are being accepted until 17th August 2014. Read full article

Youth Engagement Fund
Jointly funded between the Cabinet Office, the Department for Work and Pensions and the Ministry of Justice, the £16m Youth Engagement Fund will help disadvantaged young people aged 14 to 17 to participate and succeed in education or training, improving their employability, reducing their long term dependency on benefits, and reducing their likelihood of offending. Click below for the prospectus which explains the fund’s structure and bidding process. It is now open for initial applications. Read full article

Poverty and Social Exclusion project
Transact, 24.07.2014
The number of British households falling below minimum living standards has more than doubled in the past 30 years, despite the size of the economy increasing twofold, a study on poverty and deprivation in the UK claims. According to the study undertaken by the Poverty and Social Exclusion project (PSE), 33% of households endure below-par living standards – defined as going without three or more "basic necessities of life", such as being able to adequately feed and clothe themselves and their children, and to heat and insure their homes. In the early 1980s, the comparable figure was 14%. Read full article

Child poverty statistics highlight inconvenient truths
Child Poverty Action Group, 24.07.2014
The official child poverty figures for 2012/13 were published earlier this month by the DWP. CPAG’s response noted that the statistics demonstrated the value of social security support in helping protect families with children from poverty, and that work isn't working for far too many families. Read full article

Can universal credit be made to work to reduce poverty?
Child Poverty Action Group, 24.07.2014
Universal credit (UC) may be much-maligned but like it or not, it’s coming our way. Given this, how can it best deliver on its dual promise to make work pay and reduce poverty? The TUC and Child Poverty Action Group have been exploring this question in recent months, ably assisted by Howard Reed of Landman Economics. Click below for a sneak preview of their results. Read full article

Big Energy Saving Network – Grant Offer Fund
Department of Energy & Climate Change, 24.07.2014
The Department of Energy & Climate Change has launched the 2014/15 Big Energy Saving Network, a £1 million programme to support eligible third sector organisations and community groups, deliver help and advice to vulnerable consumers. Read full article

Charities can offer the right cultural fit for commissioners
Civil Society, 24.07.2014
Michael O’Toole looks at what the public services market place means for the culture and ethos of charities. Read full article

Government unveils major boost to social investment sector
Cabinet Office, 24.07.2014
The government announces a multi-million pound package of finance to boost social investment market, and its strategy to grow the sector. To make sure that more social ventures can benefit from social finance, an investment of £60 million for social investment “readiness” over the next decade has also been announced today. Read full article

Review of the operation of Jobseeker’s Allowance sanctions
A report of an independent review of the operation of Jobseeker's Allowance sanctions finds that there are a number of areas where improvements need to be made, particularly for more vulnerable individuals.  Read full article

New Impact Measurement Tools
Two new impact measurement tools have been launched through the Inspiring Impact programme. The 10-year programme aims to help charities and social enterprises better understand and communicate the impact they make. Read full article

Big Lottery Fund working with LEPs to delivery EU funding
Subject to approval from the European Commission later this year, Big Lottery Fund (BLF) is in talks to put up £260m of lottery funds against a similar figure from the 2014-2020 European Structural & Investment Fund Growth Programme in order to support communities and those in need across England. Read full article

Service Transformation Challenge Panel: Call for Evidence
This initiative was announced in April 2014 by the Department for Communities and Local Government. It aims to make recommendations on what needs to happen locally and nationally to increase the pace of integration between local public services.  Read full article

Youth Engagement Fund
A £16m Youth Engagement Fund which will fund social impact bonds to support young people at risk of becoming NEET. Applications open in early July – register your interest to receive full bidding documentation and details of bidder information events by emailing Read full article

Welcome change to help homeless people seeking work
Homeless Link, 30.06.2014
The charities Homeless Link and St Mungo’s Broadway today welcomed changes to Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) that will provide extra support to people who are homeless and looking for work. The conditions which will come into effect on 21 July, offer a possible ‘easement of conditionality’ giving Jobcentre Plus advisers discretionary power to change the expectations around what is expected of new JSA claimants who are homeless and sleeping rough or in certain some kinds of supported accommodation. This could, for example, enable people to have a period of time to sort out their housing situation before they are required to commit to certain job seeking actions. Read full article

One million more workers should be paid the living wage
Transact, 24.06.2014
The Living Wage Commission says the UK government should aim to cut the number of low-paid workers by one million by the end of the decade. Read full article

The Low Commission Report: Four months on
The Low Commission, 19.06.2014
The Low Commission have published the first edition of a monthly newsletter. It looks at how the Low Commission is "upping its game to influence policies which may determine the future landscape for social welfare advice and legal support services", and it looks at the situation four months on from Lord Low's report. Read full article

Consultation on proposal to extend benefit waiting days
Social Security Advisory Committee, 18.06.2014
The Social Security Advisory Committe has launched a public consultation on the Government’s intention to extend the number of days a claimant must wait before they are entitled to receive certain benefits from three to seven. It is estimated that those making a claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA) will lose, on average, £40 or £50 respectively as a result.  Read full article

Guardian Society report on problems with PIP appeals system
The Guardian Society, 18.06.2014
The Guardian's Natalie Bloomer looks at the problems being caused by the introduction of the additional mandatory reconsideration stage in the process of challenging PIP decisions and the impact this is having on thousands of disabled people.  Read full article

JSA and ESA Sanctions Statistics
A briefing produced by University of Glasgow looking at recently released DWP statistics shows highest numbers and rates of sanctions to date.  Read full article

Refugees may receive legal aid for family reunification
Refugee Council, 18.06.2014
A landmark court judgment has ruled that refugees seeking family reunification are entitled to legal aid to help them pursue their claims. Legal aid is vital for refugees pursuing family reunification as the cases are often wrongly refused and later overturned on appeal. Read full article

JRCT launches new grants programme
The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (JRCT) now has five grant programmes. The ‘Rights and Justice’ strand has as its aims the creation of a world that guarantees equal treatment for all people. Read full article

Big Lottery Fund Responds to Government’s Review
Funding Central, 12.06.2014
The Big Lottery Fund has responded to this week’s publication of the Cabinet Office’s first Triennial Review of the funder. The review examined whether there is a continuing need for the functions performed by the Big Lottery Fund, and whether the organisation should continue to operate in its current form. Read full article

Tackling Labour Exploitation among refugees and asylum seekers
This is a guide from the Platform on Forced Labour and Asylum, written to assist people working with refugees and asylum seekers in the UK to identify and respond to labour exploitation. Service providers can play a crucial role in communicating core UK employment rights, and in helping this particular group of workers make informed decisions about work by understanding the options for and outcomes of seeking support. Read full article

Office for Civil Society consult on new fund
DWP, 05.06.2014
The Office for Civil Society are consulting on a proposed sustainability fund to support effective voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations. The fund will be open to applications in 2015 and will look particularly at supporting organisations working with the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of society. They want people and organisations to give their views to help design and implement it. The consulation will close on 24th July 2014. Read full article

PIP: Official Statistics
The DWP have published a summary of the first official statistics on PIP new claims (caseload to 28th February 2014). Read full article

The ASTF Support Website is now live
The ASTF learning and support team, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, has set up a support website. The website has resources on it, including a project and contract management section containing templates and tools, a health and advice toolkit, information about events and resources from previous events, a summary of all the ASTF projects and some case studies. Read full article

CPAG's New Big Book of Benefits and Mental Health
CPAG's new buy-in publication the Big Book of Benefits and Mental Health 2014/15 has lots of new and updated information on PIP, ESA, universal credit and more, plus top tips and tactics for claimants and advisers. Read full article

Campaign to save local welfare assistance schemes
CPAG, 29.05.2014
The future of localised welfare assistance schemes has been thrown into doubt as it emerged that DWP funding would end in April 2015. Read full article

Youth Engagement Fund
Cabinet Office, GOV.UK, 23.05.2014
The Youth Engagement Fund is a £16 million payment by results fund. It aims to help disadvantaged young people aged 14 to 17 to participate and succeed in education or training. This will improve their employability, reduce their long term dependency on benefits, and reduce their likelihood of offending. Read full article

Priced Out: Ending the financial penalty of disability by 2020
Transact, 15.05.2014
Charity Scope has published a report highlighting the extra financial costs faced by disabled people. The 'Priced Out' report reveals that disabled people face an average of £550 per month in additional costs related to their disability. Read full article

New report into minority groups in the UK
Policy Exchange, 15.05.2014
The handbook draws on an extensive set of survey, census, academic and polling data to build up a detailed picture of the five largest minority groups in the UK – Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Black Africans and Black Caribbeans. The paper outlines the demographics, geography, life experiences, attitudes and socioeconomic status of each of these major ethnic groups. Read full article

Temporary measures to Support Mortgage Interest extended
Temporary measures to help home owners who lose their jobs will be extended until the end of March 2016. The measures, which were originally introduced in January 2009, shortened the waiting time before claimants can get Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) to 13 weeks and increased the higher capital limit to £200,000.  Read full article

Sanctions and Homelessness: Latest Evidence
Homeless Link, 14.05.2014
Today the government published the latest statistics revealing the number of sanctions imposed on benefit claimants. Homeless Link takes a look at what these statistics tell us and the impact of sanctions on homeless people. Read full article

Immigration Bill becomes law
GOV.UK, 14.05.2014
The Immigration Bill received Royal Assent on 14 May making way for a series of reforms designed to make the immigration system fairer to British citizens and legitimate migrants and tougher on those with no right to be here. Read full article

Generation rent: who's listening?
The Guardian, 10.05.2014
The number of private renters has now surpassed those in social housing for the first time. John Harris investigates some of the difficulties facing private renters, including short tenancy agreements and annual rent increases. He also hears from a private tenant in North Norfolk... Read full article

Know Your Rights, Know Your Benefits - 3rd Edition out now
The latest edition of a Catch22 publication Know Your Rights, Know Your Benefits, is now available. The guide is written for care leavers in England, and sets out to help young people understand the support available to them within the benefits system. The guide is tailored to the needs of the care leaver, and includes the special benefit rules that apply to them. Read full article

Fabian article on Universal Credit
Fabian Society, 02.05.2014
Lindsay Judge discusses whether Universal Credit is a good idea and how future governments can modify the new benefit to ensure it delivers as best it can. Read full article

New Health and Advice Outcomes Measurement Toolkit launched
The Department of Health funded Citizens Advice to develop a suite of tools that can be used to identify the links between advice and health. This includes a survey template to evidence the impact local advice services can have on client health and wellbeing. The survey evidences the impact of advice on a clients circumstances e.g. housing, finances, debt, employment and mental wellbeing using the short WEMWB scale. Read full article

Councils sit on £67m in emergency help for poor
The Guardian, 20.04.2014
'Record numbers of families have pleas for help rejected even though councils in England are failing to spend allocated cash...' Read full article

Life on the Edge Report
National Debt Charity StepChange have released their report on the national debt picture 'Life on the Edge'. Read full article

Nearly 4 million families at risk of not meeting housing costs
Transact, 14.04.2014
Shelter has reported that 3.8 million families are living on a ‘financial knife edge’ in relation to meeting rent or mortgage payments. Read full article

Consultation on new Housing Benefit rules for EEA Nationals
The Social Security Advisory Committee has begun a consultation and a call for evidence on the implications of the new Housing Benefit regulations for EEA Nationals. Read full article

New rules on bailiffs
Bailiffs have to follow new rules and processes when collecting debts, starting from 6 April. The new rules are designed to make sure that debts are collected fairly and to provide more protection from unfair behaviour by bailiffs. Read full article

New regulation of credit and debt advice
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have taken responsibility for regulating the £200 billion consumer credit market and have published research into low income consumers, identifying three distinct borrower groups: survival borrowers, lifestyle borrowers, and reluctant borrowers. Read full article

Proposed EU Directive on Basic Bank Accounts
European Parliament and Council back Commission proposal on right of citizens to a basic bank account and to make bank accounts accessible to all, transparent and easier to switch. The formal adoption is expected in the coming weeks. Read full article

New Universal Credit Video
DWP have made a short animated film which sets out how Universal Credit will work. Read full article

Observations on Universal Credit & Self-employment
On her blog 'Permaculture House In Totnes', Catherine Ashley has posted some observations on Universal Credit and Self-employment. Read full article

Migrant Help Services for asylum seekers across the UK
From 1 April 2014, the services previously delivered by Refugee Council to adult asylum seekers and their dependants - One Stop Service and Initial Accommodation Wraparound – will be delivered by Migrant Help under the umbrella name Asylum Help. Their new services will be known as Asylum Advice UK and Asylum Support Application UK, and will enable continuation of all statutory services to asylum seekers and refugees.  Read full article

Major changes in family courts
On April 22nd there will be major change in the family court system in England and Wales including the launch of a single family court as well as making it a requirement for separating couples to attend a meeting to find out about mediation before they are allowed to take disputes over finances or child custody to court (unless exemptions apply – such as in cases of domestic violence). Read full article

Funding for PCs and Laptops
Net Solutions Wales are offering grants of up to £10,000 for charities and non-profit groups working anywhere in the UK. Grants can be used to purchase PCs, Laptops and IT services within a year of receipt of funding and successful groups will receive full support with no on-going commitment. Read full article

Funding: UK Power Networks Power of Giving Grants
UK Power Networks “Power of Giving Fund” awards grants of between £1,000 and £10,000 to innovative projects designed to help local communities in a number of areas such as reducing fuel poverty, enhancing energy efficiency and promoting low carbon economy. Read full article

ESA Campaign
Citizens Advice ‘Make ESA fit for work’ campaign - Citizens Advice are running a campaign to highlight issues with the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) system. They are collating experiences and stories on different aspects of the ESA system - share your experiences by email with Read full article

Big Lottery Fund: Your Voice
From March until July 2014, the Big Lottery Fund are inviting people to add their voice to a UK wide conversation around key areas of Big Lottery Fund’s work. Your views will help shape their vision and plans from 2015 to 2021. Read full article

Dramatic Reduction in Benefit Appeals lodged with Tribunals
The latest figures out from Her Majesties' Courts & Tribunals Service show a dramatic reduction in the number of Social Security & Child Support appeals lodged directly with Tribunals. Read full article

Advice on Dealing with Sanctions
The Benefits Training Co., 20.03.2014
The Benefits Training Co. have put together a summary of the advice they give on dealing with benefits sanctions.  Read full article

DWP Benefits Checker Withdrawn
Department for Work & Pensions, 07.03.2014
'The department’s (DWP) existing online benefits calculator, Benefits Adviser, is being decommissioned and will be taken offline on 31st March 2014. DWP will not be developing a replacement; instead, visitors to GOV.UK will be directed towards high quality online benefit calculators offered by other organisations.' Read full article

£40m Fund to Support 'Financially Vulnerable' Charities, 06.03.2014
The Office for Civil Society has won backing from the Treasury for a new fund, hoped to be worth around £40m, to help voluntary organisations which are in danger of closure. Read full article

CPAG Briefing on Foodbanks
This briefing from Child Poverty Action Group looks at CPAG’s concerns about rising demand for food aid from UK families and initial findings from CPAG’s foodbanks project.  Read full article

Consultation on the Child Poverty Strategy 2014 to 2017
Department for Education and Department for Work & Pensions, 27.02.2014
The Goverment have published their draft strategy on reducing child poverty. They are seeking the views of the voluntary & community sector, parents/carers, children/young people, practitioners, representative bodies, academics and social enterprises in response to their strategy. The closing date for responses is 22 May 2014. Read full article

National call for evidence: impact of welfare reforms
NCVO's project 'Strengthening the Voluntary Sector's Voice in Welfare Reform' will research the cumulative effect of welfare reform. They want to hear from organisations who provide services or a voice to welfare claimants. Deadline for responses is 31 March 2014. Read full article

NHSE launches grant programme for personal health budgets
In Control, 26.02.2014
NHS England has launched a programme for the voluntary and community sector to help them 'gear up' for personal health budgets so they have the knowledge, capacity and expertise to inform their local communities about personal health budgets. Read full article

Minimum Earnings Threshold for EEA Migrants Introduced
Department for Work & Pensions, 21.02.2014
Migrants from the EEA who claim to have been in work or self-employed to get benefits, will face a more robust test from 1 March 2014.  Read full article

New Welfare Benefits Appeal Process
Child Poverty Action Group, 20.02.2014
Please find below a link to a useful overview by CPAG of the new Welfare Benefits Appeal Process. Read full article

PIP Statistics shows 50% of claimants getting awards
Department for Work & Pensions, 13.02.2014
The Department for Work & Pensions has published information and statistics on PIP claims and PIP claim decisions since their introduction in April 2013 as part of the goverment's 'Welfare Reform'. Read full article

Updated Guidance on Housing Rights for EEA Workers
Housing Rights Information has updated it's guidance on housing problems faced by EEA nationals who are working or self-employed. This information is aimed at housing advisors. Read full article

Guidance & FAQs on Universal Credit and Rented Housing
Department for Work & Pensions, 29.01.2014
This guidance produced by the DWP explains what Universal Credit means for landlords and tenants. It deals with frequently asked questions around calculating rent, evidence requirements, service charges, support and alternative payment arrangements and more.  Read full article

Disability Data Toolkit
Department for Work & Pensions, 23.01.2014
The DWP have created a toolkit for Disabled Peoples User Led Organisations (DPULOs), other small organisations and charities. It aims to provide guidance to help organisations find and use data with confidence to support their work by, for example, the better targeting of services and/or resources to meet the needs of disabled people. Read full article

Mortgage Rescue Scheme Closure
Please follow the link below for a short communication on the closure of the Mortgage Rescue Scheme (MRS) which highlights the key points relating to the closure on 31st March 2014. Read full article

Exempt Accommodation and the Welfare Reform Act
Support Solutions, 19.01.2014
Support Solutions have published a briefing looking at Exempt Accommodation and the Welfare Reform Act. It focuses on: defining 'Exempt Accommodation', the need to review the Exempt Accommodation rules, current DWP thinking, tenancy sustainment and tenant vulnerability and the social and financial return on investment in preventative services.  Read full article

Impact of Welfare Reform on Housing Employees
Straight Forward, 16.01.2014
'Straight Forward' have worked with 10 Housing organisations to look in to the challenges/issues that Housing/Income and Welfare employees are facing in their day to day working lives. Read their research here. Read full article

JSA Back to Work scheme guide
Department for Work and Pensions, 16.01.2014
The DWP have issued a guide to back to work schemes for JSA claimants. It includes sections on skills conditionality, sector-based work academies, new enterprise allowances and sanctions. Read full article

Update on Bedroom Tax ‘loophole’
Housing Systems, 16.01.2014
The DWP have issued an urgent bulletin that confirms some longstanding HB claimants are excluded from the 'Bedroom Tax'. Read full article

Turn2us Launches Fuel Poverty Campaign
Transact, 15.01.2014
Turn2us has launched it's annual fuel poverty campaign which aims to highlight the problems that people in fuel poverty are experiencing. This year’s campaign, ‘Mind the Gap’ is focusing on the impact of the widening fuel poverty gap – the difference between the cost of people’s energy bills and what they can afford to pay. Figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change show that the average fuel poverty gap has increased by almost £200 to £438 over the last decade. Read full article

MP speaks on welfare reform and poverty
Rochdale News, 15.01.2014
Speaking in a parliamentary debate about welfare reforms and poverty, Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk highlighted the case of a Rochdale woman with a severe psychiatric condition who was forced to attend back-to-work classes in another town, causing her mental health to further deteriorate to the point she was sectioned and subsequently had a heart attack age 47 and is now in a coma. Read full article

PIP and Motability
As you may know, the DWP has begun re-assessing DLA claimants for the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP). This process is being carried out using a phased approach and, so far, has included claimants living in Wales, East Midlands, West Midlands and East Anglia. Since the end of October 2013, the DWP have been asking existing DLA claimants to claim PIP if there is a change of circumstances, including a change of care or mobility needs. This briefing gives details of the impact of this on access to the Motability Scheme. Read full article

Low Commission Report Published
The Low Commission, 09.01.2014
An independent commission, led by cross-bencher Lord Low, is calling for urgent reforms to ensure ordinary people can get the help they need to deal with employment, debt, housing and other social welfare law problems. Read full article

Universal Credit delays ascribed to ‘rift’
The Guardian, 08.01.2014
The government's flagship programme to shake up the benefits system is facing fresh problems in a battle between two departments at the heart of the scheme, documents leaked to the Guardian show. Read full article

Public health grants to local authorities
Department of Health, 06.01.2014
The Government has published details of Public health grants to local authorities 2013 to 2014 and 2014 to 2015. This information shows the amount per head that each local authority will receive for public health work. Read full article

Potential ‘Bedroom Tax’ loophole
UCAdvice, 29.12.2013
In recent weeks there has been much debate on welfare rights discussion forums about a potential “Bedroom Tax” loophole affecting tenancies created before 1st January 1996.  Read full article

NCVO Welfare Recommendations
The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) have made recommendations about the proposed cap on Annually Managed Expenditure. Read full article

Universal Credit Support Update
The DWP have produced an updated 'Local Support Services Framework'. Read full article

DWP Sanctions Review – tell your story
Department for Work and Pensions, 05.12.2013
Matthew Oakley is conducting an independent review on the operation of the Jobseeker’s Allowance sanctions system. He wants to hear from claimants and interested parties about their experience of the operation of sanctions that have been given while claimants were on mandatory back-to-work schemes. Read full article

Treasury Committee considers future of Money Advice Service, 03.12.2013
In a report published today, the Treasury Committee has called on the Government to commission an independent review, to be completed no later than summer 2014, looking at whether the Money Advice Service (MAS) should continue to exist as a statutory organisation. Read full article

Universal Credit Pathfinder Evaluation
Department for Work and Pensions, 29.11.2013
The DWP have published an evaluation of the success of the Universal Credit Pathfinder. They refer to research on Universal Credit that involved interviews with 2701 benefit claimants and have found that Universal Credit claimants do more to get into work than jobseekers claiming under the current system. Read full article

Does Money Affect Childrens Outcomes? A systematic review
CSN, 28.11.2013
This briefing covers the recently published report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation titled Does Money Affect Children’s Outcomes? On the basis that there is insufficient research into the causal relationship between income and outcomes for children, the report explores at length and in significant detail the impact that money has on the wellbeing of children. Read full article

EU migrants: David Cameron sets out more benefit restrictions
The Guardian, 28.11.2013
David Cameron made a fresh effort to assuage public concern about a wave of migration from Bulgaria and Romania on Tuesday when he announced a series of benefit restrictions on all EU migrant workers, including a ban on access to housing benefit for all new arrivals and a three-month ban before jobseeker's allowance can be claimed. Read full article

Home Office updates volunteering guidance for asylum seekers
Refugee Action, 21.11.2013
Home Office updates volunteering guidance for asylum seekersFollowing pressure from Refugee Action and NCVO, the Home Office has confirmed that the Immigration Minister Mark Harper had agreed that the guidance ought to be changed to make clear that: 1) Undertaking volunteering is lawful, including for refused asylum seekers and 2) That volunteering for public sector organisations is now permitted as well as for charities and fundraising bodies. Read full article

Vulnerable Young People Fund opens for applications
Third Sector, 11.11.2013
The £2m fund will provide grants to organisations that focus on helping young people with academic performance, getting into work or reducing reoffending. Read full article

Sanctions Data published
The DWP have released data on sanctions from October 2012 to June 2013, showing the numbers of people whose benefits have been suspended temporarily. This is usually due to not conforming with a Jobseekers Agreement (or the new Claimant Commitment that is rolling out in Norfolk between now and March 2014). Read full article

New DWP Appeals Process
With effect from 28th October, a new DWP disputes and appeals process has come into force. The key changes to the appeals process are ‘Mandatory Reconsideration’ (claimant must give DWP the opportunity to reconsider a decision formally before  they’re able to make an appeal), ‘Direct Lodgment’ (claimants must lodge appeals directly with Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) and not DWP) and new time limits. Read full article

The benefit cap just shunts welfare costs on to councils
Claire Kober, The Guardian, 24.10.2013
The benefit cap fails to address the real problems of a lack of jobs, training and affordable housing and childcare, says the leader of Haringey council. Read full article

Universal Credit and the new Claimant Commitment
Department for Work & Pensions, 14.10.2013
Jobseekers began signing the new Claimant Commitment on 14th October 2013. Rugby and Inverness are the first Jobcentres to put it into practice for new claimants of Jobseekers Allowance. The plan is for national roll out to be completed by spring 2014. The Claimant Commitment is a detailed statement agreed between work coaches and claimants which sets out what the jobseeker will do to find work. This will be accompanied by a personal work plan which will be used to record their efforts. They must provide evidence that they have met the requirements in their Claimant Commitment and those that fail to do so "without good reason" may lose their benefits.  Read full article

Legal Aid for Family Mediation – it’s still there!
The Guardian, 30.09.2013
We and others have talked about the reduction of legal aid in social welfare law…maybe too successfully, as firms who are able to offer legal aid for family mediation locally and nationally are reporting that people are not making use of this. Read full article

Insolvency Consultation
Proposals to simplify and reorder existing Insolvency Rules were announced by the Insolvency Service today. Read full article

Dramatic rise in households unable to pay essential bills
StepChange Debt Charity, 26.09.2013
The squeeze on household budgets is undermining the prospects for economic recovery according to StepChange Debt Charity, which has seen a dramatic rise in the number of people unable to pay their rent, energy and council tax bills.   Read full article

New PIP handbook from CPAG
Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) have released a new handbook covering the new Personal Independence Payments (PIP) benefit that is replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA).  Read full article

Research shows impact of sanctions on homeless
Homeless Link, 25.09.2013
A High Cost to Pay, a report published today by the umbrella body Homeless Link, indicates that individuals who have experienced homelessness are being disproportionately affected by benefit sanctions. Read full article

Fife Council decides not to fight ‘bedroom tax’ ruling
The Courier.Co.Uk, 17.09.2013
Fife Council will not contest landmark rulings exempting tenants from the controversial “bedroom tax”. Read full article

Continuing concern around the Lobbying Bill
NCVO, 02.09.2013
NCVO is deeply concerned that changes to non-party campaigning rules in the lobbying bill will severely restrict the ability of charities to speak out on matters of public interest. Read full article

DWP Press release on claimant commitment
Department for Work and Pensions, 29.08.2013
Jobseekers will have to account more clearly for their efforts to find work, as part of the Claimant Commitment. The DWP have outlined what this will mean for claimants in a press release. Read full article

Labour: Welfare reform 'has comprehensively failed'
ITV News, 14.08.2013
Stephen Timms, shadow employment minister, said: "The Government’s welfare reform has comprehensively failed at a time when youth unemployment is edging towards a million, and long-term unemployment is at its highest level in 17 years."The Youth Contract is on course to miss its target by 92 per cent, and the flagship Work Programme has not hit a single one of its minimum performance standards." Read full article

Welfare reforms 'will hit councils'
Express, 12.08.2013
Councils could be forced to cut spending on roads and care for the elderly in order to support households losing out through the Government's welfare reforms, town hall chiefs have warned. Read full article

'Bedroom Tax' leads to rise in Glasgow rent arrears
Glasgow Evening Times, 29.07.2013
Housing associations have reported more tenants falling behind with payments with some expecting even more problems when further reforms kick in later in the year. Across the city social landlords large and small have said since the changes took place more tenants have faced greater difficulty meeting their rent. Read full article

Low Commission due to consult on it's report & recommendations
The Low Commission, 25.07.2013
The Low Commission was established to develop a strategy for access to advice and support on Social Welfare Law in England and Wales. A key part of the Low Commission’s work is to gather evidence and draw on the experience and knowledge of individuals and organisations working in the areas of Social Welfare Law and the advice sector. The Commission will consult on its draft report and emerging recommendations in September.  Read full article

Disabled benefits test: Atos reports found 'unacceptably poor'
The Guardian, 22.07.2013
The Department for Work and Pensions is to bring in additional providers alongside Atos Healthcare to administer the work capability assessment (WCA) for disabled benefits claimants, after a government review admitted that reports by Atos assessors were of unacceptably poor quality. Read full article

Benefit cuts sends number of food bank users soaring
The Independent, 11.07.2013
The new figures emerged a week after Lord Freud, the Welfare Reform Minister, questioned whether there was a link between food bank use and reductions to benefits. The Trussell Trust, which operates 325 banks, said it had supplied three days' emergency food to 152,200 people between 1 April and 30 June, more than three times as many as during the same period in 2012. Read full article

Welfare reform 'has collapsed' after latest delay
The Telegraph, 10.07.2013
Universal credit, the Coalition’s flagship welfare programme, has “collapsed”, Labour has claimed, after ministers scaled back the next phase of the huge reform project.  The “national roll-out” of Universal Credit will now only see the new system running at a handful of JobCentres across the UK this year, ministers confirmed. Read full article

Welfare reform will increase costs, say 95%
Local Government Chronical, 23.05.2013
The government’s welfare reforms will serve as a drain on council budgets, an overwhelming majority of local government chief executives and senior managers believe. Ninety-five per cent of the 156 officers who responded to an exclusive LGC survey. Read full article

Welfare reforms: how their introduction will affect charities
The Guardian, 23.05.2013
The new universal credits and the personal independence payments could place greater demands on the voluntary sector. Read full article

Fitness-for-work tests unfair those with mental health issues
The Guardian, 22.05.2013
The fitness-for-work test used to determine whether hundreds of thousands of people are eligible to claim sickness benefits substantially disadvantages people with mental health conditions, a court has ruled, in a decision hailed as a victory by mental health charities. Read full article

Despair and confusion amid the night shelter funding crisis
The Guardian, 22.05.2013
Narrowgate's good fortune [of a large donation] is far from a sign that the crisis is over for emergency night shelters who are dependent on housing benefit payments for at least part of their income. A number of local authorities across the UK are actively considering the so-called Anglesey judgement, which rules that a temporary night shelter does not constitute a "dwelling" and therefore its residents are not eligible for housing benefit. Read full article

'Benefit cap' Judicial review in the High Court
Hopkin Murray Beskine Solicitors, 22.05.2013
Four vulnerable families have today issued judicial review proceedings in the High Court against the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, challenging the ‘benefit cap.’  The benefit cap policy has been imposed in four local authority areas since 15 April 2013 (including Haringey, where one of these families live) and will be rolled out across the country over the summer.  All affected households across the country are due to be capped by 30 September 2013.  Read full article

Westminster Council spent 3m on hotels for homeless
BBC News, 22.05.2013
Westminster City Council has spent over £3m in six months paying for people waiting for permanent housing to be put up in hotels, figures show. The authority has the most families in long-term bed and breakfasts in London and has had to resort to more expensive hotels to cope Read full article

Poor will suffer from court fee changes, MoJ warned
Law Society Gazette, 21.05.2013
Government plans to means-test waivers for civil court or tribunal fees could impact the most deprived and vulnerable sections of society, the Civil Justice Council has warned... Current fee remissions are automatic for those on state benefits and offered in full for those whose income is less than stated thresholds. Under government plans, from October there will be one single remission system, with lower thresholds to qualify. Read full article

Overwhelming public backing for legal aid: poll
Law Society Gazette, 21.05.2013
Government claims that the legal aid system has lost credibility with the public are rebutted by a survey published today showing that seven out of 10 adults fear that criminal legal aid cuts could lead to innocent people being convicted of crimes they did not commit. Read full article

Universal credit assessments = confusion for leaseholders
The Guardian (Housing Network), 21.05.2013
Universal credit assessments are a recipe for confusion for leaseholders, Recently, the Department for Work and Pensions published notes on how the universal credit will be calculated for payments on service charges where home owners are on a long lease, which offers an interesting insight into just one tiny aspect of how this assessment will work – and provides ample illustration of the possibility for confusion and mis-assessment. Read full article

Legal watchdog warns budget cuts will damage justice
The Guardian (Law), 20.05.2013
The Legal Services Consumer Panel has branded Ministry of Justice proposals to slice at least £220m from the criminal legal aid budget as unfair and likely to damage the quality of representation in courts and police stations. Read full article

Jobseekers and benefits data release postponed by DWP
The Guardian, 19.05.2013
Work and pensions department's figures to show how many people have lost benefits under new sanctions regime. Read full article

UK spends 2bn housing homeless in B&Bs, hostels and shelters
The Guardian, 19.05.2013
Rising private rents, lack of affordable housing, benefit cuts and low levels of home-building force costly short-term solution, investigation finds. The UK has spent almost £2bn housing vulnerable homeless families in short-term temporary accommodation, according to figures that demonstrate the scale of Britain's housing crisis. Read full article

The bedroom tax is wrong, but we cannot afford the status quo
The Harold, 16.05.2013
We cannot afford more of the status quo with its systems and services which increasingly work against instead of with the people they are meant to serve and can condemn people to abject poverty, stigma and isolation rather than providing the helping hand they need to get back on their feet. Read full article

DWP online claimants aspiration is 'achievable'
BBC, 14.05.2013
Pete Searle from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said the goal of 80% of people applying for benefits online was an "aspiration not a target" but was "achievable" over time. Read full article

Welfare reforms have pushed up anxiety levels
OnMedica, 13.05.2013
The government’s welfare reform shake-up has caused anxiety and stress to soar, claims major charity Anxiety UK. Read full article

How has welfare reform changed the job of housing officer?
The Guardian: Housing Network, 13.05.2013
Housing staff now need to be savvy debt collectors and financial advisers, rather than traditional frontline housing officers. Read full article

IDS criticised for 'unsupported' claims on reform success.
The Independent, 09.05.2013
Iain Duncan Smith faced embarrassment after he was chided by the statistics watchdog over claims he made trumpeting the success of a Government key welfare reform. UK Statistics Authority said his claim was “unsupported” by his own department's figures. Read full article

DWP releases April's welfare reform timetable
The Department for Works and Pensions has released a timetable for the Government's changes to the benefits system throughout April. Read full article

Welfare reform: what should the Lib Dems do?
Liberal Democrat Voice, 08.04.2013
Lib Dem ministers have accepted the Coalition's reforms: here's pensions minister Steve Webb last week, for example. Behind the scenes, the party has fought off attempts by Tory ministers to go further, for example ending housing benefit for under-25s or limiting child benefit to the first two children. Even the 1% benefits uprating bill was at least preferable to the Tories’ instinct to freeze it. Read full article

Labour must stop 'ducking' welfare reform, 08.04.2013
The party has opposed many of the the Government's welfare reforms, arguing they will hurt the poor. However, it is under pressure to respond to concerns about the unfairness in the system, as the Coalition argues the majority of people back its efforts to make sure people are better off on work than on benefits. Read full article

Labour turns radical on welfare reform
Financial Times, 08.04.2013
Labour sought to reposition itself as radical on welfare reform on Sunday as it became anxious about losing ground to the Tories on a critical issue for voters. Harriet Harman, deputy Labour leader, said it was “not surprising” that struggling families felt “very resentful for people who are not working”. Read full article

Welfare reform risks recontaminating the Tory brand, 06.04.2013
Labour has now relinquished any claim to welfare reform and once again defines compassion by the size of the benefits cheque. There are hundreds of communities in Britain that can testify to the damage inflicted by this shallow, materialistic approach. Read full article

Welfare reform: 53 pounds a week... You do the maths, 05.04.2013
Life on £55 a week is no stunt for Debbie Garrity. It is laid out in painstaking detail in separate labelled compartments of a plastic box she keeps next to her armchair. Gas £5, Water £4, Bus Pass £12.50, Food £10. Inside a newly labelled - Bedroom Tax - is a crisp £10 note, which means she has had to halve her shopping budget. In the Social Fund section, there is nothing at all. Read full article

Bedroom tax draws ire of British churches
Washington Post, 02.04.2013
Government welfare reforms that include a contentious cut dubbed the “bedroom tax” will cause upheaval for some of Britain's most vulnerable people, religious leaders and anti-poverty activists claim. The measure, which takes effect Monday, ... Read full article

Pensions minister Steve Webb on welfare reforms - video
The Guardian, 01.04.2013
Pensions minister Steve Webb defends the government's welfare reforms, insisting they protect the most vulnerable. He says the current system is unsustainable, with half of what is spent on welfare coming from borrowed money, and difficult choices had ... Read full article

Welfare reform: how much a typical family will lose per week
The Guardian (blog), 01.04.2013
This list of 42 benefit changes, compiled by the the charity Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), gives a clear sense of the vast scale and complexity of the Coalition's welfare reform programme, which is aimed at saving £18bn a year from the social security budget by 2015. Read full article

Welfare reform: will technology be up to the job?
Channel 4 News, 31.03.2013
Welfare reform: will technology be up to the job? Tweet · Geoff White Technology producer. A raft of benefit changes sees the biggest shake-up of the welfare system in a generation. Please wait while this video loads. If it doesn't load after a few ...  Read full article

Poorest set for 'perfect storm' on benefit cuts
The Independent, 31.03.2013
Millions of households will struggle as low-paid workers, disabled people and the unemployed bear the brunt of welfare reform, according to analysis by the housing charity Crisis. It warns that homelessness will rise and queues for food banks will get ... Read full article

The Cost of Putting Ideology Before Reason
Huffington Post UK (blog), 31.03.2013
Welfare is always an issue which seems to invoke impassioned debate. Whether it is the opportunistic politician, the aggrieved tax payer, the excited columnist or disenfranchised claimant. Public discourse on the topic tends to be framed in strong ... Read full article

Scots rally to protest controversial welfare reforms
The Edinburgh Journal, 30.03.2013
Councillor Matt Kerr, Chair of the Scottish Local Government Forum Against Poverty, said: "The welfare reform programme is the single biggest challenge facing Scotland, its people, councils and its economy. This impact report illustrates the depth and ... Read full article

Welfare reforms won't cut Britain's benefit bill
Channel 4 News, 30.03.2013
However, homeless charity Crisis warned that welfare cuts coming into effect next week will heap misery on the UK's poorest families. Mr Duncan Smith has defended government reforms citing the work of the Irish government coping with their beleaguered bailed-out economy. Read full article

Welfare: the IDS reforms are under fire
The Telegraph, 30.03.2013
Trying to sort out the UK's welfare system after decades of rising bills and botched reform was never going to be straightforward. There are so many interest groups to deal with and millions of Britons have come to rely on the benefit system. The ...  Read full article

Universal Credit scheme delayed, 29.03.2013
New blow to Coalition welfare reform as Universal Credit scheme delayed. The new tax system that is the foundation of the Coalition's welfare reform programme has been delayed in the latest blow to the Universal Credit scheme. Tax, taxpayers,HM Revenue ...  Read full article

Housing Assocation launches dedicated welfare reform website
27.03.2013 (Help Understanding Benefits), published by Thames Valley Housing (TVH), provides up-to-date information, advice and support. It includes money saving ideas, answers residents' Frequently Asked Questions and encourages peer support by allowing residents to submit suggestions to a tips page. There is also a short video which offers a simple explanation of the changes to benefits. Read full article

Universal Credit: Who benefits from welfare reform?
BBC News, 26.03.2013
Successive governments have talked about reforming the benefits system and ending the culture of welfare dependency. The Labour government ran into trouble over lone parents' and disabled people's benefits. I remember talking to an employment ...  Read full article

Council leaders launch scathing attack on 'bedroom tax' reform
STV News, 25.03.2013
Council leaders have branded the UK Government's efforts to reform the welfare system "extreme and ill thought-out". Changes to the benefits system are being introduced from April 1 and chief amongst them is a reduction in housing benefit for some ... Read full article

Church of England exercises political power on welfare reform
GlobalPost (blog), 23.03.2013
Two weeks ago, huge headlines were generated when The Sunday Telegraph ran a letter signed by 43 bishops criticizing the Conservative-led coalition government's welfare reform plans. The bishops claimed the plans would, "have a deeply disproportionate impact on families with children, pushing 200,000 children into poverty." Read full article

Welfare reform: Are there 'deserving' and 'undeserving' poor?
BBC News, 13.03.2013
In the debate on welfare changes, the government has championed hard working families against those it says are "sleeping off a life on benefits". The BBC's Graham Satchell reports from one of the most deprived parts of the UK, the Falinge estate in Rochdale, on whether its residents feel there are ''deserving'' and ''undeserving'' poor. Read full article

'Real fear' of welfare reform amongst disabled
BBC News, 12.03.2013
The regulations are found in the The Welfare Reform (Consequential Amendments) (Scotland) Regulations 2013 (SSI 2013/65) and only pertain to people from the pilot area around Manchester moving to Scotland, but they will be the basis of the Scotland-wide regulations to come later. Read full article

New Archbishop Warns Government Over Welfare Reform
The Huffington Post, 11.03.2013
The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has backed criticism of the government's controversial welfare changes, warning they will have a "deeply disproportionate" effect on children. Read full article

Back-to-work ruling 'undermines welfare reform'
The Telegraph, 11.03.2013
A court ruling that calls on the government to scrap its controversial back-to-work scheme risks undermining the Coalition's entire programme of welfare reform, writes Lottie Dexter. Read full article

Welfare reform trial sees rent arrears rise in Torfaen
BBC News Wales, 10.03.2013
Tenants in Torfaen have been taking part in a trial of the government's benefits reforms have seen rent arrears rise seven-fold to £140,000 in seven months. Read full article

Archbishop attacks welfare plans
Financial Times, 10.03.2013
Justin Welby, who will be enthroned at Canterbury cathedral later this month, said society had a duty to support the “vulnerable and in need” and called on the House of Lords to protect children from the impact of the welfare benefits uprating bill when it is debated in the upper house next week. Read full article

Welfare reform will tip the vulnerable into poverty
Guardian Professional, 08.03.2013
Changes to the welfare system could lead to a deep-seated crisis for local government as money is taken away from the most needy, argues Richard Vize.  Read full article

Legal aid: Criminal case cuts planned
BBC News, 05.03.2013
Plans to make further savings to the £2bn bill for legal aid in England and Wales have been announced by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling. Lord Neuberger - the UK's most senior judge - warns that cuts to legal aid in civil cases could make people feel they cannot access justice and could then "take the law into their own hands". Read full article

Debt and homelessness rise in wake of welfare reforms
York Press, 02.03.2013
Charities in York and North Yorkshire say debt and homelessness problems are soaring in the wake of welfare reforms. Read full article

Welfare reforms could spark a decade of destitution
The Guardian Housing Network blog, 26.02.2013
Universal credit could have helped reduce poverty, but its haphazard implementation alongside sweeping changes will put people and businesses at risk.  Read full article

Welfare reform calls for independent council action
Guardian Professional, 25.02.2013
A fair and effective benefits system will depend on devolution of welfare and employment support.  Read full article

Troubleshooter to drive welfare reform
Financial Times, 17.02.2013
One of Whitehall's most powerful troubleshooters has been drafted in to take charge of the government's benefits shake-up as ministers work to keep the Universal Credit project on track. David Pitchford, executive director of the Major Projects, will take the helm of the scheme, which is thought to be on the government’s “watch list” of potentially risky enterprises. Read full article

Full employment and rising wages are the key to welfare reform
New Statesman, 15.02.2013
The truth is major reform of the welfare state is mission critical to rebuilding Britain after the global financial crash; it's crucial to creating a country where we end the trauma of the living standards crisis, and it's crucial to renewing a shared sense that we really are all in this together.  Read full article

Welfare reform or unfair reform?
The Guardian - Housing Network partner zone, 06.02.2013
After months of planning and debate the government is set to implement its reforms to the social welfare system which will impact residents across the UK. Pinnacle PSG's Edith Brannigan and Fasil Raja discuss the impact the government's proposed changes to the benefits system will have on residents.  Read full article

Legal aid cuts threaten Shelter's advice services
Guardian Society, 05.02.2013
Shelter has fought against huge cuts to legal aid, which, during a period of increased demand, are a false economy Read full article

National news roundup for January
Lots of news reports, comment and analysis for January on the subject of welfare reform. Also articles about impact measurement, the imminent effects of austerity, the disadvantages faced by the long-term unemployed in gaining private sector employment and how to tackle negative attitudes towards fundraising costs.  Read full article

National news roundup
News on the Small Charitable Donations bill, a report on impact measurement, and Britain's falling status on the World Giving Index.  Read full article

National and local news roundup
We have pulled together some selected news reports of the last few weeks on Welfare Reform - including:a Christian overview of welfare reform (Huffington Post)one in four people struggling to pay off personal debts (Irish News)Norwich Evening News report following NCAN's recent welfare reform conferencesoup kitchens becoming part of mainstream welfare provision Read full article

National news roundup
A roundup of some of the latest news reports relating to social welfare policy and in particular welfare reform. Read full article

Cyberfraud threatens welfare reform
Cyberfraud and identity theft pose the most serious threat to the implementation of the government's welfare reforms, a government minister said as he outlined potential problems facing the project during the final months of development. Read full article

IDS warned welfare reform 'unworkable and unfair'
Last Sunday’s Telegraph reports that Iain Duncan Smith has been warned that part of his flagship welfare reform is "unworkable and unfair". In a written response to the Universal Credit White Paper the Social Security Advisory Committee has strongly criticised plans to require part-time staff to try to obtain more work or lose their benefits, saying that it is "unrealistic in the current economic climate".  Read full article

Attitudes on immigration and welfare 'toughening'
A study of British social attitudes suggests concerns about immigration and support for welfare reform are growing.  Report author Penny Young said UK attitudes "continue to harden" towards immigration and welfare, with support for even 'deserving' recipients of benefits decreasing.  Read full article

"Welfare reforms unachievable" says Frank Field
In a report in Monday’s Guardian, Government's poverty tsar Frank Field has said that the welfare reform programme, under which most benefits will be rolled into one universal credit, is 'practically unachievable' and heading for disaster.  Read full article

Changes to disabled benefit sanctions
The Government plans to withdraw £71 (out of a maximum allowance award of £99.15 a week) from sick and disabled claimants who fail to adhere to back-to-work agreements with effect from 3 December 2012.  Read full article

Selling off high value social housing?
A new report from thinktank the Policy Exchange says the waiting list for housing could be reduced by 600,000 in five years by selling social housing in expensive places to fund housebuilding in areas that are cheaper. They estimate that selling highest-value properties could generate £4.5bn to build up to 170,000 social homes a year.  Read full article

Welfare reform will hit social tenants hard
New Guardian research reveals that the combination of austerity and welfare reform will hit social tenants hard. The research finds that growing unemployment and cutbacks in grants for education is already leading to worsening levels of economic inactivity and rising rates of benefit reliance among social tenants.  Read full article

Mental health spending falls
Total government expenditure on services down by £150m, the first reduction since 2001, says Department of Health report Read full article

Serco to take charge of 'big society' initiative
Charities warn against bid to run David Cameron's programme for teenagers, the National Citizen Service Read full article

Unpaid work schemes ruled lawful
A high court judge has dismissed Cait Reilly's case, ruling that unpaid work schemes are not a breach of human rights.  Read full article

Disability advice video amended
In a letter to Grayling, the Ministry of Justice courts service said a section of an advice video referring to 'appeals being twice as likely to succeed if the claimant turns up in person' would be removed. Read full article

Impact of Legal Aid Cuts on MPs
“Nowhere else to turn: The impact of legal aid cuts on MPs’ ability to help their constituents” Read full article

Legal aid bill: votes won in House of Lords
Justice for All have announced a breakthrough for campaigners with crucial votes won in the House of Lords. This week the Government were defeated a staggering six times in the House of Lords, as peers slammed the Legal Aid Bill.  Read full article

Does debt advice pay?
The Money Advice Trust has produced a report entitled Does debt advice pay? Read full article

Reform to solicitors announced
Djanogly: Reform to solicitors to give UK consumers greater choice UK consumers and businesses will find solicitors’ firms more competitive, more accessible and more efficient following new reforms to legal services. Read full article