National News Roundup

Links to national reports, commentary and analysis relating to social welfare policy and the advice sector generally.


PLP’s Project on Benefit Sanctioning
23.09.2017
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 s.misra@publiclawproject.org.uk.  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. 
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Shelter Debt Advice for Debt Advisers Team
23.09.2017
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 https://england.shelter.org.uk/professional_resources/debt_advice
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New early support for children with mental health problems
23.09.2017
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.
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Making Every Adult Matter report 'Multiple Needs'
23.09.2017
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.
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Final Bach Commission report on Access to Justice
23.09.2017
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.
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Inclusive Economic Partnership Funding
07.09.2017
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.
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Delivering on Universal Credit
07.09.2017
Citizens Advice have released a report on the roll out and the potential financial risk to 7 million households.
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New family migration guidance published by the Home Office
07.09.2017
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: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/636615/Appendix_FM_Section_1.0a_Family_Life_as_a_Partner_or_Parent_-_5-year_rou....pdf
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Fund to help women set up a new home after family breakdown
23.08.2017
Please note the Eaton Fund offers contributions to women in the UK setting up a new home after family breakdown.
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Birmingham Study of litigants in Person
23.08.2017
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; 
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Support of last resort
23.08.2017
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.
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Webinar: Homelessness and Housing Allocations
16.08.2017
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.
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Gingerbread guidance regarding Tax Credits
16.08.2017
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.
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SMI will be a loan from 2018
16.08.2017
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.
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Foodbanks Report Highlights Impact of Welfare Changes
16.08.2017
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
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The Legal Education Foundation project legal problems & health
07.08.2017
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).
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JRF Video on Poverty, evictions and forced moves
07.08.2017
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.
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Migration Advisory Committee - call for evidence
07.08.2017
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. 
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Immediate hardship payments for homeless JSA claimants
07.08.2017
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.
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CPAG's Advice Service for Advisers
07.08.2017
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.
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Budgeting Loan Applications - Message from Regional DWP
07.08.2017
Historically, September to December is a peak time of year for Budgeting loan applications, seeing a surge in the volume of claims. Although gov.uk 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
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ILPA – Brexit information factsheets
07.08.2017
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.
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Bar Standards Board - new guidance for the public and for prof
07.08.2017
The Bar Standards Board has published two new guidance documents on immigration and asylum issues. 
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The government needs to pause rolling out Universal Credit
13.07.2017
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.
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Success for Attendance Allowance Campaign
01.02.2017
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.
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Autumn Statement & Welfare Benefits
29.11.2016
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."
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Fund for Local Authorities to increase refuge spaces
29.11.2016
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.
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Controlling Migration Fund Launched
29.11.2016
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.
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Lasa- Online welfare benefits casework support
03.11.2016
If you provide advice on welfare benefits, check out the online casework support available via Lasa’s rightsnet website www.rightsnet.org.uk 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!
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Transforming our justice system: consultation
28.10.2016
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)
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Behavioural Science view on accessing benefit entitlement
27.10.2016
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.
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Government review into Council Tax Support launched
10.12.2015
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.
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DWP Autumn Updates on Universal Credit and PIP rollouts
02.12.2015
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.
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Immigration Bill 2015-2016 - Committee Stage Report
02.12.2015
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.
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Work and Pensions Committee - Ongoing Inquiries
18.11.2015
Details of ongoing inquiries by the Work and Pensions Committee into: Local Welfare Safety Net, Welfare to Work, Benefit Delivery
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Welfare Reform and Work Bill - Library Note
18.11.2015
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). 
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JRF - Report on Paying Care Workers the Living Wage
02.11.2015
Joseph Rowntree Foundation report on the cost and benefits of paying low-paid care workers the Living Wage. 
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ONS - Index of Private Housing Rent and Population Projection
02.11.2015
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.
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VCSE Review - Interim Report on Health and Well-Being
28.10.2015
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. 
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Inter-Departmental Ministerial Report on Modern Slavery
28.10.2015
This report provides an assessment of modern slavery in the UK and explains the UK's response to this over the past 12 months.
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AdviceNow - information on the law and your rights
28.10.2015
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.
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Immigration detention in the UK: an overview
09.09.2015
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.
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NCAN features in Low Commission follow up report
21.04.2015
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.'
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Further consultation on Universal Credit
07.01.2015
There is a further consultation on draft Regulations regarding Universal Credit data sharing between DWP and local support providers.
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National Updates Archive