Social Security Casework
The Law Centre's social security legal advice service provides advice and representation on benefit and tax credit issues, generally on referral from frontline advice agencies.
You can find information on benefit rights and entitlements in our rights guide Encyclopedia of Rights, in information briefings, and policy briefings. We also have additional information on migrants' rights.
Keep up to date with welfare reform legislative and policy developments with our welfare reform section.
A code of practice for tribunal representatives can be downloaded from our website (with thanks to the President of the Appeal Tribunals for Northern Ireland for permission to distributed).
It is currently our priority to offer advice on the merits of an appeal to, and representation before, the Social Security Commissioner. This work covers all social security benefits and tax credits dealt with by the Social Security Commissioner. We will pursue appeals to the Court of Appeal and beyond if necessary and undertake judicial reviews in the High Court where appropriate.
We will also aim to represent in social security appeal tribunals which involve a complex point of law or where there is little other representation available, e.g. Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. In some of the Commissioner cases in which we represent, the case will be remitted to a tribunal and we may continue to represent until final completion of the case. Otherwise, we recognise that there is representation in this area by many of our member agencies. We primarily see our role in relation to tribunal representation as one of consultancy support.
We will not accept referral of Social Fund reviews and Social Fund Inspector reviews unless they raise a strategic point of law.
In 2015-2016, we will give priority to:
- cases which involve EEA jobseekers, workers and returning UK nationals affected by the changes made to residence requirements for Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit;
- cases which involve EEA nationals refused benefit on the ‘genuine prospect of work’ assessment;
- testing issues affecting cross border workers and other cross border social security issues;
- testing legal issues arising out of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA);
- advising on issues that may arise from changes to be made by welfare reform in Northern Ireland including Personal Independent Payment, Universal Credit, mandatory reconsideration and the bedroom tax;
- cases involving delays in Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit claims for migrants and the lack of an accessible interim payments system;
- cases involving potential human rights infringement (such as the right to family life);
- cases raising issues in respect of access to justice and/or right to a fair hearing; and
- testing other issues that raise a strategic point of law or are likely to affect a significant number of other claimants.