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News

We're hiring: Support Worker to Social Security Legal Adviser

With funding from the Department for Employment & Learning’s Access to Work scheme; we are recruiting a Support Worker to assist a Legal Adviser in our Social Security unit.

The post will have a fixed term contract through to 30 June 2018 which may be extended if further funding is secured.  Amongst other essential criteria candidates must have:

  • Experience of providing administrative support to a caseworker or adviser in a legal casework environment
  • Good oral and written communication skills and be able to read aloud in an articulate manner.
  • At least 1 year of office experience in a paid or voluntary capacity

The post is for 15 hours per week (Expected to be 3 hours per day Monday to Friday mornings) and is paid at a rate of £7.85/hour.

Apply by 1 September. Application pack here 

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A deserving winner for our Social Justice Prize

Congratulations to Ms Aurime Ribaxiauskaite who won the Social Justice Prize at this year’s University of Ulster School of Law Prize Giving Day.

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Read more: A deserving winner for our Social Justice Prize

   

Supreme Court rules on DLA for children in hospital

Advisers may be interested to hear about this GB case which, according to the Supreme Court, 'may pave the way for many other disabled children to establish the same entitlement'.

The Supreme Court ruled that the withdrawal of Disability Living Allowance following a child being in hospital in excess of 84 days can be a breach of human rights. The Court did not strike down the rule as a whole but stated that there is a potential breach and that each case should be assessed on its facts. 

Read the decision here: [2015] UKSC 47

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STEP NI is looking for an immigration law adviser

See STEP advert below:

Immigration Law Advisor

STEP is a community support organisation and registered charity authorised by the Law Society (NI) to provide Legal Services in relation to Immigration, Housing, Employment, Education and Discrimination and Social Welfare. Located in the Mid-Ulster Council area, a significant area of our work is to provide legal advice on immigration and immigration related entitlements and limitations.

We currently have a vacancy for an immigration advisor qualified to OISC level 3.

Salary: £27k - £30k depending on level of qualification and experience.

Hours: 37.5 hours per week

Responsible to: Service Development Manager (Clients and Quality)

Responsible for: Provision of Immigration law advice and representation of clients

For an application form – please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

or telephone 028 8775 0211 quoting job ref: ILA2015.

Closing date for completed applications: Monday 24th August at 5pm. Interviews will take place the first week of September.

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August training at the Law Centre

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Want to be an apprentice solicitor at the Law Centre?

Apprentice solicitor 2015, Carolyn Rhodes

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UK government to cut vital support to asylum seeking families

The Law Centre is opposed to Home Office plans to cut support to asylum seeking families, due to come into effect on 10 August.

All asylum seekers awaiting a decision on their claim will now receive a flat rate of £36.95 per week per person*, whether they are adults or children.

Single parent families will be hit hardest: 

  • a single parent with one child will get £73.90 per week, compared to £96.90 now.
  • a single parent with two children will receive £110.85, compared to £149.86.
  • a couple with two children will receive £147.80. They currently receive £178.44.

The additional payments given to pregnant women and children under three will still be available. Pregnant women will continue to receive an additional £3 a week and very small children will continue to receive an additional £5 a week until the age of one, and £3 a week between the ages of one and three.

Concerns

The Law Centre has stressed its concerns with the current levels of support - well below what a family on benefits is expected to live on - in a previous briefing which described the negative impact on children’s health, education and long-term prospects. Read it here: Policy Response to Inquiry into Asylum Support for Children 

We are concerned that this reduction in support will further compound the issues for families, particularly single-parent families who will lose around a quarter of their income.

The Children’s Society has recently published a useful briefing on this issue. Read it here: Children's Society Asylum Support Briefing

 

The Refugee Council has called on government to abandon its planned cuts until it has commissioned an independent review into the fairness of current asylum support levels.

Right to work

We are mindful that the majority of asylum seekers do not want to be reliant on the asylum support system at all. They would much prefer to be self sufficient. Unfortunately, the UK government refuses to allow asylum seekers to work. The Law Centre believes that granting permission to work is the right approach here. It would bring innumerable benefits for individual asylum seekers and their children. It would also generate money for the government through workers paying taxes and would reduce expenditure on asylum support. It really is a win win solution.

* To compare, in Northern Ireland, a single adult under 25 entitled to Income Support or Income Based Jobseeker’s Allowance receives £57.90 per week, £73.10 per week if over 25. 

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Call for volunteers!



The Law Centre's Legal Support Project (LSP) is recruiting volunteers to undertake representation in social security appeals and industrial tribunals.

Details of the LSP’s work and how to apply are here.

Applications should be received by 28 August 2015.

The LSP is running its next two day social security training programme on 15 and 22 September 2015.

If you have any queries about this volunteering opportunity please contact Sinead Mulhern, Head of Legal Support Project:

Phone 028 9043 5050

Email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

lsp-logo-for-web

 

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Mental Capacity Bill: respecting our humanity

"What is the ‘problem’ the Bill aims to solve? It is not complex. We are fragile creatures. We break down, parts of us stop working (for a short while or for good), some things may never have worked entirely well. This fragility is fundamental to our vulnerable humanity." 

Colin Harper, our Assistant Director (Community Care and Mental Health Policy), explains in Scope NI why the new Mental Capacity Bill is important for all of us, and how it will help safeguard the human rights and equality of anyone who has impaired decision making capacity, whether permanent or temporary.

You can read the article here: http://scopeni.nicva.org/article/complex-solution-simple-problem

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Law Centre hosts roundtable on strategic litigation for social change

Speakers at Public Interest Litigation Workshop at Law Centre (NI)

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Learning from Scottish Welfare Reform Committee

Left to right: Ursula O'Hare, Michael McMahon MSP, Alex Maskey MLA, Grainne McKeever, Glenn Jordan

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Advisers and ESA staff roundtable at practitioners' meeting

Social security advisers and ESA staff around the table at Law Centre's social security practitioner meeting

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Celebrating Refugee Week

Access to healthcare event

The Law Centre celebrated Refugee Week 2015 by speaking at the launch of the week at Belfast City Hall, and running two events of our own.

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New cohort complete WRAP course

WRAP training officer Eamon Doherty and trainees June 15

Congratulations to advisers from Mencap, East Belfast Independent Advice Centre, South Tyrone Empowerment Programme and ACT who have completed our Welfare Rights Adviser Programme. 

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Health and Social Care (Control of data processing) Bill going for Assembly debate today

The Law Centre welcomes second stage consideration of the Health and Social Care (Control of data processing) Bill today. This is an important piece of legislation with the policy objective of making provision for the control of data processing in relation to health and social care.

The functioning of the health and social care system in Northern Ireland requires the processing of confidential information relating to individual patients and service users for reasons other than the direct provision of care and treatment to those individuals. Examples of such processing include: auditing the quality of service provision; service planning; billing of organisations providing services to H&SC under contract; and identifying and monitoring the health and social needs of the population of Northern Ireland. There has been a long term legislative gap in Northern Ireland with respect to such processing (Westminster legislated to address this gap in the Health and Social Care Act 2001).

The Explanatory Memorandum makes clear the important policy intent of the Bill: “Providing a clear statutory framework, and robust and stringent safeguards, which will enable the use of health and social care information which identifies individuals to be used for medical or social care purposes which are designed to benefit health and social care, or achieve some other tangible benefit that might reasonably be described as a public good, without the consent of the individuals whose information may be used.”

The Law Centre welcomes the introduction of this important legislation and is supportive of its general principles. We have some concerns about achieving the right balance which needs to be struck in the details between the public interest in the protection of confidentiality and the public interest in the efficient and effective provision of health and social care. We believe that these concerns can be addressed through Assembly scrutiny and amendment of the Bill as entered.

More information on the Law Centre's views on the Bill here: http://www.lawcentreni.org/Publications/Policy-Responses/LCNI-response-to-Consultation-on-use-of-HSC-information-for-secondary-purposes.pdf 

Or you can contact Colin Harper, Assistant Director (Mental Health and Community Care Policy)  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  for more information on the Law Centre's position.

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Extra statutory scheme for ESA claimants moving between GB and Northern Ireland

The Law Centre helped secure ESA payments for a man who had had his benefit stopped when he moved to Northern Ireland from England.

When he moved to Northern Ireland from England he expected that his claim for Contributory ESA (support group) would be transferred.  He suffers from severe medical problems and had recently passed the Work Capability Assessment in England.  After he moved he found it difficult to get information on what to do and he was told that he would need new medical evidence to support a fresh claim.  When he contacted the Law Centre he was facing street homelessness due to the delay in dealing with his application. 

The Law Centre was able to contact the Social Security Agency directly and payments were quickly made under the extra statutory scheme that was set up as a result of earlier Law Centre cases to pay those affected by the failure to include ESA in reciprocal arrangements between NI and GB.

As a result of this case, SSA has assured us that information will be made available on NI Direct in relation to the extra statutory scheme and how to access it.

The Law Centre has also been assured by the Department for Social Development that ESA will be included in amendments to the reciprocal arrangements in the course of welfare reform.

You can read more about past cases which led to the extra statutory scheme here and here.

Advisers who would like more information on the scheme are welcome to contact our advice line or to discuss this at practitioner meetings.

Practitioner meetings

We have two social security practitioner meetings coming up:

Wednesday 1 July, 11.00am, Law Centre (NI) Training Room, 124 Donegall Street, Belfast

Tuesday 7 July, 2.15pm, Law Centre (NI) Western Area Office, 9 Clarendon Street, L'Derry

All advisers and practitioners are welcome

RSVP to  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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First Mayor of Derry and Strabane visits Law Centre

First Mayor of Derry and Strabane visits Law Centre's Western Area Office

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Job opportunities at Citizens Advice NI

Citizens Advice NI has three exciting new career opportunities:

Pension Wise Head of Project and Contract - applications deadline 19 June

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Deputy Director (Finance and Transformation) - applications deadline 3 July

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Deputy Director (Services and Membership) - applications deadline 3 July

Read more

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ESA to be discussed at Social Security Practitioner meetings

Law Centre (NI) practitioner meetings coming up on:

Wednesday 1 July, 11.00am, Law Centre (NI) Training Room, 124 Donegall Street, Belfast

AND

Tuesday 7 July, 2.15pm, Law Centre (NI) Western Area Office, 9 Clarendon Street, L'Derry

Discussion topic: Employment and Support Allowance

With Tracey McCloskey - manager of ESA Office, Belfast and a decision-maker

Participants will be able to share concerns and discuss case studies.

All advisers and practitioners welcome

RSVP by Friday 25 June to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Refugee Week Belfast 2015

 Refugee Week logo

Download the full programme here.

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Read more: Refugee Week Belfast 2015

   

Page 9 of 29

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