Latest News

  • FRU talk to future Pupils
    Tue, 11/28/2017 - 16:51

    FRU Assistant Legal Officer Verity Bell has delivered a talk about FRU to the national pupillage fair on 25 November. See her talk here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyGzJubpmHI&index=5&list=PLNpSsiiKgYVfbENJbhW9a-xs0PKQCRrZ0
    Said Verity “it was a pleasure to explain the benefits of doing pro bono work for FRU to a very interested audience at the national pupillage fair. There was a very encouraging response from attendees after my talk. I look forward to seeing many of those people as FRU volunteers; gaining valuable skills and experience and giving access to justice for FRUs clients”.

  • FRU RECOMMENDS END OF INEFFECTIVE BENEFIT DECISION REVIEWS
    Thu, 11/23/2017 - 09:46

    The Free Representation Unit has recommended the abolition of an ineffective stage in the appeal process for sick and disabled social security claimants.
    In a submission to the Work & Pensions Parliamentary Select Committee the FRU identifies that internal DWP Mandatory Reconsideration invariably lead to little change in the original decision and are therefore a waste of resources and an unnecessary burden on benefit claimants. FRU recommends that removing the review stage would streamline the appeals process, enabling a speedier resolution for hard-pressed claimants and saving the DWP time and money.
    The Work & Pensions Select Committee has issued a call for evidence on the effectiveness of assessment processes used to determine eligibility for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). Both benefits are aimed at supporting sick and disabled people. The Committee will hold hearings and issue a report making recommendations. Currently an appeal to an independent tribunal can’t be made until an internal review of the decision by the DWP has been undertaken.
    In its submission to the Select Committee the charity identifies that the high success rates for claimants in formal appeals – around 70% of cases taken by FRU - suggests that the mandatory reconsideration stage provides little value. Most mantantory reconsiderations rely upon the same medical assessment that the original decision is based upon. In FRU’s experience claimants don’t send additional evidence to the DWP after failing to get a favourable decision, due to a combination of a lack of understanding about the process, the relevance of certain medical evidence, or that they can request new evidence from medical professionals.
    In its evidence FRU states that independent appeal hearings in the Social Entitlement Chamber give an opportunity for claimants to explain their difficulties in front of an expert panel, which often reveals relevant evidence which had not previously been considered. Ultimately, the nature of the inquisitorial powers of the Tribunal (whether in respect of gathering evidence, providing medical, legal and administrative expertise in the context of social security law, or the Tribunal’s ability to take detailed oral evidence from the claimant), allow for a more holistic re-assessment of the Original Decision than the mandatory reconsideration could reasonably be expected to make.
    FRU’s Chief Executive David Abbott said:
    “Last year FRU represented over 450 people in social security appeal tribunals, with most of these cases concerning PIP or ESA decisions. FRU welcomes the Inquiry into PIP and ESA assessments. We have taken the opportunity of the inquiry to draw on our clients’ experience to highlight how the current system can be improved.
    It is unfortunate that so many claimants feel that the decision on their entitlement isn’t right. So long as that is the case FRU recommends that the DWP mandatory reconsideration should be abolished and greater resource put into getting decisions right first time and ensuring that independent tribunals can be an effective route to resolving any disputes.”

    http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/work-and-pensions-committee/pip-and-esa-assessments/written/73548.html

  • Congratulations are in order!
    Fri, 10/13/2017 - 12:31

    FRU has had a baby! Congratulations to Sharon Sneddon, our long-standing office manager who this week had baby Noah. Sharon, Noah and Sharon's husband Tony are all doing well and everyone here looks forward to meeting this next generation FRU volunteer.

  • Fundraising for our Walk the Thames Team 2017
    Fri, 09/29/2017 - 13:40

    FRU put together a team of Staff, including David Abbott, CEO of FRU, for the “Walk the Thames” event, organised by the London Legal Support Trust. Teams of walkers from across the legal profession raised money to support free legal advice services across London. 

    The money raised by our team will go directly to supporting the work of FRU.

    There is still time to support our teams effort. If you haven't done so already, please consider sponsoring them. The walk is 26 miles  on Saturday October 28th . It will most likely be cold and at least sometimes wet.

    Please consider sponsoring our team:

    DONATE HERE

     

  • Autumn Training Days Dates
    Tue, 09/26/2017 - 08:19

    We are pleased to announce that our Autumn training dates are as follows:

    London
    Employment - Saturday 21st October, 10am-4pm
    Booking will open on Wednesday 27th September

    Social Security - Saturday 28th October, 10am-4pm
    Booking will open on Friday 29th September

    There are also limited places available for training sessions taking place in Nottingham: these are for Nottingham Law School students who attend Nottingham Trent University and who are eligible to volunteer.  Students who are interested should contact staff at the University’s Legal Advice Centre for more information.  Details about how and when to apply for places will be circulated by the Legal Advice Centre.