Welfare Benefits and Financial Planning
Below are a series of guidance documents relating to welfare benefits, these explain how to complete claim forms effectively and the appeals and tribunal process. The law changes regularly so information contained within is for guidance only and should not be treated as a definitive source of benefit law.
- What Happens at a First Tier Tribunal
- The Work Capability Assessment
- The Appeals Process
- Form Filling
- Effective Representation
- Effective evidence
We have developed a podcast, guides and top tips in relation to Universal Credit. To listen to the podcast or read the guides, click the links below:
- What is Universal Credit – The Basic Facts
- Universal Credit – The Basics
- Universal Credit – Top Tips
There are also a number of useful websites and organisations, listed below, that can also provide you with information and support.
www.gov.uk – Government website. Contains news and information.
www.rightsnet.org.uk – Website of London Advice Services Alliance (LASA). Gives up-to-date news on benefits and other topics. Also includes a ‘toolkit’ section containing legislation, official guidance, case law and other reference material. Access to part of the website is by way of subscription.
www.disabilityrightsuk.org – Website of Disability Rights UK. Has fact sheets covering all benefits, updates, regulations and news items. Has an excellent ‘Guide to Personal Independence Payments’.
www.cpag.org.uk – Website of Child Poverty Action Group. Includes information on welfare benefit matters including a very useful section, Ask CPAG Online which contains information on disputing PIP disability decisions, discretionary housing payments, ESA – the problem areas, mandatory reconsideration, sanctions.
www.turn2us.org.uk – Turn2us is a charity that helps people in financial need to access welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help – online, by phone and face to face through their partner organisations. Includes a benefit calculator.
www.rethink.org – The Rethink Mental Illness Advice Service offers practical help on issues such as the Mental Health Act, community care, welfare benefits, debt, criminal justice and carers rights. They also offer general help on living with mental illness, medication, care and treatment.
www.advicenow.org.uk – An independent not for profit website run by charity Law for Life: the Foundation for Public Legal Education. Provides accurate information on rights and the law. It gives access to clear, effective guidance to help deal with law related issues.
www.entitledto.co.uk – Provides an online benefit calculator to help people determine what they can claim from national and local government. Users can determine whether they are receiving the right amount of money in their benefit claims, whether they are eligible for other types of benefits, as well as understand what their position will be as Government welfare reforms take effect.
www.gingerbread.org.uk – Gingerbread is a charity working with single parent families. Has a helpline and online advice. Topics include: starting work, money advice, relationship issues and benefits.
www.adviceuk.org.uk – AdviceUK does not give advice directly to the public. Their website does, however, have a search facility to identify national organisations and helplines that may be able to assist on a wide range of issues.
www.shelter.org.uk – Shelter is a charity giving housing advice. Website has sample letters to adapt, factsheets and advice guides to download and easy-to-use checker tools to help work out rights
www.birminghamadviceservices.org.uk – Gateway to Birmingham Advice Services (GBAS) is fifteen locally based organisations working together to improve access to advice for everyone in Birmingham. Its Service Directory will help you find the right advice, information or support organisation for your needs.
www.citizensadvice.org.uk – Citizens Advice website has an advice guide covering many areas including benefits, employment, housing, money advice and consumer.
www.rnib.org.uk – Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) website includes a helpline, info about concessions and grants, a benefits calculator as well as benefit and support guides.
www.carersuk.org – Carers UK website provides information and advice on benefits and tax credits, carers employment rights, carers’ assessments, services available for carers, how to complain effectively and challenge decisions.
www.cafamily.org.uk – Website of Contact a Family, a national charity for families with disabled children. Has a freephone helpline which covers any aspect of caring for a disabled child including benefits and sources of financial help, sources of support including groups set up by parents, and services such as aids and equipment. Has access to a translation service. Also has a dedicated SEN (Special Educational Needs) service to advise families on any aspect of their child’s education.
www.thepsu.org – The Personal Support Unit is a charity based in some court buildings including Birmingham (Birmingham Civil Justice Centre, 33 Bull Street). Volunteers provide free support in the civil and family courts and some tribunals, with issues such as contact with children, divorce, eviction and money claims. Their website states: ‘PSU volunteers can……
- listen to you, and provide information and support
- help you find out if you can get free legal advice
- discuss settling issues without going to court
- explain how the court works
- help you fill in court forms and organise court papers
- help you to plan what you want to say in court
- go into court with you, take notes and help afterwards
- provide details of other specialist agencies
Please note that we cannot give legal advice.’
www.local.gov.uk – Contains information relating to welfare reforms including Universal Credit and Local Authority let Universal Credit pilots.
Law for Life Advisory Tools
- User-friendly guide to challenging a PIP decision – available here: http://www.advicenow.org.uk/guides/how-win-pip-appeal
- Interactive tool to help claimants decide if they should ask for a mandatory reconsideration and then helps them write the letter http://www.advicenow.org.uk/pip-tool
seAp Advocacy – Online Help to Prepare for Benefits Assessments
- Digital service from seAp advocacy aimed at helping people going through the process of applying for disability related benefits: www.c-app.org.uk
Loan Sharks and Illegal Money Lending
Produced by the England Illegal Money Lending Team this short film warns of the dangers of illegal money lenders. The film is available in several languages. Click on the links below to watch the film.