Training Breakdown (sample)

Pro Bono Community offers training in a range of legal disciplines and formats and this breakdown outlines a sample welfare benefits law for volunteers programme which consists of 10 lectures and begins with an introductory component before focusing on a series of welfare benefits law topics:



Background, Legal Aid and the Role of Volunteers

Background to Law Centres and the advice sector; advice providers and pro bono bodies; legal aid eligibility, its scope and the legal aid eligibility calculator; triage and the role of volunteers; confidentiality, ethics and professional conduct.


Assessing Clients and Practical Skills

Identifying clients’ issues and dealing with difficult clients – problems and practical suggestions; interview techniques; triage techniques; referrals and signposting; distinguishing between legal and non-legal issues; listening and reading client exercises.


Introduction and Context of Welfare Reform

Benefits in context and overview of the benefits system (contributory benefits, means-tested benefits and other benefits); recent welfare reform; special rules for special groups including students and migrants; overlapping benefits; different benefit agencies and useful resources.


Benefits for People Unable to Work Due to Sickness or Disability

Statutory Sick Pay; Employment and Support Allowance (contributory and income-related); the Work Capability Assessment; “limited capability for work” and the work-related activity group; “limited capability for work and work-related activity” and the support group; how to claim ESA; disability and poverty.


Help with Housing Costs

Types of help with housing costs; who can and cannot get Housing Benefit; how much Housing Benefit; private-rented accommodation and Local Housing Allowance; social housing; bedroom tax; the benefit cap; claims, backdating and payment; discretionary housing payments; Council Tax support; help with mortgage interest.


Unemployed and Low-Paid Work

Income Support (who can claim, how much, Income Support applicable amount); Jobseeker’s Allowance (contribution-based and income-based); cohabitation; how to claim Income Support and JSA, backdating and payments; sanctions and challenging sanctions; hardship payments; Working Tax Credit.


Other Benefits for Other Groups

Benefits restrictions for non-European nationals (including asylum seekers); benefits restrictions for European nationals (including returning British citizens); Pension Credit (eligibility and calculations); benefits for children and those aged 16 and 17 years old; benefits for students; benefits and maternity.


Benefits for Disabled People

Disability Living Allowance; Personal Independence Payment (how it works and why it is being introduced); similarities and differences between PIP and DLA (including aids and appliances and fluctuating needs); DLA transfers to PIP; Attendance Allowance; Carer’s Allowance.


Advocacy, Appeals and Reconsiderations (Part 1)

How social security law is made; case law references; claims and written decisions; revision vs supersession; revision and official error; problems with DLA supersession; ESA and revision; mandatory reconsideration; appeals (including how to appeal, where to lodge an appeal and late appeals).


Advocacy, Appeals and Reconsiderations (Part 2)

Preparing for a tribunal; DWP medical evidence; tribunal procedure; appealing to the Upper Tribunal (first steps and grounds); Advocate’s “implicit consent”; how to provide effective representation; complaints; tax credits appeals and complaints.


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