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.