Z2K on the London Legal Walk 2017

A team of eighteen Z2K staff, volunteers, trustees and supporters participated in the 2017 London Legal Walk to raise vital funds for our much needed services. This year 12,000 walkers in 700 teams joined the walk, all raising fund for free legal advice charities in London and the South East.

The weather could not have been better, with glorious sunshine beaming down as we set off from outside the Royal Courts of Justice. What is particularly enjoyable about the walk is seeing the entire legal sector come together to raise money. Teams from every major law firm and chambers join together with law centres, local citizen’s advice bureaus, other advice agencies, for a 10km walk across London. Since the cuts to legal aid this fundraising is more important than ever before.

As is usually the case the Z2K team immediately split into several different groups, divided by their different walking speeds. Our chair, Mick, was leading from the front with his brisk pace but others took more of an amble, slowed down the presence of a four legged friend, who engendered much admiration from fellow walkers.

So far we have raised over £17,000 from 66 donors, with more to come in. If you haven’t yet donated please do so here. We’re already looking forward to next year!

Westminster council Housing Benefit assessment confusion

As a complaint caseworker, it is my job to identify trends where organisations have persistently made the same mistakes. A growing trend among my work is the mis-management by local authorities of assessing peoples’ housing benefit who are self-employed or have a fluctuating income.

There is a growing reluctance amongst local authorities such as Westminster Council to apply the Right to Reside test fully for EU housing benefit claimants. Westminster Council housing benefit assessments processes for those on fluctuating income often take several months to assess. Over the period of the assessment the claimant is bombarded with requests for repeat information, questions asked are often unspecific, leading to further more detailed information needing to be provided. Questions asked are often irrelevant to the requirements of assessing people for right to reside status. Continue reading

DWP admits to 80% Mandatory Reconsideration target

It has long been suspected by many that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has set targets for certain decision, whether that be the number of sanctions imposed or claimants found fit for work. But in a recent response to a Freedom of Information request the Department actually disclosed that it has a target for the number of Mandatory Reconsideration (MR) decisions that are upheld.

MR was introduced in 2014 for all benefits where there is a right of appeal to the Social Security and Child Support Tribunal, including Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP). Previously, if you disagreed with a DWP decision you could appeal to the tribunal, who would look at it again. Now you must first ask the DWP to ‘reconsider’ their decision before appealing. Continue reading

Vacancy: Casework Support Volunteer

Title: Casework Support Volunteer

Reports to: Volunteer Manager/ project co-ordinator

Commitment: 1 day a week for a minimum of 3 months

Location: Z2K or South West London Law Centres Offices (to be discussed at interview)

Purpose: To assist the caseworker on the Stepping Stones project in providing vulnerable debtors with free and confidential support, advice and information. To operate within Zacchaeus 2000 Trusts (Z2K) & South West London Law Centre policies and procedures. Continue reading

Vacancy: Right First Time Volunteer

Using complaints procedures to achieve better outcomes for our clients

Title: Complaints Caseworker Support Volunteer

Reports to: Volunteer Manager/Complaints caseworker

Time Commitment: 2 days a week Monday to Friday.

Location: Z2K offices in Victoria or Queens Park

Closing Date: 26th May at 5pm

Purpose: To provide assistance to our full-time caseworker who manages our Right First Time complaints project. The purpose of the volunteering roles is to assist with the promotion and liaison with other advice agencies and organisations, handle basic complaints again social welfare and housing services, follow up on outstanding cases, collate monitoring information and provide ideas and feedback on complaint responses. Continue reading