About Sam Ashton

Sam is the Campaigns Officer at Z2K. He is a politics graduate from the LSE and used to work at the Greater London Authority.

London councils pay out £41.5m in ‘incentives’ to private Landlords

Last year the Evening Standard reported on Z2K’s investigation into the growing use of ‘incentives’ by local authorities to secure private rented sector accommodation for homeless households, whether for use as temporary accommodation or to discharge their duty.

We had uncovered this practice through our own Private Rented Sector Access Scheme, where we work to find accommodation for individuals not entitled to statutory help. In a number of instances we had found affordable properties for our clients with Landlords willing to take them, only to be ‘outbid’ by a local authority offering an incentive for the property. Sometimes we would even find ourselves in the midst of a bidding war between two authorities, as each fought to secure the property by offering higher and higher amounts of money.  Continue reading

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!

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

Jerome Rodger’s tragic death underlines the urgent need for Bailiff reform

In January 2016 Jerome Rodger’s was visited by a bailiff. Jerome worked as a motorbike courier and had incurred two £65 fines, one for driving in a bus lane one minute for before he was allowed to do so and one for an illegal U-turn. By the time the bailiff was on his door step Jerome’s two small fines had ballooned to £1,019 in debt as a result of court and bailiff fees. Continue reading