An amazing group of volunteer student lawyers has saved the day for 200 people unfairly deemed “fit for work” by the Department of Work and Pensions.
Not only did these inspiring students help vulnerable people who would otherwise be unable to afford legal advice, they won 95 per cent of the appeals. To put that in perspective, the national success rate for these types of appeals is just 59 per cent.
As if that wasn’t enough, the University of the West of England students have also won £1m in compensation for their clients over the past two years.
Andy King, welfare benefits adviser at the Bristol and Avon Law Centre, told The Lawyer: “Our students have provided much needed legal help to over 200 vulnerable individuals who wouldn’t know where to start in challenging the decision that they are fit for work.
“Due to the cuts in legal aid, we could only help a tiny fraction of that number without the law students.”
There’s been a lot of controversy lately over welfare reforms and the way the DWP tests whether or not people are actually able to work.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that an alarming 2,600 people died within six weeks of being declared “fit for work”, according to the Huffington Post. Over half of those people died after losing an appeal.
The UN has even announced an investigation into human rights abuses caused by the welfare reforms, and there have been calls for DWP minister Iain Duncan Smith to resign.