LEGAL AID TO END
It is looking increasingly likely that legal aid for most welfare benefits issues is to end.
As was widely predicted, the coalition have overturned a House of Lords amendment (Members only) to the Legal Aid bill which would have reinstated legal aid for welfare benefits. Equally unsurprisingly, they have used the ‘financial privilege’ convention in an effort to try to prevent the Lords reinstating the amendment.
There will be a few small exceptions where legal aid will still be available for benefits, but the effect will be to make it very much harder to get free advice from advice agencies and law centres once the changes are introduced in April 2013.
RECORDING DLA MEDICALS
Chris Grayling, minister for employment, has confirmed in a letter to a member’s MP (Members only) that claimants having DLA medicals at a medical examination centre can ask to have them recorded for free in the same way that ESA claimants can. We’ve published a copy of the letter, minus the House of Commons emblem, in the members area in case you wish to download it and include it with your request.
In response to a separate freedom of information request the DWP have also finally admitted that secretly recording your medical is not against the law (External link). In the past they have always darkly hinted that such recordings may lead to legal repercussions. However, there is still the danger that the medical may be ended if the health professional discovers they are being recorded.