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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Access to justice and advice sector issues  →  Thread

Legal advice in crisis - free Manchester conference

Paul Treloar
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Head of Policy, LASA

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‘Free Legal Advice in Crisis’ - one day conference

Advice services are in crisis - A threefold change is causing a crisis to the provision of free legal advice:

• Legal Aid is being cut in April 2013 for many areas of social welfare law, including housing, employment, benefits, debt and immigration.
• Many advice organisations, both in the voluntary and public sectors, are facing further funding cuts and reductions in their services.
• At the same time major changes have started to the welfare benefits system and a range of other social rights and will gather pace in the next two years.

These changes will cause severe hardship for a great many people, with the greatest impact on the most vulnerable groups. The cuts in advice services are coming at the worst possible time, as the need for advice massively increases.

Access to Advice are organising this conference:

- to bring together everyone concerned with these matters locally, regionally, nationally
- to share ideas and experience for camapigning for future publicly funded legal advice services.

Your contributions and suggestions will be welcome throughout the day.

The Conference themes

- The Big Picture
- Our Communities
- Campaigns and tactics
- Arguments for future free legal advice services.

The day will be a mix of lead speakers, discussions and workshop sessions.

Lead Speakers

* Steve Hynes, Director of the Legal Action Group
* Julie Bishop, Director of the Law Centres Network
* Lord Bach, leading the opposition to the legal aid cuts in the House of Lords

Will be speaking on the current situation, and ways to argue for and campaign about the need for publicly funded legal advice services.

Workshops

Will discuss particular consequences on the reduction of free legal advice, and lead discussions on future responses to advice needs for key groups and issues:

- Disability and Sickness
- Housing, Employment and Unemployment
- Migrants and BME Communities
- Family and Debt

When and Where

The free conference will be held on Saturday 9 February 2013, 10am to 4pm at Friends Meeting House, Mount Street, Manchester. M2 5NS

The venue is accessible by wheelchair. If you have any particular access needs, please let them know and they will endeavour to meet them. Please book a place by emailing: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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Paul Treloar
forum member

Head of Policy, LASA

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Total Posts: 842

Joined: 6 January 2011

Bump

Paul Treloar
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Head of Policy, LASA

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Total Posts: 842

Joined: 6 January 2011

Just a reminder about this Saturday’s conference, apparently they’re expecting somewhere between 130 and 150 delegates, so it promises to be a lively day of discussion and planning for a post-LASPO world of welfare benefits advice.

Attached is the updated programme, look forward to meeting some of you on the day I hope.

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Gareth Morgan
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CEO, Ferret, Cardiff

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Anybody going to be in Manchester on Friday night who’d like to meet up?

Paul Treloar
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Head of Policy, LASA

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Sorry Gareth, traveling up tomorrow morning at stupid’o'clock early time.

Paul Treloar
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Head of Policy, LASA

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Joined: 6 January 2011

Quick write-up of the event.

Steve Hynes of Legal Action Group gave the opening speech, which looked at the extent and scale of legal aid cuts, the lack of coordinated data about the situation for advice services at local authority level, and some of the possible ways forward (including highlighting the Low Commission).

There were 4 workshops in the morning. I was in the session speaking about disability and sickness issues, along with Patrick Hill (sometimes of this parish) and Tom Royston (a pupil barrister). Amongst the things discussed were the need to encourage clients to use the new discrimination helpline under legal aid (for example, where DWP fails to make reasonable adjustments when assessing), concerns over threats to judicial review and the implications for holding government to account, and encouragement to get clients to use social media to share their experiences to try and influence the wider narrative around welfare reform.

After a sandwich lunch (unexpectedly provided, but very welcome), we heard from Julie Bishop of Law Centres Network give the opening speech of the afternoon. Julie’s address covered the success and failure of the Justice for All campaign, strong criticisms around the Cabinet Office Advice Transition Fund (from both sides of the piece), and closing with observations as to how the advice sector should look to work in future.

Then there were another 4 workshops. I was in the collaboration, networking and competition session with Barbara Guest of Oldham Council and Andy Rawling of GMCVO. Amongst the discussion was the need to be clear, candid and business-like when working together, being clear on what you’re not prepared to do, as well as an acknowledgement that partnership working can be very nourishing in the learning you achieve by working with others. There were warnings about new competitors moving into the advice environment (including housing associations, as well as the obvious private sector companies), and finally an interesting observation that many local authorities are apparently saying that they would like a statutory duty for the provision of advice services being implemented.

The day finished with speeches from Lord Bach and Yvonne Fovargue MP/chair of the APPG on legal aid, who gave suitably stirring addresses. There was a very healthy turn-out of frontline advisers, centre managers and trustees, as well as concerned individuals and it was a generally positive day, considering the challenges that we all face. I think there is an intention to update news and actions arising from the event on the Greater Manchester Welfare Rights Adviser’s Group Access 2 Advice. Thanks to everyone who put it on and who came along to offer contributions and thoughts from the floor, I had a very good day overall.

[ Edited: 28 Feb 2013 at 11:49 pm by Paul Treloar ]
Dan_Manville
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Mental health & welfare rights service - Wolverhampton City Council

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Bump
http://gmiau.org/14-news/62-legal-justice-together-call-for-action-saturday-15-march-2014

It’s on again this year…

If anyone’s going and fancies a wee dram afterward then shout

Paul_Treloar
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Welfare benefits caseworker, Mary Ward Legal Centre

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The organisers might want to consider including the date of the conference on the page that you’ve linked to perhaps?

I won’t be able to make it this year unfortunately, hope it goes well.