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UWE and ULaw students overturn 95% of Department of Work and Pensions ‘fit for work’ decisions — hauling in £1million

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Law students 1 – 0 Iain Duncan Smith

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Law student volunteers at a Bristol legal advice centre have successfully appealed 95% of the Department of Work and Pensions “fit for work” decisions they have been assigned to handle.

The students, who are sourced from the University of West England and the University of Law, are part of Avon & Bristol Law Centre’s ‘Legal Advocacy Support Project’.

The scheme itself — which is staffed by the students, who are in turn supervised by trained advisors — defends vulnerable members of society who have been deemed fit to work and have appealed this finding.

Volunteers have helped over 200 people in matters concerning social security and child support payments over the last two years.

With an average rebate of £5,000 for each client, last week saw the centre surpass the £1 million total for welfare benefits won. According to the Bristol Cable, the students’ success rate is 36 percentage points higher than the national average for such cases of 59%. So it appears that the wannabe lawyers are not only key to the project’s success, but potentially Iain Duncan Smith’s worst nightmare.

Figures reported in the Guardian last week showed that between 2011 and 2014 2380 people died shortly after being declared fit to work. Despite those in government dismissing a connection between the stats and welfare reforms, the huge student success rate highlights flaws in the current assessment system — and the growing value of free legal advice centres.

Volunteers for the Legal Advocacy Support Project draft witness statements, request medical evidence, write legal submissions and even represent their clients in front of an appeal judge and a doctor. This hands on approach to learning is clearly a valuable experience for the aspiring lawyers, as all of those taking part in the project who have graduated this summer have bagged firsts.

Second year UWE law student and volunteer Kinga Burzynska said:

The project has improved my legal knowledge, hands-on legal experience and given me invaluable time with clients. It reminds me of what difficulties people have to go through to get their rights. Making a difference to them is highly rewarding.

Andy King, who supervises the law student, highlighted the important role law students play in the scheme:

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. I am confident the law centre can build on the project’s success, helping a lot more people that cannot afford to pay for legal advice.

33 Comments

Clooney's Anal

UWE students can read? Who would have ever guessed it…

(46)(70)

Kuzka's Mother

Be seated.

(12)(4)

Anonymous

Pipe down idiot, they have helped a lot of people.

(40)(6)

Anonymous

What a nasty and uncalled for comment.

(36)(7)

Anonymous

It’s a quip. It’s also broadly correct.

(2)(25)

Dr Lol

This made me lol a lot.

(4)(11)

Dr. Andrew Longbridge QC

Clooney’s Anal, you are what we, in the legal profession, like to call a complete f****** prick. I hope you never find yourself in the position where you require the help being given by these students. We are all just one accident away from falling foul to IDS and the DWP. Let’s hope you never have to eat humble pie over that comment.

(56)(3)

Dr. Whopper McDonald QC MBA FU

Why thank you for putting the naughty lad down with your thoroughly pungent comment old boy. I shall recommend you for an OBE at the next Queen’s Honours immediately.

Tally ho!

(3)(17)

Farts the Clown

Looool, u mad bro?

(1)(4)

Anonymous

In a time where vulnerable people are doing being hit left right and centre the focus should be on the great work that is being done by the students to help them. Not some out of date academic snobbery!

(16)(1)

Figel Narage

Not academic snobbery, just cold, hard facts. UWE shouldn’t be allowed to give out makeup application diplomas, let alone LLB degrees.

(2)(17)

Not Amused

Your point is possibly a good one. I don’t want to talk about UWE specifically because I do not know them. But your general premise, that there is no such thing as academic snobbery, what there is in fact is demarcation of academic ability by institution attended is true. You could though be a bit nicer in the way you say it.

The way universities in England are run are the opposite way that a levels are run. So it is understandable that many people get confused.

With a levels we have in effect one exam, where the questions are all asked at the same level of intellectual challenge, sat by all children in the country at the same time and marked to the same standard. So an A grade at one school is an A grade at another Although we might want to add in other factors such as how disproportionally harder it might be for very under privileged kids to achieve that A, we still have nonetheless one objective system.

With universities we have multiple exam papers and or assessment systems (course work, dissertations, class room assessment etc.). These different ‘tests’ are set at different levels of academic challenge. The level of academic challenge is set by the university itself and as such is subjective. The mark scheme for the test is then run by the university itself. So a paper that gets a 1st at one uni, may well get a much lower grade at a different uni.

I am highlighting this in my own ponderous and boring way because there is increasing pressure in society to be dishonest. Only last week the Guardian ran with a dishonest article which had as a premise the fact that because of the system of external markers, exam marking is not subjective. That is not true. An external examiner from University X does not arrive at University Y and apply the standards and scoring of University X. Instead he or she is given extensive training and advice on the standards of University Y. He/she is then asked to asses the markings of university Y on its own standards and to ensure that they have performed correctly according to their own subjective guidelines.

If you run any academic assessment in this subjective way then what matters for an employer is not the subjective grade. Instead the employer must get to know and have confidence in the institution who set the subjective level for what that grade represents. Thus Britain can either:

1) Stop lying to itself that university attended doesn’t matter; or
2) Run degrees the same way we run a levels.

Incidentally we run medicine degrees like a levels. The argument there presumably being that we must be honest because otherwise lives would be lost.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

Please do not feed the trolls.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

The fact that these students have won against the DWP decisions means that they are competent to be practising lawyers, well done, law clinic students!

(10)(0)

Anonymous

Just piss off!

(3)(0)

Harry Scrots

Judging by all the dislikes, UWE students seems to have turned up in substantial numbers.

(3)(5)

GLS

95% is not 36% higher than 59%.

Nice work though, students.

(7)(7)

Anonymous

Percentage points I think was the meaning.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

It is 36% points higher, as correctly stated in the text…

(6)(0)

Anonymous

pedant.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Well done to all those involved. With the legal aid cuts it’s great to see people getting help with their problems.

Keep up the good work.

(24)(1)

Anonymous

Also highlights the sickening dearth of professional legal services available to those in need of justice.

Thanks Gov’t for both causing the problem and crippling the mechanism for solving it.

(17)(0)

Anonymous

That rule from the Bar Code of Conduct prohibiting a barrister advertising his/her success rate somehow springs to mind.

(0)(6)

Dr. Andrew Longbridge QC

No wonder you want to remain anonymous. “that rule” – which rule? Can’t you recall it. By the way did you read the article. They are law students, so haven’t taken the bar yet; nor decided whether they wish to become solicitors or barristers. So, if you mean the “Code of Conduct for the Bar of England and Wales”, it doesn’t apply. I say well done to them.

(19)(1)

Tim

This is brilliant, I’m really impressed with these students. As a Deaf law graduate, I am aware that this government has embarked on a nasty, full-scale witch-hunt against disabled people. It’s great to see initiatives like this challenging government bullying of disabled people.

I hope other law schools start up something similar. The University of Wolverhampton is also doing well:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/money/students-help-disabled-brits-overturn-6232031

(17)(0)

Anonymous

95%? Seems more like Students 19 – 1 IDS, wouldn’t you say?

(4)(0)

Anonymous

It’s actually students 190 – 10 IDS.

(2)(0)

A shadowy figure

Brilliant!! But should be provided by professional solicitors through legal aid… if so many of the welfare decisions are unlawful imagine how many others could have successfully appealed, but could not find a charity willing to help them… and are now destitute for no good reason

(10)(0)

Not Amused

I support legal aid and want its reintroduction.

But, in the meantime, is there not a business case here for those currently less busy ex LA lawyers?

Average claim 5000. No win no fee. Fixed fee of 500. For 200 claims would be a turnover of 85k on one fee earner at these success rates 42.5k turnover on two. Locate the office somewhere cheap and mass market?

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Is the any 1 helping in Liverpool, cud do with it x

(2)(1)

u wot bro

i bet blud, i cld use sum help wit me legals too. btw. u kno abot any1 who sells gd gak arnd preston? thnx blud

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Big achievement for the UWE Law department, should hopefully help raise there profile a bit.

(15)(0)

fed up person

Wish I had known about all of this as I have just had major run in with DWP as I can plan things and add up wow how does that get me around

(1)(0)

Comments are closed.