Innovative legal advice for front-line organisations

Practice Areas

Issues dealt with include section 4 delays, section 95 delays, failures to conduct Care Act assessments, failures to conduct Children Act assessments, homelessness gate-keeping, suitability of accommodation provided under section 4 and section 95, delays in granting support following decisions, delays in Schedule 10, provision of inadequate accommodation in hotels / barrack accommodation.

 

There is now a new page of precedents arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Plus details of the new procedure to obtain accommodation pending section 4 appeals plus precedent to do this. 

 

About the Scheme

The project came out of the general frustration at the frequency of unlawful government decisions being made that affect destitute migrants. There is simply insufficient numbers of legal aid solicitors to challenge each and every decision, leading to front-line workers having to spend time negotiating, cajoling, and attempting to refer cases where government decisions are clearly and unambiguously unlawful.

 

The PAP idea has been trialled with a small group of destitution workers at the British Red Cross in London, and it is fair to say the project works incredibly well! The Red Cross workers are immensely enthusiastic about the project. They report it takes less time to do the work under the scheme than the negotiations they had previously done, and the outcomes are much better. Over the course of the last year just from the work done by this small team over 60 individuals and families being housed or rehoused directly as a result of the scheme. Additionally, since the scheme was commenced, the British Red Cross report that for particular issues there was systemic improvement in the way the Home Office dealt with cases.

 

The idea of the project is that the front line workers with ongoing supervision from DPG solicitors prepare formal "pre-action protocol" letters – called PAPs – which means if the government does not reverse their decision after receiving the letter, proceedings can be issued without further reference. As a result, government takes notice of these letters. Precedent letters have been prepared in an easy to adapt format. The scheme relies on the front line workers completing the precedent letters which they can do from their knowledge of the client’s circumstances, and then DPG solicitors checking and supervising the letters before they are sent off to make sure that they are legally correct. This last bit is vital, as if the PAPs are poorly prepared, it undermines the integrity of the scheme and could fatally undermine it. In the rare cases where PAPs do not result in decisions being reversed, we will help you to find a legal aid solicitor to take on the cases. Because these cases will go straight to litigation, getting a legal aid solicitor to deal is much easier.

 

The Barings Foundation have funded a project to offer e-learning courses to front-line workers to enable them to prepare the pre-action letters, under supervision from DPG solicitors. The ongoing supervision is also funded by Barings. The e-learning course takes around five hours to complete, and can be done over the course of four weeks. The learning is split into different courses, and each course has an assessment module at the end to ensure that the issues are understood. Once the e-learning course is complete, the precedent letters can be downloaded, and the front line workers will be able to prepare the letters. It is a central part of the scheme that each and every PAP letter sent is checked by DPG solicitors before being sent off. This can be done by emailing it to DPG solicitors who will check and supervise it within a couple of hours. In urgent cases, more quickly. The funding also covers a seminar that will take place by Skype to discuss any issues that have arisen from preparing the PAPs.

 

In order to participate in this scheme we will need the names and email addresses of people from your organisation who wish to enrol on the project. Your organisation will also need to agree to ensure that everyone in your organisation involved in the scheme understands and agrees that only people who have done the training prepare the PAPs, and that each of the PAP letters will be checked with DPG solicitors before being sent. Please ask the person who can provide this formal agreement on behalf of your organisation to email :

 

Once this is done we will ask you for details of the people who wish to do the training and start preparing the PAP letters and we will send them enrolment details for the e-learning course.