Benefit appeals and people charging for advice

We have issued the following press release today, alongside colleagues from Coventry Citizens Advice and Central England Law Centre, in response to recent enquiries from local residents who are being charged for benefits advice by other individuals and organisations in the city.

Welfare reform has meant changes for many people claiming benefits. The welfare benefit system is complicated. It’s easy for both claimants and officials to make mistakes that lead to serious problems and a loss of money.

Advice Services in Coventry can provide FREE advice to help with these problems.

Kate Algate, Chief Executive of Coventry Citizens Advice said “If your benefits have stopped or they’ve been reduced and you think the decision is unfair then get in touch. We can help you work out if you can appeal that decision and we can help you submit the appeal”

Appeals are a two-stage process. The first stage is to submit a request for a ‘mandatory reconsideration’. If that’s unsuccessful then there is an opportunity to appeal to a tribunal.

Alan Markey, Director of Coventry Independent Advice Service, said “We run services in your local community. We can also help you submit appeals. We’re aware that there are people charging for this help. The services of all Advice Services Coventry partners are FREE.”

Both organisations have quality-marked services and their help is free. If you need to make a second appeal to a tribunal, they will refer you to Central England Law Centre, who provide free representation at the tribunal.

Sue Bent, Chief Executive of Central England Law Centre, said “We know that people worry about going to a tribunal. We’ll work with you to present your evidence and we’ll be there with you at the tribunal. This year, we have been successful in 90% of appeals for Personal Independence Payment, 96% of appeals for Employment Support Allowance and Universal Credit and 100% of appeals for Disability Living Allowance.”

In 12 months over £3.2 million in backdated welfare benefits and weekly benefits has been paid to people in Coventry that we helped through the appeals system.”