THIS PAGE - DOMESTIC
VIOLENCE OR ABUSE - ADVICE, SUPPORT AND CHANGES TO LEGAL AID/ARTICLE
Jan 2011 - Flexible working legislation extended to parents
of children under 18/The BT Passport Scheme/ACCESS
TO WORK - ARE YOU ENTITLED TO ACCESS TO WORK ASSISTANCE?
AND LEGAL AID
If you are suffering from
Domestic Violence or Abuse you can call the Women's Aid National Domestic
Violence Helpline it's open 24 hours a day and it's a FREE call - 0808
Or check the Women's Aid
website for the Survivors Handbook and advice
on how to protect yourself from Digital Stalking.
Copy and paste the following link;- http://www.womensaid.org.uk/
Legal aid cuts:
What has changed? June 2013
Significant changes to civil legal aid
in England and Wales came into effect on 1 April 2013, as part of a plan
to reform the system and save £350m a year.
The changes meant some types of case were
no longer eligible for public funds - including divorce, child contact,
welfare benefits, employment, clinical negligence, and housing law except
in very limited circumstances.
Critics warned that the changes would
be damaging. So, a few months after the changes have been introduced,
what has actually happened?
Since April nearly all family law advice
has been removed from the legal aid scheme. This means people can no longer
get funding for divorce or child contact or residence disputes.
"I recently had a case involving
a four-year-old and a six-year-old where the four-year-old was being kept
by his father after contact as and when he pleased," says Rebekah
Wilson, a family barrister from Tooks Chambers in London.
"The four-year-old was very unsure
about where he lived and who he lived with. Prior to 1 April the mother
could have got legal aid but now she probably doesn't get it."
The changes mean victims of domestic violence
must have proof before they can get legal aid for family cases.
Cathy Barton, a family lawyer from Somerset, says that is problematic.
She recently turned away a woman who said she had been raped by her partner,
and who wanted legal advice regarding the breakdown of her relationship,
because she didn't have medical proof that she had been abused.
"For us to have to send her away and say come back with some
medical evidence was just entirely contrary to all of our beliefs and
ways of working," says Ms Barton. "She hasn't come
back to us yet."
Getting the relevant evidence can be expensive.
A doctor's letter costs about £50, a memorandum of conviction £60
and a police disclosure £75.
"For my client who has no access
to any money - or for a woman who has no recourse to public funds - she
can't find £50 to pay for a doctor's letter," says Cris
McCurley, a partner at Ben Hoare Bell Solicitors in Sunderland, who represents
vulnerable migrant women.
But the government says that it has made
every effort to ensure that victims of domestic violence are getting the
necessary legal help.
"I spent a year on Laspo [Legal
Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012] and three times
I moved the definition of domestic violence to be absolutely sure that
we brought within the scope anybody who is genuinely affected by domestic
violence," Justice Minister Lord McNally told Law In Action.
Plugging the gap
Some lawyers argued that changes to civil legal aid would lead to more
people representing themselves in court - so-called "litigants in
person" - which would slow down the court system.
Although the precise number of litigants
in person is unobtainable, anecdotal evidence suggests there has been
"I have noticed since 1 April
that there are more people in person, it slows the proceedings down and
litigants in person have tended to be men," says Rebekah Wilson,
a family barrister from London.
Funding for legal advice and representation
for routine housing claims was removed from 1 April. Pete Moran, a development
officer at Cumbria Law Centre, says that means legal help may now come
He recently worked with a client who had
employment, benefits and housing issues but Cumbria Law Centre could only
offer legal help once he was at risk of losing his home.
"We often used to do a piece
of legal aid-funded work for less than £160 to help a family facing
homelessness. The collateral cost we understand of a family becoming homeless
is between £14,000 and £30,000 for the public purse,"
says Mr Moran.
The government says the consequences of
the changes to civil legal aid have not been as bad as the critics suggest.
"We have not found the kind of
damage or destruction that they have alleged or forecast," says
Some organisations are indeed finding
new ways to plug the gap left by the removal of civil legal aid.
"We're in the process of finding that money and it's going relatively
well. Mainly this is coming from small grant-making charities, in some
cases from housing associations. So, bit by bit, we're moving towards
a new funding model," says Mr Moran.
It is still too early for a full assessment
of the impact of the changes to civil legal aid. The above testimony is
impressionistic and based on the public's response to an invitation by
the BBC Radio 4 programme Law in Action to share their
experiences of the changes.
The BT Passport Scheme –
Information for CWU members.
What is the BT passport?
The BT Passport is a scheme to document the requirements of employees
who have special needs that can sometimes impact on their working life.
Who can have a BT Passport?
Currently within BT there are the following Passports available;
• BT Disability Passport – available to employees with health
conditions that the employee believes are covered by the DDA (Disability
• BT Health & Well being Passport – available to employees
with mental health conditions.
• BT Carers Passport – available to employees who have specific
caring responsibilities for someone else.
What are the benefits of having
a BT Passport?
It is a voluntary scheme that allows employees to ensure that any special
needs that can impact on them in the workplace, either now or in the future,
are documented. It ensures that any reasonable adjustments that are required
are documented, so that if the line manager or job role changes in the
future, the information is readily available. It therefore guarantees
continuity of any arrangements that are required for the employee in the
It allows the employee to explain in their own words their circumstances,
the difficulties they experience in the workplace and discuss the help
they require in the workplace. Hence, management are made aware and can
implement the correct BT support/process, in line with the manager’s
duty of care.
Who has access to the information
in the Passport?
The contents of the BT Passport are strictly confidential and treated
accordingly. The line manager holds a copy, which is kept in the employee’s
personal file. The employee is provided with a copy, which ensures they
have a copy of any reasonable adjustments/support that is agreed. Nobody
else has access to the contents. In fact, nobody else within BT is aware
who has a BT Passport.
Who controls the information placed
into the Passport?
The employee. The employee controls the amount of information they wish
to divulge, to enable the line manager to have an understanding of your
needs. This will enable the manager to implement assistance/ support through
the relevant BT policy. The contents of the Passport cannot be changed
without the agreement of the employee.
Do I have to do this on my own
with my line manager?
No, each passport clearly states that an employee can nominate someone
to support them in this process. This includes a trade union representative.
Each passport contains contact information for support. If you would like
a trade union representative to support you, please contact the branch.
If my health condition is currently
OK will the BT Passport help me?
The BT Passport ensures that the line manager is aware of the condition
and how it may impact you in the future. This ensures that you would receive
the appropriate reasonable adjustments should your health condition affect
you in the future without causing unnecessary delays in providing you
with the support you require. The BT Passport is designed to be “proactive”
not “reactive”, this reduces unnecessary stress for employees.
It is also a “living” document which can be reviewed and amended
whenever your health requirements change.
In my current job role I have
no problems that cause me difficulties, why would I need a BT Passport?
None of us knows what the future holds? The BT Passport ensures that should
your job role change in the future, your circumstances are already documented
and would therefore need to be taken into consideration. It would also
allow you to highlight any problems that you encounter in the new role
to BT management, who then have a duty to make reasonable adjustments/implement
the relevant BT policy to support you.
Where can I obtain further information about the BT Passport?
On the “Including you” website on the BT Intranet or you can
email the East Midlands CWU branch for more information via firstname.lastname@example.org
CWU Disability & Special Needs Advisory Committee
CWU East Midlands Branch
information on the Disability and Special Needs Advisory Committee (DSNAC)
and the latest CWU Disability information and guides please see CWU National
Website>Advisory Committees>Disability & Special Needs.
Members with comments or questions
regarding DSNAC matters please send an email entitled “Disability
Report” to the East Midlands Branch email address 'email@example.com'.
ACCESS TO WORK
- ARE YOU ENTITLED TO ACCESS TO WORK ASSISTANCE?
WHAT IS ACCESS TO WORK?
The Access to Work (ATW) scheme is ostensibly designed to provide help
and support to disabled workers to enable them to overcome barriers that
they may experience getting work, travelling to work and in the workplace.
If you qualify for ATW the government will pay for, or make a contribution
in the form of a grant towards, the support you need because of a disability.
WHO QUALIFIES FOR ACCESS TO WORK?
If you are a disabled person as defined by the DDA and your health or
disability affects the way you do your job and you are:
– unemployed and starting a new job
– self employed
– working for an employer.
WHAT SUPPORT IS AVAILABLE?
If you satisfy the qualifying criteria ATW will contribute all or a proportion
of the costs of:
• adaptations to premises and equipment
• special aids to employment
• support workers
• travel to work costs
• communication support at Job interviews.
HOW DO YOU GET ATW ASSISTANCE?
In the first instance discuss the matter with your employer. Your CWU
rep can help you with this. Then contact the Disablement Employment Adviser
who are part of the governments Placement Assessment and Counselling teams
based in the local job centre. You will then have to complete an
application form stating details of your employment and what type of support
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
From all accounts the Access to Work process is a relatively short one.
When your application has been approved the Disablement Employment Adviser
will contact you and the employer and may visit your workplace to appraise
your needs. When a solution has been identified, costed, and agreed the
applicant and the employer will receive an action plan from the DEA. It
is the employer’s
responsibility – or yours if you are self employed – to arrange
the agreed support and/or purchase the required aids or adaptations. The
can then be reclaimed from ATW.
WANT TO FIND OUT MORE?
Here is an overview of what appears to be a positive government policy
to encourage and support disabled workers. The CWU welcomes and supports
this initiative. If you want to learn more specific details you can contact
the agency responsible for the scheme’s administration at:
Access to Work Operational Support Unit 1st Floor Alexandra House, 377
Cowbridge Road East, Canton, Cardiff, CF5 1WU, Tel: 02920 423291.
You can also contact the CWU Equal Opportunities
Department if you have any questions or queries on this or any other matter.
Linda Roy National Equality Officer Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: O2O 8971