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Getting Advice

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Disability Rights UK Factsheet F15

This factsheet gives brief information on ways you can get advice on benefits, social care and health related issues.  

Face to face advice and case work

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice give advice on legal, money and other problems.

The service is free, independent and confidential.

To find a CAB in your area go to http://ow.ly/QO7Z1.

To find a CAB in Scotland go to www.cas.org.uk/bureaux

CAB are also developing a national phone service. The service is now fully operational in Wales and being rolled out in England. If it is not yet available in your area, you will hear options for recorded information:

  • for England call 03444 111 444 or check your local Citizens Advice contact details via the search box below
  • for Wales call 03444 77 20 20
  • TextRelay users should call 03444 111 445

Law Centres

Law Centres are staffed by solicitors and barristers who can provide free legal advice and representation on civil law cases including: .

  • employment
  • housing
  • discrimination
  • welfare benefits
  • education
  • immigration

To find your nearest Law Centre in England, Wales and Northern Ireland:
Website: www.lawcentres.org.uk

To find your nearest Law Centre in Scotland:
Website: www.govanlc.com/salc

Legal aided funded cases

For advice on legal aid funding see Civil Legal Advice (CLA) below.

Phone helplines

Age UK

Age UK has provides advice and information to older people via its adviceline:
Telephone: 0800 169 2081
Website: www.ageuk.org.uk

Carers UK

Carers UK provides advice and information to carers via its adviceline:

Telephone: 0808 808 7777
Website: www.carersuk.org

Civil Legal Advice (CLA)

Get free and confidential legal advice in England and Wales if you’re eligible for legal aid.

You can get help with legal aid for:

  • debt, if your home is at risk
  • housing
  • domestic abuse
  • family, if you’ve been in an abusive relationship
  • special educational needs
  • discrimination
  • issues around a child being taken into care

You can also contact CLA if you’re unhappy about the service you’ve received from them.

The service offers free call backs, free translation if English isn’t your first language. You can also book a British Sign Language interpreter if you need one. You can also check if you are eligible for legal aid.

Telephone: 0345 345 4 345
Minicom: 0345 609 6677
Website: www.gov.uk/civil-legal-advice

Disability Information Scotland

Provides disability-related information to people living in Scotland.

Helpline:  0300 323 9961
SMS: 0778 620 0707
Email: info@disabilityscot.org.uk
Website: www.disabilityscot.org.uk

Disability Law Service

Disability Law Service provides specialist legal advice for disabled people, their families and carers on the following subjects:

  • Community Care
  • Disability Discrimination

Telephone: 020 7791 9800

Website: http://dls.org.uk/

Disability Rights UK

We have three advice lines:

1. Disabled Students Helpline

This line provides advice to: Disabled students who are studying in England. We also provide advice on post-16 education and training enquiries from disabled students or professionals working with disabled students.

Telephone: 0800 328 5050

Email: students@disabilityrightsuk.org

We can provide general information to students who are studying in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

Disabled students who wish to study in Scotland should contact Lead Scotland (telephone 0131 228 9441).

2. Personal Budgets Helpline

The Advice Line provides advice on getting direct payments, including information on:

  • individual budgets/personalisation
  • funding from social services in relation to the care needs of the disabled  (that also involves issues around appealing against the decision of social services)
  • general advice on employing personal assistants

This line does NOT give help with or information about claiming benefits.

Telephone:  0300 555 1525

Email: independentliving@disabilityrightsuk.org

3. Equality Advisory Support Service

The Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) is aimed at individuals who need more expert advice and support on discrimination law and human rights issues than advice agencies and other local organisations can provide.

Phone: 0808 800 0082
Textphone: 0808 800 0084
Website: www.equalityadvisoryservice.com/

There is a webcam portal for BSL users via the Royal Association for Deaf people.

Post: Freepost EASS Helpline FPN6521

Equality and Human Rights Commission

EHRC offer a telephone-based support service on human rights issues for advisers, solicitors and other organisations.

England: 0161 829 8190

Scotland: 0141 228 5990

Wales: 029 2044 7790

The service is available within core office hours.

Irwin Mitchell

Irwin Mitchell have experience of all types of legal cases and has taken cases all the way to the Supreme Court, European Court of Justice and the European Court of Human Rights when necessary.

Website: www.irwinmitchell.com/

National Debtline

This is a free, confidential helpline offering independent advice on how to deal with debt problems.

Telephone: 0808 808 4000

Website: www.nationaldebtline.org

Offenders’ Families Helpline

The National Offenders’ Families Helpline provides help for families on all aspects of the criminal justice system in England and Wales from arrest through to release..

They also provide advice and information on their website.

Telephone: 0808 808 2003

Email:  info@offendersfamilieshelpline.org

Website: www.offendersfamilieshelpline.org

Patients Association

The Patients Association helpline is a national helpline providing specialist information, advice and signposting about health and social care. They are not medically trained and cannot give medical or legal advice. The line covers:

  • access to treatments
  • concern about treatments
  • how to make a complaint about any health or social care service
  • social care
  • patient’s rights and responsibilities
  • changing (or finding) your GP or dentist
  • seeing your medical records

The helpline will often signpost callers to other organisations when appropriate.

A call back service is provided for those who call out of hours.

Telephone: 020 8423 8999

Email: helpline@patients-association.com

Website: www.patients-association.org.uk

Scope

The Scope helpline provides free, independent and impartial information and support on issues that matter to disabled people and their families. Call 0808 800 3333 or go online at www.scope.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/helpline

Scope can also signpost you to advice line services available throughout Great Britain. For more information go to www.scope.org.uk/support/disabled-people/local/about

Shelter

A national telephone advice line staffed by trained housing advisers.
Telephone: 0808 800 4444

Websites: http://england.shelter.org.uk and http://scotland.shelter.org.uk

Fry Law

If you are being treated less favourably because of your disability in work (or in seeking work), Fry Law may be able to help.

Website: www.frylaw.co.uk/

On the web

Advicelocal

This is an online database which covers:

  • benefits
  • tax credits
  • council tax
  • debt and money advice
  • housing and homelessness
  • employment and work issues
  • disability and social care
  • asylum and immigration.

You just need to put your post code in and the issue you want advice on and you will be shown more information as well as details of advice centres in your area.

Website: https://advicelocal.uk/

Benefits adviser

DWP used to provide an online calculator – the Benefits Adviser. This is now offline and visitors to the GOV.UK site will be signposted towards independent, online benefit calculators offered by other organisations. Links to calculators will be placed on GOV.UK. For more information go to www.gov.uk/benefits-calculators

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice provides online information on your rights, including benefits, housing, family matters and employment, and on debt, consumer and legal issues.

Website: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/

Legal Aid Agency - Community Legal Advice

This is an online database which enables you to search for legal advisers or solicitors near you.

Website: http://find-legal-advice.justice.gov.uk/

Advice referral

Bar Pro Bono Unit

The Bar Pro Bono Unit can put people who need legal advice and representation in touch with barristers who are willing to work for no fee or ‘pro bono’ (‘for the good’). The Unit takes applications through advice agencies and solicitors and aims to help in cases where someone cannot afford to pay, cannot get legal aid and has a ‘meritorious’ case (in other words, a good case).

Website: www.barprobono.org.uk

Free Representation Unit

The Free Representation Unit (FRU) is a registered charity. It can provide legal advice, case preparation and advocacy in tribunal cases in all areas of social security law. Cases must be referred to the FRU through a referral agency. Some of these are listed on the FRU website and they include Citizens Advice Bureaus and Law Centres and some solicitors. The FRU cannot accept referrals direct from members of the public and it does not accept cases until a tribunal hearing date has been arranged.

Website: www.thefru.org.uk

LawWorks

LawWorks is a charity working in England and Wales to connect volunteer lawyers with people in need of legal advice, who are not eligible for legal aid and cannot afford to pay.

Website: www.lawworks.org.uk/

Written advice

If you need detailed information in writing see our Disability Rights Handbook. This and all our other publications are available from our shop at https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/shop. You can also place orders by contacting Disability Rights UK.

We also have over fifty factsheets which give information on benefits, tax credits, independent living, appeals, education and other help you can get. All our factsheets are free to download on our website at disabilityrightsuk.org.

Immigration

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice provide advice on immigration, including:

  • Problems with visa applications and documents
  • Visas for family and friends
  • Staying in the UK
  • Asylum and refugees
  • Trafficking
  • Deportation and living in the UK illegally

If the issue is too complicated for them to advise they can refer you to someone who may be able to help.

Website: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/

More information: www.citizensadvice.org.uk/immigration/

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants 

The Joint Council for the welfare of immigrants (JCWI) can offer the following:

Legal Advice: JCWI can arrange a fixed-fee appointment with a solicitor.

Helplines: JCWI has three helplines

  • One for undocumented migrants (020 7553 7470)
  • One for foreign national prisoners (020 7553 7468/Fax: 020 7251 8707)
  • A Unison helpline, specifically for members of UNISON. You will need to contact UNISON first.

Website: www.jcwi.org.uk/about/legal-advice

6 December 2017