GMLC offers specialist welfare rights advice and representation for those who are most disadvantaged in society. Not only has the Government removed Legal Aid for those who seek help with the overly complicated benefit system, they have introduced a host of welfare reforms to slash billions from the welfare budget.

Our specialist advisors help people from the very start by assisting them to complete ESA, Universal Credit and PIP claim forms. These forms are not simple, but the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), and later the Tribunals Service, use these to assess entitlement to benefits, and claims can be severely compromised if vital information is missed at the very start.

Our work focuses on the needs of clients who are unable to access this support anywhere else. Face-to-face advice is particularly important for vulnerable clients. All our specialist volunteer advisors have extensive knowledge of welfare benefits appeals and have successfully challenged DWP decisions both at review and appeal stage.

The stories below illustrate the kind of work GMLC does, and the impact it helps to create for the people who seek our help, their families, and their wider communities.

“ I cannot praise highly enough the support and professionalism shown to myself during the process of Mandatory Reconsideration for PIP. The Greater Manchester Law Centre and my volunteer advisor Shaheen Mansoor kept me informed every step of the way.”

“I will never forget what the Law Centre has done for me.”

“I came to see you quite distressed and confused and now things seem much clearer. Both you and [GMLC volunteer] Nick have been fantastic.”

Case studies

Our advice worker Anne Faulkner helped a client to win an Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) appeal, from fit to work to support group, and got a wonderful thank you. The client was originally awarded zero points, meaning their ESA allowance was denied. With Anne’s professional and effective representation, they were awarded 24 points in the appeal, meaning their ESA was granted.

One client was very unwell and claimed Income Support as a single person, even though she had been married since 2002. This is because the client’s husband was not a British national and had no recourse to public funds.

One day, the benefit agency demanded £20,000 from the client in repayments. They stated that our client had unlawfully claimed benefits for her husband, even though she had declared that he was fighting his immigration status and not entitled to public funds.

After many years of fighting, the couple resolved his immigration status through the courts. However, they were still being asked to repay £20,000 in benefits, and they couldn’t afford a lawyer to argue their case. The Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU) referred them to us for support.

We assisted them and were successful in appealing against an overpayment of Income Support amounting to £16,381.29, and an overpayment of ESA of £3,834.25.

Free of the repayments and with established immigration status, the couple were free to begin again in getting the Income Support they needed. 

A young man with learning disabilities, who was born overseas but lives in the UK with his British father, was refused Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for not being able to show he had a ‘right to reside’. The young man’s support worker had been trying to work with the Department of Work and Pensions to resolve the matter for nearly a year when they contacted Greater Manchester Law Centre.

Our volunteer advisors worked with them to collect the paperwork needed to demonstrate the young man’s right to reside. The Department of Work and Pensions accepted this evidence and awarded the young man almost £10,000 in back payments for the ESA he was entitled to.

A client was found to be fit for work following a medical assessment despite producing evidence to support his mental health. Our case work accompanied the client to a hearing and the client won his appeal and the Judge placed him in the support group (which is the group for people with serious health conditions).

Our case worker also identified that he may be entitled to other benefits. She helped him to complete a PIP claim form and asked a volunteer to attend a medical assessment with him. He was also awarded the enhanced rate of the daily living component and the standard rate of the mobility component.

In another case, our advisor helped a couple to appeal against an ESA failed medical assessment appeal; PIP appeal as well as identifying other benefit entitlements for the family. She helped the client to be placed in the support group on appeal, her husband had a back date of Income Support and currently waiting for the PIP decision.