Support for disabled children whose benefit payment has been reduced

by David Abbott

Support for disabled children whose benefit payment has been reduced

by David Abbott
David Abbott
Case Owner
I'm David Abbott from the FRU. We represent people for free in benefit and employment tribunal hearings. I'm crowdfunding so we can keep helping our most vulnerable clients to obtain their rights.
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David Abbott
Case Owner
I'm David Abbott from the FRU. We represent people for free in benefit and employment tribunal hearings. I'm crowdfunding so we can keep helping our most vulnerable clients to obtain their rights.
Pledge now

Your card will only be charged if the case meets its target of £3,000 by Jan. 01, 2020, 10 a.m.

Funding sought to support disabled children through Disability Living Allowance appeals.

What we need

We train and support volunteers to represent people for free in tribunal hearings. Our legal officers supervise the cases. Each legal officer can support over a hundred volunteers, but we need to find the money to keep paying for this expert legal support.

Who we help 

Any legal case is a daunting prospect for anyone, but particularly for our clients who are parents of disabled children. We are frequently asked to represent parents of children with Asperger’s Syndrome, ADHD and other behavioural issues. We also represent children with other health issues such as Colitis, which can make them very tired. These children need constant care and supervision, which is what Disability Living Allowance is designed to fund. All too often the parents believe the child’s benefit award is reduced or cancelled without enough evidence that anything has changed. Research has shown that the benefit freeze has had a particularly large impact for households with at least one disabled child. On average, households without disabled adults and at least one disabled child will lose just under £900 each year.

For our clients, the lack of Legal Aid means that they can't afford to be represented. Supporting these claimants as they care for their child and try to make ends meet makes a huge difference to their experience of going to the independent tribunal and their chances of success. This means they get money to cover the costs of their child’s disability.

Research with people with legal problems recently found that "The process of trying to pursue justice without legal aid added extra physical and mental strain, which may exacerbate existing physical and mental health issues or cause new ones. This was particularly noticeable for disabled participants, who found the stress of trying to resolve a welfare issue with inadequate advice made their health condition worse".

The benefit of legal advice is clear: people who are represented are successful in 65% of cases whereas those who are unrepresented are successful in only 45% of cases. We help our clients to get their voices heard so that decision makers truly understand their situation.

If a tribunal agrees with the client's benefit appeal, they could receive between £23 and £149 per week in social security payments. For parents of disabled children on a low income this could mean the difference between not leaving the house and having a life or not having to choose between heating the house and eating properly.

What our clients say

"I am writing… in regards to the incredible representation that we had from FRU. Our representative was absolutely outstanding… and worked tenaciously throughout the case … in every way possible… went over and above the call of duty… and restored [the client’s] faith in herself. She showed passion, dedication, and absolute professionalism in her work and we are all very grateful… feel very lucky to have had such wonderful representation that we couldn’t let it go unnoticed. I thank you again for being the light in dark times … for us all."

How you can help

‘We represent on average two clients in a tribunal hearing every working day of the year. Over a year one legal casework supervisor can support hundreds of volunteers. 

£3000 will enable us to pay a legal supervisor for a whole month to support our volunteers to do a great job – for our clients who are parents of disabled children, and other clients who need our help. Raising more would keep our service going for longer for everyone.’

Who we are

The Free Representation Unit (“FRU”) is a charity that was set up in 1972. We specialise in social security and employment law and provide free legal representation to clients who can’t afford lawyers.

We help some of the most vulnerable in society enforce their legal rights whilst offering practical experience to future lawyers. Our representatives are volunteers and we represent around 500 clients each year.

As a charity, we rely on charitable grants and donations to fund a team of staff who run the office and supervise cases. Sustaining this work is an ever-present challenge and we need your help to continue to help as many people as possible.


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