LAG steps up social security campaign

THE Legal Action Group (LAG) has stepped up its campaign to stop the Government changing the format of social security tribunals, by issuing a briefing letter to 60 House of Lords peers.

The Lords will discuss the Social Security Bill on 30 March.

The LAG and other groups, including the Law Society and the Council on Tribunals, are opposed to the Bill's proposal to replace the existing three-person tribunals chaired by a legally-qualified person with non legally-qualified tribunals of between one and three members from a panel.

The LAG briefing labels the change “significant” and “retrograde” and claims the lack of qualified tribunal members will result in mistakes being made, causing delay and expense.

Head of policy at the LAG, Vicki Chapman, said: “Appellants in social security cases are frequently unrepresented and often hopelessly at sea when a legal problem arises. Many have poor literacy skills, ill health or mental health problems.”

Chapman added that three-person tribunals guarded against prejudice.