12 new community law workshops start.

This week we launched our workshops in partership with BPP Law School. As part of their StreetLaw project BPP Law School students have agreed to offer our community 12 community law workshops.
The topics were picked by the Social Justice Network members and the topics range from Knife Crime
to employment rights. You can see a full list here.

Over 20 people attended the first online session that explored main employment rights, discrimination and protected characteristics, the ‘gig’ economy, and agency workers’ rights. Some people during the session needed face to face advice from an employment specialist. We know that community law workshops are amazing and in some cases they must run along side specialist legal advice. If you need employment
advice you can request it here: Work — South West London Law Centres – Helping local people access justice (swllc.org)

This week myself and our CEO (Patrick Marples) met online with the Deputy Leader of Croydon Council who is also cabinet member for Croydon Renewal Cllr Stewart King, you can read about his cabinet position here.

We met with Cllr King is to discuss concerns that the law centre has over the new Council Tax Support proposals that seek to increase the amount of council tax that housing holds pay – including those who are registered disabled and single parent families on Income Support with children under 5.

We invited one of our partners along – Marc Francis from Z2K as they have become a leading commentator on Council Tax Support. Z2K was set up in the 1990s by Reverend Paul Nicolson and a group of supporters as they were concerned about the impact of Margaret Thatcher’s Government proposals of ‘poll tax’.

At the law centre we know that proposals that seek to reduce support for residents don’t save money that
create debt and pressure on other services such as health and housing services. You can read our response to the consultation submitted in December 2021 here.

All cabinet members received a copy of our response and the Z2K consultation response via email before passing the changes at the cabinet meeting later that evening. You watch Croydon cabinet discussing this here. The next stage is for Croydon Council to take it to Council Assembly on the 31st of January.
South West London Law Centres has been asked to explore legal action by a local resident so this our next step.

The week closed with a request from a BBC Panorama journalist shared with our Social Justice Network received from the Law Centre Network which requested to speak to people about the rising cost of living with a focus on the fuel crisis. An announcement is expected over the next few weeks about the lifting of the energy cap and how this affect fuel prices in the UK. 19 members of the network wanted to speak to Panorama. The main issue people wanted to highlight is the crisis they are already experiencing that is exasperated by rising bills and that living conditions are causing rising bills. People with damp in their homes are told to use plug in extractor fans and to keep heating on and windows open. People with broken central or communal heating are told to use expensive plug in heaters. People in unsuitable housing are being forced to do things such as use plug in heaters or extractor fans that make already unaffordable bills increase. *Jenna (not her real name) told me that she has been in her temporary accommodation for over 7 years and she can not make any improvements to it to make it more energy efficient. Peoples windows and doors don’t close properly so heat escapes and cold comes in. This narrative isn’t being covered on the news.