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Tri-City Project Hague Round-table 14 May 2012 FLAC – the Free Legal Advice Centres.

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Presentation on theme: "Tri-City Project Hague Round-table 14 May 2012 FLAC – the Free Legal Advice Centres."— Presentation transcript:

1 Tri-City Project Hague Round-table 14 May 2012 FLAC – the Free Legal Advice Centres

2 19 January 2012FLAC2 What is FLAC? A independent human rights organisation Dedicated to the realisation of equal access to justice for all using the law as a way to achieve change Established in 1969 by law students to campaign for the introduction of a comprehensive civil legal aid scheme Campaigns on a range of legal issues but also offers some basic, free legal services to the public.basic, free legal services

3 Ways in which FLAC works Lo-call information line in Dublin office Receives more than 10,000 queries from general public or other bodies including CICs, NGOs, advocates Advice Centres First stop legal advice given by approx. 600 qualified lawyers who volunteer in 92 centres in 81 locations nationwide. Provides legal information Web resources Information sheets or ‘FLACsheets’ 19 January 2012FLAC3

4 19 January 2012FLAC4 FLAC’s Priority Areas of Work Civil legal aid Access to the State-run scheme Debt and Credit Law Reform Mortgage arrears Personal Insolvency Consumer Protection Public Interest Law Recognition of Transgendered persons Deaf jurors Social Welfare Law Reform

5 19 January 2012FLAC5 Social Welfare Law Reform (1) Reports Analysis of Direct Provision system for asylum seekers published in 2010 Currently working on report on the social welfare appeals process Policy submissions Social Welfare legislation Pre-Budget submissions Briefings for domestic and international human rights mechanisms

6 Social Welfare Law Reform (2) Information guides Habitual Residence Condition Social welfare appeals Process Immigrants’ entitlements to social security Strategic casework Application of Habitual Residence Condition to asylum seekers Spouse of EU worker suffering domestic violence Second tier advice Citizens Information Centres NGOs working on social security issues 19 January 2012FLAC6

7 19 January 2012FLAC7

8 Other Social Welfare Queries There were 282 social welfare queries and 220 immigration queries to information line in 2011 There were 131 queries in 2011 which required second-tier advice given to: 29 individuals including former clients 19 different NGOs in 63 instances 8 Citizens Information Centres in 27 instances 12 other organisations such as UNHCR, the Office of the Ombudsman, solicitors and consultants. 19 January 2012FLAC8

9 Irish Special Non-Contributory Benefits Listed in Annex X Annex X of EC Regulation 883/04 lists the following payments as SNCBs in Irish social welfare system: Jobseekers Allowance State pension (non-contributory) Widow's and Widower's (non-contributory) pensions Disability Allowance Mobility Allowance Blind Pension 1 March 2012FLAC9

10 Habitual Residence Condition Applied to all special non-contributory benefits Introduced in May 2004 in light of EU enlargement Case C-90/97 Swaddling v. Adjudication Officer (a) length and continuity of residence in the State or in any other particular country; (b) length and purpose of any absence from the State; (c) nature and pattern of the person’s employment; (d) person’s main centre of interest; and (e) future intentions of the person concerned as they appear from all the circumstances 19 January 2012FLAC10

11 Right to Reside Test Introduced in December 2009 Persons listed in legislation as having a right to reside include: Irish citizens British nationals EU workers or EU nationals who meet certain criteria Convention or Programme refugees, their families and dependents Persons granted leave to remain or subsidiary protection Anecdotally it seems to be used more than before 19 January 2012FLAC11

12 Possible introduction of Single Working-Age Payment Discussed at Joint Oireachtas (Parliamentary) Committee in January 2012 Working Group to report to Troika at end of March 2012 Proposed payment would replace: Jobseekers Allowance Disability Allowance One Parent Family Payment Farm Assist Blind Pension Widow(er)’s Non-Contributory Pension Carer’s Allowance 1 March 2012FLAC12

13 Current Issues Arising for EU Migrants living in Ireland Failure to accept applications for payments Misapplication or misunderstanding of the HRC Access of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants due to work permit restrictions Misunderstanding by officials of applicable EU legislation and case-law High volume of social welfare appeals and success rate Return of destitute EU12 nationals 416 in 2011 (548 in 2010) 19 January 2012FLAC13

14 SNCBs – Applications and Appeals Awaiting Decision Figures taken from response by Minister for Social Protection to a PQ on 23 November March 2012FLAC14 Payment Appeals awaiting decision at 31/10/2011 Applications received to 31/10/11 Appeals Outstanding as percentage of applications Jobseekers Allowance 3,945204,1662% State Pension (N-C) 1975,9063% Widow(er)’s Pension (N-C) % Disability Allowance 3,23820,45716% Blind Pension %

15 Solovastru Case Judicial review regarding right to reside and access to Jobseekers Allowance Romanian national Self-employed Decided on right to reside test which was applied retrospectively in this case Judge held that he was not available for work to qualify for JA Reference to CJEU 19 January 2012FLAC15

16 More Information See our website Sign up for the Public Interest Law Alliance bulletin at January 2012FLAC16


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