Common problems with Financial Verification in criminal legal aid and advice and assistance/ABWOR cases


Tuesday, Aug 06, 2013

We find that the following issues commonly arise in criminal legal aid and advice and assistance/ABWOR cases as part of the financial assessment or approvals processes. Please take care when submitting your application to avoid these situations, as the more accurate the application can be the less likely we are to need to continue the case for clarification or more information, resulting in further work for both you and us. Your co-operation with these matters would be greatly appreciated.

  1. Do not enter a passport benefit in the ‘Other benefits’ box. If you do this, the case cannot automatically be checked through the DWP link. You should record the passport benefits (Income support, income based job seeker’s allowance, and income based employment support allowance) in the Passport Benefit section of the application. We can then check these benefits automatically through the DWP link.
  2. When entering another benefit such as DLA, do not state in the verification section: “SLAB to verify”. Non passported benefits like DLA or PIP or tax credits cannot be verified by us through the DWP link. You have to obtain alternative verification.
  3. If the applicant has no income you must provide an explanation about how they are supported. If they are supported by family or friends please advise us of this.
  4. Stating “in custody” but not making it clear whether they appeared from custody or whether they appeared from remand or are serving a sentence. Please make it clear which applies. Clients can appear from custody and be released quickly without affecting their employment or benefits status. In these situations verification, where needed, should still be obtained.
  5. In criminal A&A and ABWOR cases, it is not uncommon for “nil capital” to be declared and then a statement along the lines of “cannot prove a nil”. We have provided the capital mandate which is included in the application for this purpose. The ‘capital mandate’ option should be ticked. If a client has no capital, this can be confirmed to us by advising us that the client has signed the capital mandate on the online mandate form. Applicants always have to sign this form before the application can be submitted to us, otherwise there is not a valid application. By indicating that the capital mandate has been signed, you are confirming that the client has seen the questions about capital and savings.
  6. In solemn and summary applications, when submitting bank statements, these should be clearly marked to indicate all the relevant income and household outgoing payments which we can take into account. Where this is not clear to us, the case has to be continued further by us. Please ask your client to make sure that all relevant entries on the statement are clearly marked.
  7. Many applications still answer “No” in response to whether the applicant has a bank account, but a wage slip confirms that the applicant is paid by BACS, or a letter from the DWP confirms that the applicant’s benefits are paid by Direct Debit. Post Office accounts should be included as bank accounts here. The bank account question must be answered correctly as the client is signing a declaration on the mandate form to confirm that all the information provided in the online application is accurate and correct.

Further information

If you would like further information please contact: Kingsley Thomas, Head of Criminal Legal Assistance, 0131 240 2085, thomaski@slab.org.uk
 


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