Department for Communities: Law and legislation

The Department for Communities (DfC) is part of the Northern Ireland Executive. The “law and legislation” section of the DfC’s site includes case law of the Social Security Commissioners and Child Support Commissioners for Northern Ireland 1960 onwards, via the NIDOC case law digest maintained by the DfC’s Decision Making Services. Electronic versions of Northern Ireland’s “Blue Volumes” and “Orange Volume”, containing collections of current social security and child support legislation, are also available.

Department for Work & Pensions

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is responsible for welfare, pensions and child maintenance policy. Content on the site includes press releases, recent consultation documents and many other publications. Collections of legislation on social security (commonly known as the ‘Blue Volumes’, updated to¬†October 2015) and child support (the ‘Orange Volumes’, updated to October 2015) are available at lawvolumes.dwp.gov.uk.

European Commission: Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

This is the web site of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, which is concerned with employment and social policy within the EU, including anti-discrimination measures. The “Publications and documents” section includes links to legislation, and a database of reports, consultation documents, and other documents 1990 onwards, and “News and multimedia” includes a news archive 2004 onwards.

Independent Case Examiner

The Independent Case Examiner was established in 1997 and investigates complaints about certain government organisations that deal with benefits and financial support, including the Child Support Agency, the Northern Ireland Social Security Agency, Jobcentre Plus, the Disability and Carers Service, the Financial Assistance Scheme, Debt Management, and Child Maintenance and Enforcement Division (Northern Ireland). This section of the GOV.UK web site provides information on the Independent Case Examiner’s responsibilities, activities and publications. Archived annual reports are available back to 2000/2001.

Independent Review Service for the Social Fund

The Independent Review Service (IRS) for the Social Fund was abolished in April 2013 and its web site archived by the National Archives. It carried out independent reviews of discretionary Social Fund decisions made in Jobcentre Plus offices in England, Scotland and Wales. The “Publications and Leaflets” section includes the IRS Journal and a digest of inspectors’ decisions (both from winter 1999 onwards), annual reports, and the Social Fund Commissioner’s advice to inspectors. In the section “Your Rights and the Law” there are links to relevant Acts on the Legislation.gov.uk web site.

Rightsnet

Rightsnet is maintained by the charity Lasa (Lasa Charity UK Limited). It provides information, advice and news on social welfare law in the UK, principally through its news and caselaw subscription service. The freely accessible Resources section however contains links to key online sources for legislation, official guidance, manuals, case law, forms and calculators. Of particular note amongst the case law links is a “Commissioners decisions archive” of almost 5000 decisions in pdf format, from the late 1940s onwards, which are mostly unavailable elsewhere online. They include decisions formerly available from Commissioner Howell’s web site, the Office of the Social Security Commissioners’ archive, and the Child Poverty Action Group.

Social Security Advisory Committee

The SSAC is the main UK advisory body on social security matters. This section of the GOV.UK web site includes recent Annual Reports, current consultation documents, research and occasional papers and recent press releases. Older Annual Reports are now on the National Archives web site.

Social Security and Child Support Tribunal

The First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support) deals with appeals from decisions of the Department for Work and Pensions and the Child Support Agency, as well as other government departments and local authorities, concerning social security, child support, income support, housing and other benefits. It was formerly known as the Social Security and Child Support Appeal Tribunal, and earlier still as the Appeals Service. Since 3 November 2008 it has formed part of the First-tier Tribunal’s Social Entitlement Chamber. This section of the GOV.UK web site has information on the appeal procedure, with links to forms and procedural rules.

Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber)

The Upper Tribunal is a superior court of record with UK-wide jurisdiction. Its Administrative Appeals Chamber deals with appeals from the General Regulatory Chamber, the Health, Education and Social Care Chamber, the Social Entitlement Chamber and the War Pensions and Armed Forces Compensation Chamber of the First-tier Tribunal. It also deals with first appeals from decisions of the Independent Safeguarding Authority and of the Traffic Commissioners, and with appeals from some decisions of tribunals in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Upon its establishment on 3 November 2008 it took over the work of the former Social Security, Child Support and Pensions Appeal Commissioners. This page of the GOV.UK web site has information, guidance and downloadable forms. Decisions 2016 onwards are on the site. Earlier decisions (1991 onwards for England & Wales and Scotland, with some earlier decisions; 1973 onwards, with a very small number of earlier ones, for Northern Ireland) are accessible via a link to the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary site.