Developing a strategy for access to advice and support on Social Welfare Law in England and Wales
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Party Conference Feedback

Conference Report

The Low Commission have been busy out and about in the last three weeks of Party Conferences in Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow. To see our programme click here:-

However in addition to this programme, we have been busy at the Conferences meetings senior Parliamentarians, Councillors and Activists, visiting the Campaigners exhibitions, as well contributing to numerous other fringe meetings at the Conferences organised, for example those organised by StepChange and the Money Advice Service on debt issues, discussions on welfare organised by CPAG, the Centre for Social Justice and others, the large meetings organised by the Care and Support Alliance, discussions on local government commissioning supported by the LGA, fringe meetings on the crisis in rented housing, bespoke fringe meetings organised by disability charities, meeting supported by the Unions and others on workplace rights, debates hosted by each Party’s legal associations, the Law Society’s events, and finally Citizens Advice’s receptions to celebrate their 75th birthday.

The exhibition: Talking to Care and Support Alliance

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So first to Manchester; the Society of Labour Lawyers published a book including a chapter from (former LAG Director) Roger Smith calling for a new strategy and mission statement for the civil legal aid system which we discussed with Sadiq Khan MP and Emily Thornberry MP at a packed meeting. Our fringe meeting the following day had Lord Low, Yvonne Fovargue MP, Steve Hynes and Andy Slaughter MP, and whilst it became clear that Labour’s frontbench spokesmen were not going make any binding commitments on extra funding for advice services (or proposals involving reversal of existing legal aid cuts), but they supported the Low Commission's proposals on developing an advice strategy and exploring quick win options like extending the life of the Advice Services Transition fund. There also a packed evening meeting for the wider advice sector organised by the Justice Alliance which saw frontbenchers being put under more pressure to address the issues.

At Labour Conference

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At the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham our panellists included Justice Minister Lord Faulks, Solicitor General Robert Buckland MP, and Conservative lawyer Phillip Taylor were extremely warm towards Low Commission's agenda, especially our proposals on legal literacy and early intervention methods. Key members of the Conservatives LGA group were also interested in our proposals. Our partners at the Conference, Public Relations Group Weber Shandwick were also helpful in facilitating introductions – the Low Commission’s proposals are now being discussed at the highest level.

At Conservative Party Conference

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Finally to Lib Dems’ Glasgow conference started with a welfare reform motion which was amended to commit to also implementing the Low Commission's recommendations. See here for the amendment:-

Family, Justice Minister Simon Hughes MP who was a key Speaker at our fringe meeting on the same day said that as a matter of process, the amendment made the Low Commission’s recommendations part of Party Policy, so following this he would now undertake to work to take this up in the Party's manifesto context.

At Liberal Democrat Conference

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