Tower Hamlets Watch

No More Legal Aid for the Poor

April 29, 2013

I cannot believe our government have passed this legislation, but here are the changes in full it seems from the Citizens Advice Bureau

Changes to legal aid

Date: 27 March 2013

Civil legal aid helps to pay for the costs of getting legal advice if you’re on a low income. However, the government has made large cuts to the civil legal aid budget. This means from 1 April you’ll no longer be able to get civil legal aid for many types of problems that might affect your everyday life. These include:

Welfare benefit appeals

You’ll no longer be able to get legal aid to help you make an appeal against a decision on welfare benefits unless you’re making an appeal to the Upper Tribunal or higher courts.


You’ll no longer be able to get legal aid to help you with your debts unless a creditor is making you bankrupt or taking court action to evict you from your home


You’ll no longer be able to get legal aid to help you with housing problems unless:

there’s serious disrepair in your home
you’re homeless
you’re being evicted from your home
the council is taking action against you because of anti-social behaviour.


You won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with an employment dispute or go to an employment tribunal unless it’s a discrimination case.

Private family law

You won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with private family law problems unless you’re a victim or are at risk of domestic violence or there has been or is a risk of child abuse These include:

dissolution of civil partnership
financial disputes
property disputes
disputes over children.

Asylum support

If you’re an asylum seeker, you won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with asylum support unless you have applied for both housing and financial support.

Non-asylum immigration

You won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with an immigration application unless you:

have been detained
make an application under the domestic violence rules
make an application because you’re a victim of human trafficking.


You won’t get legal aid to help with education problems unless the child or young adult has Special Educational Needs.

Consumer and general contract law

You won’t get legal aid for any action you want to take for consumer problems or problems you have with general contracts.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority cases

You won’t get legal aid to help with the costs of trying to get compensation because you’ve suffered a criminal injury.

Clinical negligence cases

You won’t get legal aid for most clinical negligence problems.
What will you still be able to get legal aid for

You’ll still be able to get legal aid for the following problems:

care proceedings
family mediation
asylum applications
mental health proceedings
community care cases

Civil Legal Advice helpline

The Civil Legal Advice national helpline on 0845 345 4345 provides specialist legal advice for people who are eligible for civil legal aid.

The service offers advice in six areas of law:

welfare benefits appeals.

The helpline only offers advice on problems for which you can still get legal aid.

Legal aid for debt, discrimination and Special Educational Needs problems

If you need to apply for legal aid for a debt, discrimination or Special Educational Needs problem, you must apply through the telephone gateway service run by Civil Legal Advice on 0845 345 4345.

Financial eligibility for civil legal aid

There are also changes to who will qualify for civil legal aid, based on the amount of income and capital you have.

If you receive a passporting benefit, your capital will now be assessed to see if you’re eligible to get civil legal aid. Passporting benefits include:

Income Support
income-related Employment and Support Allowance
income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
guarantee credit part of Pension Credit
Universal Credit.

There are also increases in the amount of contributions you’ll have to pay towards the cost of civil legal aid.

More about civil legal aid

Citizens Advice Bureau – Changes to Legal Aid

I cannot believe that us as a nation, collectively, we allowed this to happen. The amount of damage this is going to cause will be astronomical.

Also under the Financial eligibility section, does that mean that the disabled wont get Legal Aid anymore, as they are not mentioned as a passport benefit.

As around 60% of families in Tower Hamlets are living in abject poverty, then why have we not seen any of our representatives, councillors or MP’s make statements on this? try to create campaigns, march to parliaments etc. You know why because I dont think they give a damn about us.

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Lutfur Rahman : It’s official: Tower Hamlets has no case to answer on electoral fraud

April 11, 2013
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It’s official: Tower Hamlets has no case to answer on electoral fraud

March 28, 2013 by Lutfur

Press Release from Office of the Mayor of Tower Hamlets

It’s official: Tower Hamlets has NO CASE TO ANSWER on electoral fraud.

Mayor Lutfur Rahman and Tower Hamlets Council vindicated after Electoral Commission finds “insufficient evidence” to back opposition claims of widespread deception

Mayor Lutfur Rahman today praised Tower Hamlets’ electoral safeguards as “robust and highly effective” after an Electoral Commission report into allegations of widespread electoral fraud in by-elections in April and May 2012 were found to be groundless.

Opposition councillors made an astonishing 154 separate allegations of which 151 were dismissed entirely and only 3 offered grounds for concern. An investigation by the Metropolitan Police found that there was “insufficient evidence to prove an offence” had been committed on any of these.

Mayor Lutfur Rahman said: “These allegations were nothing less than a systematic attempt to discredit our robust and highly effective electoral safeguards. The Electoral Commission report is a vindication for this administration and the excellent council officers who impartially administer the electoral process in Tower Hamlets.”

The report indicated that a “breakdown in trust” between certain opposition councillors and the administration, based on “local political disagreements” was at the root of the allegations.
Out-of-date electoral registers used by campaigners and an inability to differentiate between Bangladeshi names were also to blame, the report found.

Cllr. Ohid Ahmed, Deputy Mayor said. “I’m pleased, but not surprised, that these allegations were found to be baseless. I can’t imagine a clearer case of sour grapes than this – attacking the system when it doesn’t give you the result you want. I hope all those responsible will publicly apologise for crying wolf.”

This is not the first time that Mayor Lutfur Rahman has been accused and then vindicated of voter fraud. In 2010 his beaten rival Helal Abbas claimed widespread fraud after Mr Rahman’s landslide victory in the selection to be Labour’s Mayoral candidate.

Cllr. Ahmed further added: “It seems that Labour and Tory opposition councillors can’t process the fact that the people of Tower Hamlets have rejected their divisive and self-interested politics. Instead of looking to their own failings they repeatedly try to discredit the system and are repeatedly proven wrong.”
“At a time of huge government cuts, what I’d like to see is how much these frivolous claims have cost the ratepayer – that’s the real crime.”

Notes to Editors:
Full details of the Electoral Commission’s report can be viewed here:,-but-action-needed-to-restore-trust-and-confidence,-says-electoral-commission

For information about this press release contact Numan Hussain, Political Advisor to the Mayor, on 07508 352 023 or email

It’s official: Tower Hamlets has no case to answer on electoral fraud

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Cllr Rachel Saunders – My Hustings Speech

April 11, 2013
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My hustings speech
Posted on March 30, 2013 by Rachael Saunders

I know a number of local members had hoped to make the hustings but didn’t make it. I thought it might be worth blogging my speech notes from the last hustings session. Do get in touch if there are any questions at all you’d like to ask.


Good evening

As-salam alaykum

I’m Rachael Saunders

Won a by election in Mile End East in 2008, re elected in 2010.

Been chief whip, led for the Labour Group on health, social care and equalities, in cabinet and in opposition.

So why am I standing for this selection?

I am not standing in opposition to any other candidate, but because I feel so strongly about what we need to do to win the election, run the council, lead the borough, and move Tower Hamlets forward.

We need rebuild trust.

I believe that the way we create the change we need in Tower Hamlets is to start from the bottom up. When we’ve lost elections in Tower Hamlets, it has been because we think that just rolling out the dusty old Labour Party machine is enough to win.

It isn’t.

We ran a conventional campaign in the 2012 GLA elections, and although we got a good result locally, turnout was only 34%. We won’t win back the council if we can only inspire 34% of people to come out of their houses to vote.

We have a national disaffection with politics, made worse in Tower Hamlets by the mess we made of tackling the destructive factions within our own ranks.

Last time, in the mayoral election in 2010, people stayed at home, annoyed with a mayoral system they didn’t like and alienated by a party that had turned in on itself.

I’m the candidate that can change that.

I have a clear vision for how we create a shared future for Tower Hamlets.

We will make change in Tower Hamlets if we back the people who know best how to build our communities – the people that live here.

The Tories Big Society is meaningless and empty because they want philanthropy, not a shift in power. They want people to run services, but only because they want to cut budgets.

My politics is different, because it is based on a belief in the value of every individual and the different contributions they can make.

Our strength in Tower Hamlets is the diversity of the skills, knowledge, experiences, ideas that our people bring, through the many different routes that brought us here to the east end.

The greatest human tragedy is when those talents are wasted, through the wreckage of human potential of poverty, ill health, poor education, overcrowding, unemployment.

Our future is built together, and politics is the place where we combine our collective power to advance our shared interests.

For that to work, we have to hold those with money and power to account.

money flows through Tower Hamlets – Crossrail, Canary Wharf, the Olympics on our doorstep – but local people see little benefit.

That must change.

Jobs for local people, the strong public services I’ve fought for in my campaigning on the NHS, creation of social and affordable housing – these are my building blocks of a shared future.

The power of the mayoral model must be shared too.

Opposed mayoral model, want to work with you on a new constitutional settlement, a new way of doing politics. Agree as soon as selected so you can hold me to account once elected.

I would be transparent, open and inclusive in decision making, because it is right, and because the way you do politics determines the nature of the change you are able to make.

I am the Mayor that would bring the borough together, women and men, across ethnic communities, across streets and estates. I know how to bring the public, private and voluntary sector together to get things done.

The people who are backing me know that I am the change we need to win.

Trade unions – not blokes on regional committees, but workers in the town hall who voted to support me because they know I have their interests at heart.

My councillor colleagues, including the deputy leader of the Labour Group. An ice skating baroness! Three people who have led this council who have run this council before, and know I could do it too.

Friends, support me, join with me, to move Tower Hamlets forward.

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Regarding our councillors blogs

April 11, 2013
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I’m looking across our councillors blogs and noticed their all restricting any comments on them, so I’ve decided to mirror their latest posts so that you can now comment on them here.

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