As welfare rights advice gets ever harder to find, there are a growing number of organisations and individuals offering commercial PIP appeal services, including no-win, no-fee. We’d like to hear from you if you’ve used, or considered using, one.
We’ve also produced a ‘No-win, no-fee cost calculation tool’ so you can work out just how much such a service might set you back.
Advice agencies are increasingly overwhelmed as debt and housing problems hit more and more people. And this year’s Law Society survey shows that 84% of the population no longer have access to a welfare legal aid provider.
So, it’s no surprise that every week Benefits and Work receives emails asking us if we will provide representation at an appeal or if we can recommend another company which will do so.
We always respond by saying that it’s not something we do and instead offer the address of the Advice Local website to try to find free representation.
But we do know that the vast majority of advice providers are massively overstretched and most people who want representation are unlikely to get it.
So, it’s not surprising that people turn to commercial services to get help, if they can’t cope with the stress of an appeal hearing unsupported.
However, we never pass on the details of companies offering representation on commercial terms, primarily because we have no objective way of judging whether they are good at what they do or not.
And, until quite recently, there were hardly any businesses offering such a service anyway.
But now, even the most basic web search will throw up lots of companies offering paid-for PIP representation, sometimes for a fixed-fee, but most often on a no-win, no-fee basis.
The usual rate is around 35% of the back payment. Fixed-fee services tend to be in excess of £1,000. But many firms do not tell you what their terms are, you need to contact them first to find out.
Some of these groups are Community Interest Companies, some are sole practitioners and there are even some solicitors firms offering first-tier tribunal representation.
Some companies give the names of their staff along with any qualifications or experience they have. Others are entirely anonymous.
A few publish success rates, though there is no way of verifying these.
So, we thought we’d ask our readers, have you ever considered using one of these services?
If you went ahead, how did it work out?
If you decided not to, what put you off?
And what did you do instead?
Please leave your comments below but please also be aware that we are not going to name individuals or organisations. So, if you do, we will edit names out of your post.
This is to avoid disreputable companies providing bogus glowing reviews of their own service and untrue criticism of their rivals.
But if you have a cautionary tale to tell or a positive experience to share, we’d like to hear it.
We’ve also created a PIP appeal, no-win, no-fee cost calculator to allow you to calculate the likely price of such a deal.
The calculator page provides lots of other information too, including the high success rate for PIP appellants, the vast majority of whom are unrepresented.
And it looks at the different types of representation available and suggests some questions it’s worth asking before going down the paid-for route.