Legal aid could help special educational needs cases

041127-N-8801B-079'Dubai, United Arab Emirates (Nov. 27, 2004) - Culinary Specialist Seaman Barbara E. Rodriguez, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), spends time on a community relations visit to the Dubai Center for Special Needs. Rodriguez spent several of her in-port liberty hours helping children with special needs draw pictures during the center's morning art class. The center is a non-profit, all volunteer staff, whose purpose is to educate children with special needs with basic life building skills. The USS Essex Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG), are providing security and stability in the North Arabian Gulf, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Travis M. Burns (RELEASED)
041127-N-8801B-079'Dubai, United Arab Emirates (Nov. 27, 2004) - Culinary Specialist Seaman Barbara E. Rodriguez, assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), spends time on a community relations visit to the Dubai Center for Special Needs. Rodriguez spent several of her in-port liberty hours helping children with special needs draw pictures during the center's morning art class. The center is a non-profit, all volunteer staff, whose purpose is to educate children with special needs with basic life building skills. The USS Essex Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG), are providing security and stability in the North Arabian Gulf, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate Airman Travis M. Burns (RELEASED)

‘My child has been diagnosed with autism but, despite having special educational needs (SEN), my local authority is refusing to accept our medical evidence and provide the support required.’

‘I want to appeal against the council’s decision but don’t think I can afford to pay for legal advice - what can I do?’

Roger says: civil legal aid helps to pay for the costs of getting legal advice if you’re on a low income.

There have been large cuts to civil legal aid budget and unless special circumstances apply legal aid is no longer available for many types of problems.

Fortunately, if you meet the financial conditions, legal aid is still available for people appealing against special educational needs assessments decisions.

In some cases, legal aid is free.

In other cases, you may have to pay towards the cost.

Unless you are on certain benefits, your income will have to be assessed to decide if you qualify for legal aid.

Whether or not you are eligible for legal aid, there are organisations you can contact for free advice about SEN appeals and these can be found on our adviceguide website.

If you need to apply for legal aid for a special educational needs issue, you should contact the telephone gateway service run by Civil Legal Advice on 03453454345.

It is open from 9am to 8pm from Monday to Friday and from 9am to 12.30pm on a Saturday.

It’s important for people to be aware that although Legal Aid has been cut, it is still available in certain circumstances.

If you have a legal problem, it is worth finding out if you qualify for Legal Aid.

If you would like further guidance or are unsure, please pop in to your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

The Ilkeston bureau is located at the Albion Leisure Centre, East Street, DE7 5JB.

The centre is open Monday to Friday from 10am until 4pm.

You can telephone for advice on 0844 375 2712 during weekdays, between 9.30am and 4pm.

Citizen’s Advice can help with a variety of problems including benefit issues, housing problems and debt.