A comparative overview of European legal systems

A comparative overview of European legal systems

European legal systems are usually divided into three groups: civil law systems; common law systems; and bijuridical systems (which have a mixed civil law/common law heritage). The overwhelming majority of the 50 countries in Europe are classed as civil law jurisdictions. Only Cyprus, Malta, Ireland, and the UK utilise common law systems. This article outlines the differences between the systems. Civil law systems The origins of European civil law can be traced back to the sixth century…

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About the Court of Protection

About the Court of Protection

If you have a family member, friend or neighbour who you think is having difficulties making decisions about their finance and property or their personal welfare, then they may need someone to be appointed to make these decisions on their behalf. The Court of Protection deals with these situations. What the Court of Protection does The Court of Protection was created under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. It makes decisions, and also appoints other people…

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Access to education for children and young people with medical needs

Access to education for children and young people with medical needs

Most children with medical needs can attend school and, with some support, take part in the majority of school activities. If your child cant go to school because of health problems, your local authority has a responsibility to make arrangements for them to continue their education. If your child gets sick at school Schools must, by law, provide a space which can be used for the treatment of sick or injured pupils, and for first…

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An overview of anti-terror laws

An overview of anti-terror laws

Media coverage of events throughout the world, particularly the September 11th attacks in the US and the police operations both before and after the July 7th bombings in the UK, have brought terrorism into a political focus. Consequently, there is a wealth of anti-terrorism legislation in the UK, which has made significant changes to the law in relation to police investigations, police powers and prosecutions in terrorist offences. Since 2000, there have been five major…

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Applying to buy your home through Right to Acquire

Applying to buy your home through Right to Acquire

Buying your housing association home with the Right to Acquire scheme is a simple process. First, youll need to ask your landlord if you qualify for the scheme. Find out what else you need to do and when. Your Right to Acquire application To start the process, ask your landlord for the Right to Acquire claim form (RTA1). You can also download the form from the link below. Complete and return the RTA1 form to…

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Are the police allowed to take and keep fingerprints and DNA?

Are the police allowed to take and keep fingerprints and DNA?

Fingerprints and DNA samples are forms of identification evidence, which the police may use to link a suspect to a crime or crime scene. However, it is important to be aware of the circumstances in which the police are able to take such evidence. Fingerprints A suspect’s fingerprints may be taken either with or without his consent under section 61 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE); however, if the suspect is at…

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Becoming a School Governor

Becoming a School Governor

What is a school governor? A school governor is part of a governing body that can affect the leadership of a school.  However, a governor does not act independently. Instead, a governor will work with other governors and make decisions about the school together. What does a school governor do? School governors have a variety of duties including: Setting the objectives and aims of a school Creating policy to aid in the pursuit of said…

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Bins and waste collection

Bins and waste collection

Your local council is responsible for the collection and disposal of waste in your area. Find out when your bins are collected and how to report a missed collection. Also, learn what can be recycled and how to dispose of bulky items, electrical equipment and clinical waste. Find out when your bins and waste are collected Contact your local council Report a missed bin collection Report a missed bin collection Opens new window Your local…

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Buying your council or housing association home – your options

Buying your council or housing association home – your options

If you’re a council or housing association tenant, there are government schemes in place to help you buy your home. You can use Right to Buy and Right to Acquire to buy your home at a discount. You need to have been a tenant for at least five years. Help buying your home the basics You can use the Right to Buy and Right to Acquire schemes to buy your home at a discount on…

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Can I be arrested for joining a public protest?

Can I be arrested for joining a public protest?

Protesting is seen as essential to a modern-day democracy and, therefore, you should not be arrested for staging a peaceful public protest so long as you do not break any laws. Thousands of people protest each year, usually against the government for certain legislation it is planning to implement. The most famous protest in recent years was the protest against the Iraq war, when over a hundred thousand people marched through the streets of London…

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Can I claim any benefits if I am in residential care?

Can I claim any benefits if I am in residential care?

If you are moving permanently into residential care, and the council or NHS is paying your fees, some of the benefits you are already receiving may stop after a time. If you are paying the fees yourself, you may find that you are entitled to more help than when you were living at home. For example: The rules are different on the levels of savings you can have – the limits are higher if you…

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Can I make a citizens arrest?

Can I make a citizens arrest?

What is a ‘citizen’s arrest’? An arrest is best left to the police. However, the law accepts that this is not always possible – hence, the law of ‘citizen’s arrest’. The law of citizen’s arrest starts with the premise that detaining another person is unlawful in itself. In England and Wales, the power to detain a person suspected of involvement in criminal activity is a statutory power laid down in section 24A of the Police…

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Cancellation of identity cards: information for card holders

Cancellation of identity cards: information for card holders

Through the Identity Cards Act, the Government introduced national identity cards in 2006. What was the intended purpose of national identity cards in the UK? Intended as a weapon in the fight against crime, they were to assist in targeting terrorists, serious criminals using fake identities, welfare cheats and illegal immigrants. The identity card was linked to a national identity database containing photographs, national insurance numbers, dates of birth, addresses and biometric information such as…

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Changes to planning regulations for homeowners

Changes to planning regulations for homeowners

*This is archived content * From October 2008 the majority of homeowners no longer need to get planning permission when extending their existing homes. Other common building projects like fitting solar panels or converting a garage are also easier to carry out following changes to planning regulations. How do you benefit from the changes? The changes let you carry out some types of building work without needing to pay up to 1000 for planning permission….

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Citizens Advice Bureau

Citizens Advice Bureau

What is the Citizens Advice service? The Citizens Advice service is made up of two limbs: Citizens Advice Bureaux is the largest service in the UK offering free, confidential, impartial and independent advice and assistance throughout more than 3,500 locations in England and Wales – from high streets to doctors’ surgeries. Bureaux are manned by paid staff and volunteers. Citizens Advice is a registered charity and the membership base for bureaux. It establishes quality assurance…

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Citizens Advice Bureau

Citizens Advice Bureau

Citizens Advice Bureau Contact details for the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), which has a network of advice centres across the UK. It offers advice on a wide range of subjects from housing and health, to debt and consumer issues Find your nearest CAB officeOpens new window Citizens Advice Bureau Contact point Citizens Advice Bureau Address Myddelton House 115-123 Pentonville Road London N1 9LZ Phone number Admin office only 020 7833 2181 Fax 020 7833 4371…

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Civil justice

Civil justice

What is a ‘civil wrong’? A ‘civil wrong’ is committed against an individual when another individual or corporate entity does wrong causing them non-criminal harm. Any individual who believes that they have suffered a civil wrong at the hands of another is entitled to complete a claim form and send it to the appropriate court for processing. This is the first step in achieving civil justice. What is civil justice? The courts’ civil justice jurisdiction…

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Civil rights been violated?

Civil rights been violated?

Civil rights is an umbrella term used for all of the rights an individual should have. The name derives from the concept of the citizen, and the rights that they should have regardless of state powers. There are many civil rights, and the civil rights movement has changed all sections of society in many different countries. In the UK perhaps the most iconic period for civil rights began with the suffragette movement which sparked a…

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Commenting on appeals

Commenting on appeals

There is no third party right of appeal in England and Wales. However, anyone who lives near the appeal site or has an interest in the appeal can make a comment on the process. Who to contact should you wish to comment Appeals are handled by the Planning Inspectorate not the local authority. If you wish to comment on an appeal you will need to make your views known to the Planning Inspectorate. The way…

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Commenting on other applications

Commenting on other applications

If you wish to have your say on a planning application, there is a limited amount of time in which you can send comments to the local planning office as the decision process needs to stick to timetables. Finding out about developments If you are affected by a new development proposal, you may first hear about it as a neighbour who is informally consulted by the developer. After the planning application has been made, the…

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Community Care: Can I get help if I look after someone?

Community Care: Can I get help if I look after someone?

You have the legal right to an assessment, called a carer’s assessment, if you provide a lot of care for someone and are not paid for it. A carer’s assessment will look at whether the person you care for is getting the right support and services, and also at: your needs; whether you have a choice over the type of caring tasks you do and how long you spend doing them; and whether your work,…

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Community Care: Further help

Community Care: Further help

Civil Legal Advice Provides free information direct to the public on a range of common legal problems. Call 0845 345 4 345 If you qualify for legal aid, get free advice from a specialist legal adviser about benefits and tax credits, debt, education, employment or housing. Also find a high quality local legal adviser or solicitor. Click http://claonlineadvice.justice.gov.uk Find a high quality local legal adviser or solicitor, link to other online information. Advice Guide website:…

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Community Care: Introduction

Community Care: Introduction

If you or someone you know or look after finds it difficult to manage day-to-day living, you may be able to get help in the form of community care. This leaflet explains how to find out what help you may be able to get, and whether you will have to pay for it. There is information on:

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Community Care: What if I have to go into hospital?

Community Care: What if I have to go into hospital?

You are entitled to an assessment to decide what help you may need on leaving hospital. In England, the hospital must tell your local social services department if you are likely to need care services after leaving hospital. Also, if you are coming out of a hospital where you are receiving ‘acute care’ (for example, after an operation or treatment following an accident), your council should (in England) carry out a care assessment within strict…

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Community Care: What if I need ongoing nursing care?

Community Care: What if I need ongoing nursing care?

If you’re assessed as needing a care home that provides nursing care, and you’re eligible for NHS continuing healthcare, then the NHS may pay for all your care. If you’re not eligible for NHS continuing healthcare, then the NHS must still pay for the part of your care you need a registered nurse for, however much income or savings you have. You may have to pay some or all of the accommodation and personal care…

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Community Care: What if I need to move into a care home?

Community Care: What if I need to move into a care home?

Your council should provide residential care for people whose needs mean they can’t reasonably be expected to live at home or in supported accommodation (for example, a warden-assisted home). In some cases, residential care is free, no matter how much money you have. This includes where you are: eligible for NHS continuing healthcare; getting intermediate (temporary) care; or going into residential care after being held in hospital under certain parts of the Mental Health Act….

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Community Care: What kind of help is there?

Community Care: What kind of help is there?

There are basically two types of care: community care (also called ‘social care’); and healthcare. Community care for people who are older, ill or disabled is the responsibility of your council’s social services department. It can include, for example: help with personal care: for example, getting up and dressed, bathing and laundry; meals on wheels; aids and adaptations to your home to make basic tasks easier and safer; a community alarm, so you can call…

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Community Care: Where do I start if I think I need help?

Community Care: Where do I start if I think I need help?

What is community care and who can benefit from it? ‘Community care’ describes all care services arranged or provided by the local authority social services department. Recipients of community care services fall into three groups: 1. the elderly 2. the disabled 3. the physically and/or mentally impaired. What types of community care services are available? Community care services vary considerably and may include: placement in a care home home care home help home adaptations meals…

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Community Care: Who pays if I get care in my home?

Community Care: Who pays if I get care in my home?

If you are eligible for NHS continuing healthcare at home, the NHS pays for your care. If you are not eligible, you may have to pay for that part of your care provided or arranged by social services. Councils can charge for services they provide. But in some cases they should pay for some or all of the costs of care in your home: If you suffer from CJD (Creuzfeldt Jacob Disease), you shouldn’t pay…

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Community Care: Will I have to sell my home?

Community Care: Will I have to sell my home?

For some people, the value of their home alone will take them over the capital limits and they will have to pay care-home fees. If this is the case for you, you may need to sell your home to pay those fees, if you can’t pay them from your savings or other money. But there are circumstances when the council cannot take the value of your home into account, in particular if someone close to…

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Community involvement

Community involvement

The government is keen for individuals and communities to take an active part in the planning process. Having your say requires access to information and willingness to given an opinion, either as an individual or in a group. How you can get involved in the planning process The law requires both local and regional planning bodies to prepare a statement of community involvement. These set out policy on involving the community in preparing regional spatial…

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Community justice

Community justice

The aim of community justice is to improve local quality of life. It lets people get involved in making their area a better place to live in by helping to reduce anti-social behaviour like graffitiing, vandalism and drug dealing. Community justice in your community Community justice isalso about making sure that people who are affected by bad behaviour and crime have a say in how things are sorted out in their community. This means getting…

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Community Support Officers

Community Support Officers

What are Community Support Officers? Community Support Officers, or Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), are trained, civilian members of police staff who work alongside their police officer colleagues. What is the purpose of Community Support Officers? PCSOs serve a number of different purposes. They: provide reassurance to members of the public act as a deterrent against crime support front-line policing in a non-confrontational capacity maintain public order address low-level anti-social behaviour and youth disorder. PCSOs…

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Complaining about the police or council on crime or anti-social behaviour

Complaining about the police or council on crime or anti-social behaviour

The Police will always aim to provide a high quality service and a quick and effective solution to anti-social behaviour or crime.There may be times when this doesnt happen or you wish to comment on the service you have received (including when you want to give positive feedback). You can do this in a number of ways. You can raise issues with your neighbourhood policing team: in person at a community meeting by speaking to…

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Conservation areas and advice

Conservation areas and advice

Conservation areas are places which are desirable to preserve as a result of special architectural or historic interest. You can apply for planning permission to alter a building in a conservation area below. Areas of cultural or historical importance Areas that include important examples of our social, cultural and aesthetic history must be safeguarded from indiscriminate or ill-considered change. These areas often contain listed buildings. However, it is not always enough to protect these buildings…

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Consulates and embassies

Consulates and embassies

Embassies, consulates and high commissions represent the UK in other countries through the British consul. Find out how the British consul works to protect the interests of UK nationals and dual nationals abroad. You can also find out how to find a British embassy or consulate. What diplomatic missions are called Diplomatic missions are always in capital cities of countries. In a Commonwealth country, a diplomatic mission is known as a ‘high commission’. In a…

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Council housing – evictions

Council housing – evictions

Your council will always take all reasonable steps to try to resolve tenancy or rent arrears problems. However, if all else fails, the council will apply to the courts to repossess a property. Reasons for eviction The most common ground for eviction is non-payment of rent, although it is possible for tenants breaching any other aspect of their tenancy agreement to be evicted. Once a possession order is obtained from the courts any application to…

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Council housing – tenancy issues

Council housing – tenancy issues

Your council deals with a wide range of issues relating to its tenants. All councils have a policy, ruling how they allocate property and treat tenants. They aim to treat all tenants the same and will not discriminate against anyone. The Tenancy Agreement When someone moves into their council house, they receive a copy of the Tenancy Agreement. This clearly states what a tenant’s responsibilities are and outlines all of the conditions. These refer to…

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Council rent, parking and other charges

Council rent, parking and other charges

Paying your council rent Information for council tenants about how you can pay your rent Setting rents for council housing Find out here how rents are set for council housing Insuring your council home and its contents Information for council tenants on insuring your council home and its contents Parking on council estates Information and advice on parking within social housing estates Rent arrears (money, tax and benefits section) Falling behind with your rent –…

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Council tenants – your right to repairs

Council tenants – your right to repairs

What is the Right to Repair scheme? The ‘Right to Repair’ scheme grants Council tenants rights to have certain repairs done within prescribed time limits. These repairs fall broadly into two categories: minor repairs, which can be completed quickly and easily urgent repairs, which have the potential to affect health, safety or security. Council and Housing Association tenants should report repairs within a reasonable time of their discovery and certainly before the problem is exacerbated….

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Court of Protection hearings, Visitors and Deputies

Court of Protection hearings, Visitors and Deputies

Hearings for the Court of Protection are held at a central administration area in London, and in regional centres across England and Wales. You can find details for these below. There is also information for Deputies, and about who Court Visitors are and what they do. Hearing centres for cases The central administration (Registry) for the Court of Protection is based in Archway, North London. This is the hearing centre for cases heard in London…

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Crime prevention

Crime prevention

Getting involved There’s a lot you can do to help police keep your neighbourhood safe. By getting involved, you can find out what’s going on in your area and make a real difference to people in your community Neighbourhood Watch Find out what Neighbourhood Watch is and how you can start or join a local group Women’s safety Women and girls are often the targets of violence, stalking and other crimes; learn where you can…

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Data protection and identity theft

Data protection and identity theft

Data Protection What is the Data Protection Act? The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) controls how organisations, businesses and the Government (‘data controllers’) handles personal information and gives legal rights to individuals who have information stored about them (‘data subjects’). The DPA protects personal data stored in physical and electronic form. How does the Data Protection Act work? The DPA protects personal information in two ways: The DPA establishes rules, called ‘data protection principles’, which…

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Dealing with discrimination at work

Dealing with discrimination at work

If your discrimination happened at work, you may be able to take your case to an employment tribunal. The law says that you and your employer must follow a statutory grievance procedure (one set by law) before you can take your case to a tribunal. This means that you must send your employer a grievance, which is a letter saying why you believe you were discriminated against. You must normally do this within three months…

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Dealing with other types of discrimination

Dealing with other types of discrimination

You should take your claim to the county court if you have been discriminated against because of your sex, and it was about: buying or renting a house or flat; going to school or university; or buying and using goods or services. The Equal Opportunities Commission can give you help and advice. It can also advise you how to deal with a complaint, including going to a tribunal or to court. See ‘Further help’ for…

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Dealing with problems with drains and sewers

Dealing with problems with drains and sewers

If you have a problem with a blocked drain you can usually get help from your local council’s environmental health department. Public sewers and drains Drains take foul sewage (waste from toilets, bathrooms and kitchens) and surface water (rain water) away from your property. Sewers are the pipes that take sewage and surface water away from more than one property. Sewers are either publicly or privately maintained. If they are publicly maintained, the local water…

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Decent Homes standard

Decent Homes standard

All property owned and managed by the council must meet the Decent Homes standard. To meet the standard, property must have reasonably modern facilities, be warm and weatherproof. Improving standards The government wants all social housing to be brought up to the Decent Homes standard by 2010. To improve its housing stock, some councils may need further investment to assist with the financial cost. Three schemes designed to help local councils are: transferring stock to…

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Devolved government in the UK

Devolved government in the UK

What is ‘devolution’? The UK consists of four countries: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The process of ‘devolution’ involves the UK Parliament – located in Westminster, central London – transferring power and authority to assemblies situated in Cardiff, Belfast and the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. When did devolution start? In 1997, Scotland and Wales held public votes and, one year later, Ireland followed suit. These votes led to the establishment of the Scottish Parliament,…

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Differences between police officers, special constables and PCSOs

Differences between police officers, special constables and PCSOs

Police officers, special constables and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) are all employed by police forces within the UK, yet they all have different roles and powers. Police Officers Police officers enforce the law within the UK by apprehending criminals, preventing and detecting crime and maintaining public order. They have a wide range of powers provided under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and will be the most commonly recognisable members of the police…

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Different branches of the police

Different branches of the police

Previous generations of children may have grown up with one particular image of a policeman or policewoman who where known affectionately as “bobbies on the beat”. That image would have been formed in their minds through years of seeing policeman on the street in their uniform carrying out their general policing. Nowadays there are still thousands of police officers on our streets protecting the peace. The difference today is that the police have far more…

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Disability Discrimination Act 1995: what the law says

Disability Discrimination Act 1995: what the law says

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 protects you against the discrimination you may face as a disabled person. The Act says it is discrimination if you are treated less favourably than someone else just because you have a disability, or for a reason that is to do with your disability. The law also says that employers, public authorities (such as your local council or the police), private clubs, schools, colleges and service providers must make ‘reasonable…

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Disability discrimination and employment tribunals

Disability discrimination and employment tribunals

If you want to bring a claim under the Disability Discrimination Act, you must send it on form ET1 to an employment tribunal office. You can get this form from an employment tribunal, a Jobcentre or the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The employment tribunal will accept your claim only if you use the correct form and include on it all the information they need. If your claim is because of treatment from someone you…

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Disability discrimination at school or college

Disability discrimination at school or college

The Disability Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against disabled people who are: students; applying to a school or college; or potential applicants to a school or college. It also applies to former students of some types of educational institution for people aged over 16. This means that a school or college would be breaking discrimination laws if it, for example: refused to accept applicants with a visual impairment; refused access to a student…

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Disability discrimination at work

Disability discrimination at work

When you are applying for a job, an employer must not discriminate against you by treating you less favourably in deciding who should be offered the job, and in setting the terms of the employment contract. When deciding who should be offered the job, an employer must avoid discrimination in the: job description; ‘person specification’ (a description of the skills, experience and qualifications needed to do the job); application form; short-listing process; interviewing; and final…

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Disability discrimination by private clubs and associations

Disability discrimination by private clubs and associations

There are special rules for private clubs and associations that have 25 or more members. A private club is defined as one with a constitution that regulates admission to membership so that it is not open to all members of the public. Most sports clubs and gyms are not covered by the special rules, but are covered by the law relating to service providers. A club where members must go through a selection process (a…

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Disability discrimination by public authorities

Disability discrimination by public authorities

A public authority is an organisation ‘whose functions are functions of a public body’. This includes, for example: government departments; the Home Office; the Prison Service; local councils; NHS boards and trusts; the police; the Crown Prosecution Service; and the BBC. Some tasks and certain organisations are not covered by this part of the Disability Discrimination Act. However, these exceptions are complicated. If you believe a public authority has discriminated against you, you will need…

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Disability discrimination when buying and using goods and services

Disability discrimination when buying and using goods and services

‘Goods, facilities and services’ include things that are free, as well as those you pay for. The term covers many businesses and services, including: shops, including mail-order and internet shopping services; hotels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs; bus and railway stations, airports and leisure centres; bank accounts, loans, credit cards and insurance; government departments, courts, doctors and law firms; services offered by local councils, such as parks; trains, trams, taxis, mini cabs, most rental vehicles and…

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Disability discrimination when buying or renting a property

Disability discrimination when buying or renting a property

The law on discrimination against disabled people applies to most sorts of property, including houses and flats as well as business premises. However, it doesn’t cover certain types of property and arrangement, including small properties where: the landlord (or one of their close relatives) lives in the same building and shares some of the living accommodation (including a kitchen or bathroom, but not just a hallway or stairs) with the tenant; and the landlord (or…

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Discrimination – what are your rights?

Discrimination – what are your rights?

The law protects you from discrimination due to your age, gender, race, religion or beliefs, disability or sexual orientation. Find out where and how you are protected, and what to do if you have been discriminated against. Who is protected? Discrimination can happen in many different ways but you have rights to protect you By law people are protected from discrimination on the grounds of: race sex sexual orientation disability (or because of something connected…

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Discrimination because of your age

Discrimination because of your age

Under the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, it is unlawful for an employer or potential employer to discriminate against you at work because of your age. This includes: deciding not to employ you; dismissing you; giving you worse terms and conditions at work; not giving you training or a promotion; and not giving you the same benefits as people of a different age. You are also protected from harassment (see page 4) and victimisation (see…

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Discrimination because of your religion or beliefs

Discrimination because of your religion or beliefs

Under English law, you are entitled to practise your religion or hold beliefs, express your views and get on with your daily life without fear of threats or discrimination. This guide provides information about your legal rights and what to do if you are being discriminated against on the grounds of your religion or belief. Religion and belief You have the legal right to hold your own religious beliefs or other philosophical beliefs similar to…

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Discrimination because you are gay, lesbian or bisexual

Discrimination because you are gay, lesbian or bisexual

If you think you may have been discriminated against at work because you are gay, lesbian or bisexual, this guide will help you to understand your employment rights and how to exercise them. Sexual orientation ‘Sexual orientation’ is also known as sexuality or sexual preference. Your sexual orientation is determined by the sex or sexes you are sexually attracted to: Heterosexual people are attracted to the opposite sex Homosexual (gay and lesbian) people are attracted…

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Do human rights apply to convicted criminals?

Do human rights apply to convicted criminals?

The human rights enshrined within the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which has been incorporated into UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998, apply to everyone, including convicted criminals. Some of these rights are absolute, such as the right not to be subjected to torture or inhuman and degrading treatment; however, some rights are subject to limitations and, if there is a good legal basis for doing so, they can be restricted. Consequently,…

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Do I have to do jury service and what is it like?

Do I have to do jury service and what is it like?

Jury Service is a civic duty and you can therefore be called upon to be part of a jury at any point. For public policy reasons it is clear that there always needs to be sufficient people to partake in jury service and that it should cover all demographics. For that reason it is very difficult to avoid jury service, which in almost all cases is a mandatory requirement. A jury consists of 12 randomly…

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Do we need a UK Bills of Rights?

Do we need a UK Bills of Rights?

The UK is one of the few states in the world that does not have a written constitution. A constitution is a document which sets out the rights of every citizen and dictates how power should be used. The most famous example is the US constitution which lists the rights of citizens and acts as guidance for powerful institutions such as Congress. The constitution itself is of course a clear and identifiable symbol of a…

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Do you need planning permission?

Do you need planning permission?

Before you start any building work, you must check if you need planning permission. If you fail to do this, you may break the law. Find out how to apply for planning permission and what other permissions – for example, relating to party walls – you might need before work begins. Find out if you need planning permission Use the interactive house on the Planning Portal, the government’s planning and building resource, to find out…

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Dog fouling

Dog fouling

Dog mess is a nuisance and is associated with various diseases, including ‘toxocariasis’. Dog owners should clean up after their dog in public places – you can report dog fouling that isn’t cleaned up to your local council. Complaining about dog fouling Report a dog fouling problem Connect direct to your council to report a dog fouling problem Report a dog fouling problemOpens new window Councils can order owners to clean up after their dogs…

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Education: Further help

Education: Further help

Provides free information, help and advice direct to the public on a range of common legal issues. Call 0845 345 4 345 Speak to a qualified legal adviser about benefits and tax credits, debt, education, housing or employment or find local advice services for other problems. Click https://claonlineadvice.justice.gov.uk Find a quality local legal adviser or solicitor and links to other sources of online information and help. Advisory Centre for Education (ACE) General advice line: 0808…

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Education: Introduction

Education: Introduction

Most parents are happy with their child’s education. But when things go wrong, parents often feel that their child’s happiness, wellbeing and life chances are at stake. This section explains what you and your child can expect from a school and from your local authority.

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Election observers

Election observers

What is the purpose of election observers? Individuals and organisations interested in observing elections and certain referendums in the UK can apply to the Electoral Commission for accreditation. This unique access serves as a guarantee that UK electoral practices and procedures conform with internationally-recognised standards. What does an election observer do? An accredited election observer is empowered to: 1) attend the issue or receipt of postal ballot papers, the taking of the poll or the…

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Enforcement appeals

Enforcement appeals

If you have been served with an enforcement notice this information can help you decide whether there are grounds for appeal. Appeals process If you have gone ahead without the required permission the council may simply ask you to apply retrospectively. Much depends on the nature of the development and its effect on neighbours. If the council considers that the development involves a breach of planning control, it may take remedial enforcement action. You can…

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Exchanging council homes

Exchanging council homes

If you are a council house tenant wanting to move home, you may be able to exchange your home with another council or housing association tenant – this is called mutual exchange. Find out about mutual exchange A mutual exchange gives council tenants the opportunity to live in the property and area that meets their needs. The process involves two or more tenants exchanging their homes. For tenants of registered social landlords (other local authorities…

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Expert evidence

Expert evidence

A court case between two parties will often turn on the factual elements of the case rather than the specific legal arguments. Whilst court judges are experts in their specific legal area, they cannot be expected to be experts in everything. Therefore, in a complicated factual dispute, for example whether one business has infringed another business’s copyright, there will often be a need for an expert to provide evidence. The expert will be needed to…

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Fair trial

Fair trial

In the UK, the right to a fair trial has developed over centuries, and originally derived from sources such as the Magna Carta, the 1689 Bill of Rights and the common law. Today, however, the most pertinent authority is Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the “Convention”), which provides (in part) that: “In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a…

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FAQ 32 – I am homeless. What can I do?

FAQ 32 – I am homeless. What can I do?

The council should investigate why you became homeless. They may do this straight away, or ask you to return to their office at a later date. The council normally has 33 working days to make a decision. The council must tell you their decision in writing. If you think that the council have got it wrong you have the right to ask for this decision to be reviewed. Even if the council decides you are…

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FAQ 34 – My house is part of a Council Stock Transfer. How does this affect me?

FAQ 34 – My house is part of a Council Stock Transfer. How does this affect me?

A ‘council stock transfer’ means that you change from being a secure tenant of the council to an assured tenant of a registered social landlord. Before a transfer can take place your new landlord must agree to offer a new assured tenancy agreement. Your new tenancy agreement specifies your rights and sets out details of the rent and any other charges, how often they will increase, and how much notice you must get of any…

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Finding a listed building

Finding a listed building

You can find out if a building is listed through your local council. Finding listed buildings in your area If you want to do building work in your home or are moving into a new home which you plan to do building work on in future, you should check it’s not a listed building because different rules apply in this case. Your local council may have a list or catalogue of listed buildings, or you…

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Finding another socially rented home

Finding another socially rented home

If you are a social housing tenant there are a number of ways that you can apply to move home to another area. One alternative is to use a mobility scheme. Mobility schemes are designed to assist social housing tenants who wish to move within the social rented sector. Housing mobility schemes There are currently two housing mobility schemes: Seaside & Country Homes and LAWN and these are delivered by the housingmoves service on behalf…

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Finding out how your council spends your money

Finding out how your council spends your money

How is my local council funded? Local councils are funded in a number of ways. Firstly, the receive grant money from central government, secondly they received money from business taxes and finally they receive money through the council tax scheme.  How can I see on what my local council spends its money? Councils are expected to share information about their spending. If you visit your local council’s website you should find information on how it…

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First-past-the-post vs. proportional representation

First-past-the-post vs. proportional representation

The hung Parliament resulting from the May 2010 general election has raised the profile of a debate that has been going on in political circles for well over a hundred years. Should the UK continue with its “first-past-the-post” system of electing Members of Parliament, or should the country move to some form of proportional representation (PR) system? Most countries or regions that switch from first-past-the-post to PR do so in an attempt to address what…

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Fly-tipping – what you can do

Fly-tipping – what you can do

If you dump waste where it is not permitted you can face very large fines and even be sent to prison. If you see fly-tipping, you can report it to your council. What is fly-tipping? Fly-tipping is the illegal dumping of rubbish or bulky items on land not licensed to receive it. Fly-tipping can be dangerous, pollutes land and waterways and costs the council tax payer significant amounts of money to clear away. Dumping household,…

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Free speech

Free speech

Most people would agree that in an open, democratic society, free speech is essential. The press, the broadcast media and political opponents must have the freedom to criticise those in power. It is one of the ways that people in such a society hold their leaders accountable and express their individuality as free citizens. So no matter how vulgar, profane or distasteful a particular form of expression may be, a person has the right to…

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Freedom of information

Freedom of information

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 is a groundbreaking piece of legislation that provides the public with the right to access information held by public bodies. The Act came into force in full on 1 January 2005. The purpose of the Freedom of Information Act is to open up data held by public bodies to public scrutiny. Before the Act there was a voluntary code for information sharing, but following the approval of the Act…

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Further help >> Equal Opportunities

Further help >> Equal Opportunities

Equality and Human Rights Commission In England Disability Helpline phone: 08457 622 633 textphone: 08457 622 644 Helpline for other types of discrimination phone: 0845 604 6610 textphone: 0845 604 6620 In Wales Helpline phone: 0845 604 8810 textphone: 0845 604 8820 Advisory Centre for Education (ACE) For advice on discrimination in schools Helpline open Monday to Friday 2 to 5pm phone: 0808 800 5793 The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) To find your…

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Further help >> Racial Discrimination

Further help >> Racial Discrimination

Community Legal Service Direct Provides free information direct to the public on a range of common legal problems. Call: 0845 345 4 345 If you qualify for legal aid, get free advice from a specialist legal adviser about benefits and tax credits, debt, education, employment or housing. Also find a high quality local legal adviser or solicitor. Click: http://www.communitylegaladvice.org.uk/ Find a high quality local legal adviser or solicitor, link to other online information and see…

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General elections and European elections

General elections and European elections

Find out how elections are run, where to find election results, how constituency boundaries are decided and reviewed, and how to stand as a candidate. General elections In a general election, every area in the country votes for one Member of Parliament (MP) to represent them in the House of Commons. There are 646 geographical areas, called constituencies. Each eligible voter has one vote in their local constituency, and the candidate with the most votes…

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Getting graffiti and flyposters removed

Getting graffiti and flyposters removed

Graffiti and flyposting are illegal, spoil both public and private property and can be very costly to remove. Flyposting is the unauthorised placing of advertising – usually posters or stickers. You can report graffiti and flyposting to your council. Graffiti and flyposting fines Graffiti are words or drawings, that are written, painted, sprayed or scratched on the surface of any property. Flyposters usually advertise or promote events and are placed without permission of the owner…

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Getting help with planning

Getting help with planning

A wide range of advice is available to help you get involved in the planning system. Getting advice from your Local Planning Authority Your Local Planning Authority (LPA)is responsible for dealing with applications for planning permission in your area. LPAs employ professional planners to advise them in preparing Development Plans for an area and making decisions on individual planning applications. These officers are an important source of local knowledge and advice and should be your…

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Going to a special educational needs and disability tribunal (Sendist)

Going to a special educational needs and disability tribunal (Sendist)

If you have a disabled child who you think has suffered unlawful discrimination, you can normally make a claim to a special educational needs and disability tribunal (Sendist). This tribunal can order the discrimination to stop, but it cannot order financial compensation. However, if your complaint is about your child being refused admission to, or being permanently excluded from, a local authority-run school, you must complain to the local authority, not Sendist. If you want…

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Going to an employment tribunal

Going to an employment tribunal

You can take your case to an employment tribunal if: you have been through the grievance or disciplinary procedure but are unhappy with the result; your employer hasn’t followed the grievance or disciplinary procedure properly; or the grievance or disciplinary procedure does not apply to your case. In all these cases, you must also have put in your grievance to your employer at least 28 days ago. The cost of going to a tribunal can…

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Going to an employment tribunal >> Racial Discrimination

Going to an employment tribunal >> Racial Discrimination

If you want to make a complaint under the Race Relations Act, you must send your complaint either on form ET1 or in a letter to the Regional Office of Employment Tribunals. You can get this form from: Jobcentres; the CRE; or a local employment tribunal. You must make your complaint within three months, less one day, from the date when the discrimination first happened. If you use the employer’s internal grievance procedure, the time…

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Going to court

Going to court

If you want to take a case to court, you must start your case within six months minus one day from when the discrimination happened. You can take a case to court if the disability discrimination is about: education at college or university; providing goods and services; a public authority; a private club; or selling, renting or managing property. The court can give you copies of the claim form N1 and more information about procedures….

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Going to court >> Racial Discrimination

Going to court >> Racial Discrimination

If you want to take a case to a county court, you must start your case within six months less one day from the date when you first knew about the discrimination. There are specially selected courts for dealing with discrimination cases, which can give you copies of the claim form (N1) and more information about procedures. You should be able to get details of the courts that deal with discrimination cases from: any county…

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Government consultations

Government consultations

A government consultation, put simply, is when the government consults an external group, usually the general public or a group that specialises in a certain area, and takes those opinions on board when producing or amending a new piece of legislation. Why hold a consultation? There are a number of reasons why a government may wish to go through a consultation process, including the following: In order to gain expert opinion – government ministers cannot…

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Government departments and agencies

Government departments and agencies

The main role of government departments and their agencies is to implement government policy and to advise ministers. Staffing, finance and organisation Departments and agencies are staffed by politically impartial civil servants and are funded by Parliament. Theywork with local authorities, non-departmental public bodies, and other government-sponsored organisations. The structure and functions of departments are sometimes reorganised if there are major changes in government policy. A change of government, however, does not necessarily affect the…

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Government in Northern Ireland

Government in Northern Ireland

Since devolution, some policies and services are different in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive are responsible for most of the issues of day-to-day concern to the people of Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland Assembly The Northern Ireland Assembly was established as part of the Belfast Agreement (also known as the Good Friday Agreement) in 1998. Devolution to Northern Ireland was suspended in October 2002 and restored on 8 May 2007. The…

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Government in Scotland

Government in Scotland

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was formed from the union of the Kingdom of Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland by the Acts of Union 1800. Before this, the Kingdom of Britain was created by the union of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland in 1707. The Irish Free State was partitioned in 1922, to create the Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland, which remains part of the Union that is…

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Government in Wales

Government in Wales

Since devolution, some policies and services are different in Wales. The National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government are responsible for most of the issues of day-to-day concern to the people of Wales. National Assembly for Wales The National Assembly for Wales is the representative body, with law-making powers on devolved matters. It debates and approves legislation. The role of the Assembly is to scrutinise and monitor the Welsh Assembly Government. It has…

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Guide to renting an allotment

Guide to renting an allotment

Renting an allotment is a way of accessing land to grow your own fruit, flowers and vegetables. Its also a great way of exercising and getting involved with your local community. Find out about the different types of allotment, what you can do with an allotment, and the facilities to expect. Types of allotment There are three types of allotment: statutory allotments – these cannot be sold or used for other purposes without the consent…

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History and culture

History and culture

There are many online sources of information relating to historic documents and the cultural heritage of the United Kingdom. Key historical documents Key sources The National Archives, the British Library and the Parliamentary Archives hold the key documents relating to UK history. There’s a lot of information available online and some other sources are listed below. National Archives Opens new window The British Library Opens new window Magna Carta Magna Carta is often thought of…

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Homelessness – getting help from your council

Homelessness – getting help from your council

You don’t have to be living on the streets to be considered homeless. You can be legally homeless if your home is unsuitable for you or you have no legal right to be there. Find out what help your council can give you if you’re homeless or at risk of losing your home. Homelessness and your council Homelessness Councils must ensure that free housing advice and information is available for everyone. They must also provide…

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Housing allocation – general information

Housing allocation – general information

Your local council can allocate accommodation to you through a secure tenancy using its council housing stock. Councils can also nominate someone to be an assured tenant of a housing association home. Why do councils have housing allocation schemes? A council must have an allocations scheme which sets out the priorities and procedures for allocating housing. A council will: provide an application form to anyone who wishes to apply for housing assess whether someone who…

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Housing allocation – points system

Housing allocation – points system

Councils must ensure priority for social housing goes to those in the greatest need. Some councils do this by using a points system. Points are awarded according to the circumstances and level of housing need. What are points? The law states that in allocating housing ‘reasonable preference’ must be given to certain categories of persons. These categories are: people who are homeless people living in insanitary, overcrowded or unsatisfactory housing people who need to move…

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Housing allocation – rehousing decision appeals

Housing allocation – rehousing decision appeals

You can ask your council to review a decision to treat you as ineligible if you haven’t been given preference under the scheme due to ‘unacceptable behaviour’. This is behaviour serious enough to make a person unsuitable to be a tenant of the housing authority How to apply for a review If you think the decision is wrong you must write to the council. A senior officer who was not involved in the original decision…

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Housing associations – how to apply

Housing associations – how to apply

Housing associations offer independent property for rent run by Registered Social Landlords (RSLs). Find out how you can submit an application to be considered for housing association accommodation. Information on housing associations There are two routes you can take to be considered for a housing association property. You can apply directly to the relevant housing association or to your local council which may then ‘nominate’ you for a property. In both cases, you will have…

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Housing associations – what they are

Housing associations – what they are

Housing associations offer housing to local people often to people on a low income or people who need extra support. Find out more about how they are run, the types of property they offer and applying for a housing association property. How housing associations work Housing associations are separate from councils, but often work closely with them to offer flats and houses to local people. For example, people who become housing association tenants may have…

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Housing associations – what they are >> Council Housing

Housing associations – what they are >> Council Housing

Housing associations offer housing to local people often to people on a low income or people who need extra support. Find out more about how they are run, the types of property they offer and applying for a housing association property. How housing associations work Housing associations are separate from councils, but often work closely with them to offer flats and houses to local people. For example, people who become housing association tenants may have…

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Housing options and your local council

Housing options and your local council

Your local council can tell you about its services and about care homes and supported or sheltered housing in your area. Your local council should also have a list of housing association properties in your area, and can advise you which ones may be suitable. Sheltered housing Sheltered housing properties have generally been built for older people and/or disabled people. The accommodation is usually self-contained flats or bungalows. They often have an alarm call system…

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Housing renewal – funding for repairs and adaptations

Housing renewal – funding for repairs and adaptations

Local councils are able to provide discretionary assistance for housing renewal for householders. This may take the form of low cost loans and equity release, as well as grants to private homeowners and others to help them to renovate, repair or adapt their home. Home improvement grants for private householders Local authorities have a great deal of flexibility and freedom in providing discretionary assistance for repairs and adaptations. It is also for the local authority…

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Housing repairs – communal areas and services

Housing repairs – communal areas and services

If you live in a house or block of flats with other tenants there will be areas and services of the property used by several people. Some areas or services will be your responsibility to repair and maintain while others will be fall to your landlord. What are communal areas and services? Communal areas are those areas of a house or a block of flats or a street or an estate which tenants have a…

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Housing repairs – decoration and disturbance allowances

Housing repairs – decoration and disturbance allowances

You may be eligible for a payment to help with moving into a new home or to help decorate after the council has carried out work on your council home. In some cases the council will have to move you out of your property for a period of time. What is a decoration allowance? A decoration allowance is a payment made by the council to a tenant in two circumstances – where a tenant is…

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How byelaws are made and enforced

How byelaws are made and enforced

Byelaws are local laws made by local authorities like councils. Your local council can tackle problems in your area by making a byelaw to make something happen. You can usually have your say on suggested byelaws. If you break a byelaw you may have to pay a fine. What byelaws do Examples include: opening hours for parks and public spaces safety rules at arcades and fairs stopping people cycling or skating on public paths saying…

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How can I get the right education for my child if they have special needs?

How can I get the right education for my child if they have special needs?

A child has special needs and should get help at school if they: have significantly more difficulty in learning than other children of the same age; have a disability which affects how they can use educational facilities that are usually provided for children of the same age in the same area; or are under five, and are likely to fall within these categories when they reach compulsory school age. A learning difficulty can be the…

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How do I apply for a dropped kerb?

How do I apply for a dropped kerb?

Dropped kerbs are lowered kerbs on pavements that border roads in the UK. They allow a vehicle to easily pass from the road onto private property. Dropped kerbs are also called ‘vehicle access crossings’ or ‘crossovers’. The majority of properties in the UK will already have access to a dropped kerb to allow vehicles to park; however, there are many circumstances in which a property is sited next to a raised kerb, and the owner…

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How do I register to vote?

How do I register to vote?

You need to be on the electoral register to vote in UK elections and referendums. You’re not automatically registered, and you have to renew your details every year. Find out who is eligible and how to make sure you’re registered to vote. The electoral register The electoral register (sometimes called the ‘electoral roll’) is a list of the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote. It’s also used by credit reference agencies…

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How do I vote in an election?

How do I vote in an election?

You can vote in three ways. Find out what you need to do when you go to vote on election day, and how you can vote by post or proxy (someone voting for you) if you can’t get to the polling station. Registering to vote To vote in UK elections and referendums, you must be on the electoral register (the list of eligible voters). Find out more in ‘Registering to vote’. Registering to vote How…

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How does the Human Rights Act work?

How does the Human Rights Act work?

What is the Human Rights Act? The Human Rights Act is a UK law that was passed in 1998. The law was designed to ensure everyone in the UK is treated fairly and with respect.  It was written using the articles of the European Convention on Human Rights. The law ensures those rights guaranteed by the European Convention are followed in the British justice system. What rights does the Human Rights Act protect? The Human…

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How laws are made in Parliament

How laws are made in Parliament

Law in the UK comes from one of a number of different sources, but ultimately the power to produce laws is vested in Parliament. In the UK the principle parliament is based at the Palace of Westminster, although since 1998 the territories of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have had their own legislatures with varying degrees of power to create new law. In Scotland the Scottish Parliament, which sits in Holyrood in Edinburgh, has fairly…

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How police budgets work

How police budgets work

Your police force receives money from both national and local governments every year. While they have some freedom in how they spend the money, there are fairly strict limitations on spending. You have a right to know how much your local force spends. The role of police authorities Britain does not have a single national police force. Instead in England and Wales there are 43 individual forces. Each force operates under guidelines set by the…

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How the judicial system works

How the judicial system works

The United Kingdom has three different judicial systems one for England and Wales, another for Scotland and a third for Northern Ireland. Heres some basic information about each system and how it affects you. In England and Wales Criminal law covers the most serious crimes, such as murder, robbery and assault. These laws are enforced by the police and the courts, and anyone who breaks them can be prosecuted in court. If they are found…

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How to complain about local authority services

How to complain about local authority services

If you feel that a council service has not been properly delivered, you can submit an official complaint to your local authority. Making a formal complaint Your local authority welcomes feedback on the standard of service it provides. In this way they can learn from mistakes and improve services. If you have a concern or suggestion about a service, write or speak to a member of staff or the service manager. Contact information for this,…

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How you can help tackle crime

How you can help tackle crime

If you want to make sure that your community is as safe as possible, one of the best things to do is to get involved and help. The starting point is to report crime if you see it, but there are lots of other ways you can tackle crime and protect your neighbourhood. Reporting crime The police and other public services cant tackle crime and anti-social behaviour alone. If people don’t report crime or come…

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How your local council works

How your local council works

Local councils are run by democratically-elected councillors. They are responsible for making decisions on behalf of the local community about local services, such as land use, refuse collection, and leisure facilities. County and district councils In most of the country there are two tiers of local government: county councils and district councils. Larger towns and cities have just one council providing all the functions of the two. Parish and town councils In addition, all of…

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Human rights

Human rights

Anyone who is in the UK for any reason has fundamental human rights which the Government and public authorities are legally obliged to respect. These became law as part of the Human Rights Act 1998. Human Rights Act The Human Rights Act 1998 gives further legal effect in the UK to the fundamental rights and freedoms contained in the European Convention on Human Rights. These rights not only impact matters of life and death, they…

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Human Rights Act: Further help

Human Rights Act: Further help

For general information on the Human Rights Act, see the Liberty guide “Your Rights”, which is available from public libraries, or log onto Liberty’s website. If you want help on a particular human rights issue, you can contact the Liberty legal help line. It is available Monday and Thursday 6:30pm to 8:30pm and Wednesday 12:30mp to 2:30pm. Email Liberty at info@liberty-human-rights.org.uk Phone: 0845 123 2307 The Community Legal Service has been set up to help…

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Human Rights Act: Introduction

Human rights in the workplace

Human rights in the workplace

Your human rights are protected by the law. If your employer is a public authority, they must follow the principles of the Human Rights Act. Read about your human rights at work and what to do if you think they’ve been breached. The Human Rights Act The Human Rights Act was introduced in October 2000. It’s based on the European Convention on Human Rights and adds protection for workers’ rights and freedoms. Provisions within the…

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I am having difficulties with my university. What can I do?

I am having difficulties with my university. What can I do?

Who to approach if you are having problems with your university. If you are having difficulties with your university, remember that you have rights in the relationship. Your relationship with the university is controlled by the same set of rules that control any other contract. Your university is also bound by special rules that apply to public bodies. In addition, your university will have its own regulations, which differ between universities. You can usually find…

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I cant get my child into the school I want. What can I do?

I cant get my child into the school I want. What can I do?

Your rights when choosing a school for your child. You have the right to choose which state school in your area you want your child to go to. However, if that school is full or your child doesn’t meet its entry requirements you may be turned down. You may also have problems if your child has been excluded from their previous school two or more times. If more children apply for a place than there…

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Improvements and adaptations to a council property

Improvements and adaptations to a council property

Many tenants may wish to carry out improvements or alterations to their home. There will also be times when the council needs to make improvements to a home or to adapt a home to suit the needs of a person or the people who live there. What happens if you want to improve your home? Do you need to get permission? All council tenants have the right to improve their home but they will need…

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Improving your council property

Improving your council property

Under your tenancy agreement, you have the right to carry out improvements to your council property, like fitting a new bathroom suite, replacing kitchen units or building a new fireplace. Do you need permission? Before carrying out any improvements or alterations to your property, you must ask your local council for permission (which, if granted, will be given in writing). Permission will not be unreasonably refused- a council will only refuse permission if the proposed…

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Improving your council property yourself

Improving your council property yourself

If youre a council tenant you may want to carry out improvements to your property. The type of improvements you can do depends on what council tenancy you have. Find out more about carrying out work and when you need to get your councils permission. Check what kind of improvements you can make If youre unsure what type of improvements you can make – contact your council Find your local councilOpens new window The kind…

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Insuring your council home and its contents

Insuring your council home and its contents

Councils are not responsible for insuring council tenants furniture or possessions. If you are a council tenant and believe that the council is responsible for damage to you or your possessions you may be able to make an insurance claim. What the council insures The council insures its council dwellings and, thus, in the case of a fire that destroyed a property the council would claim on its insurance for the cost of repairing the…

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Introduction

Introduction

This guide will help you to classify toys, games and sports equipment correctly. These commodities are covered in Chapter 95 of the Tariff. This guide covers toys, games and sports equipment for children and adults, including: indoor and outdoor games toys and items for the amusement of children and/or adults equipment for sports, gymnastics, and athletics requisites for fishing, hunting and shooting See our detailed guide on classifying toys, games and sports equipment for more…

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Introduction to sex discrimination

Introductory council tenancies

Introductory council tenancies

Many councils offer what is termed an ‘ introductory tenancy’. This is a 12 month probationary tenancy after which tenants may become a secure tenant, provided they meet the conditions of their tenancy agreement. Are you an introductory tenant? You are probably an introductory tenant if your council runs an introductory tenancy scheme (not all councils do run such a scheme), and you satisfy all of the following conditions: the council has given you a…

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Key facts about the United Kingdom

Key facts about the United Kingdom

If you’re looking for key facts about the UK and its overseas territories, there are good sources of information available online and elsewhere. ‘UK’ or ‘Britain’? The full title of this country is ‘the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland': Great Britain is made up of England, Scotland and Wales the United Kingdom (UK)is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland ‘Britain’ is used informally, usually meaning the United Kingdom. The…

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Leasehold tenants – who is responsible for what

Leasehold tenants – who is responsible for what

If you are a leaseholder of a council property, the council retains responsibility for the land on which the property is built, and the main structural elements of the building. During the lease, the tenant is responsible for everything within the property walls. What is a lease? A lease is a private contract between the leaseholder and the landlord. The lease sets out the contractual obligations and rights of the two parties. Although many leases…

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Legal Ombudsman

Legal Ombudsman

The Legal Ombudsman was created under the Legal Service Act 2007 and set up by the Office for Legal Complaints. It began accepting complaints on 6 October 2010. The role of the Legal Ombudsman is to investigate and resolve complaints about the legal services provided by lawyers in England and Wales. The Legal Ombudsman is impartial and independent of the Government. Who can complain to the Legal Ombudsman? The Legal Ombudsman can accept complaints from…

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Local councillors

Local councillors

Local councils are run by elected councillors who are voted for by local people. Councillors are responsible for making decisions on behalf of the community about local services, for example rubbish collection and leisure facilities, and agreeing budgets and Council Tax charges. Representing the community Councillors are elected by the local community and are there to represent its views. Each councillor represents an area called a ward, serving for four years. There are more than…

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Local government elections

Local government elections

In a local election, you vote for the councillors who run your local services. Councillors are elected for a term of four years, though in some areas they’re not all elected at the same time, so elections may take place more often. Who can vote You can vote in local government elections if you have registered to vote and you are: a British citizen living in the UK a Commonwealth citizen living in the UK…

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Local government powers and finance

Local government powers and finance

Local authorities have a wide range of powers and duties. National policy is set by central government, but local councils are responsible for all day-to-day services and local matters. They are funded by government grants, Council Tax and business rates. Powers and duties Local authorities work within the powers laid down under various Acts of Parliament. Their functions are far-reaching. Some are mandatory, which means that the authority must do what is required by law….

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Local government structure

Local government structure

Across the country, local governmental bodies are organised into a mixture of one-tier and two-tier systems. How your local system is arranged will depend upon where you live. Find out more below. County and district councils In most of England, there are two levels: a county council and a district council. County councils cover large areas and provide most public services, including schools, social services, and public transportation. Each county is divided into several districts….

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Local surveys on graffiti, fly posting and litter

Local surveys on graffiti, fly posting and litter

Keep Britain Tidy is an environmental charity, that provides an independent survey of local environmental issues, like litter and graffiti, in every council area in England. Find out about the survey and how to check the environmental quality of the area you live in. What does the survey contain? Local government structure For information on what councils are and what they do, follow the link below Local government structure The survey, carried out between April…

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Making a complaint about a judicial office holder

Making a complaint about a judicial office holder

If you want to make a complaint about someone who holds a judicial office – a judge, a magistrate, a tribunal member or a coroner you can do this through the Office for Judicial Complaints (OJC). Complaints that the Office for Judicial Complaints deals with Office for Judicial Complaints Enquiry Line: 020 7189 2937 The OJCdeals with complaints about judicial office holders own personal conduct it does not deal with complaints about judicial decisions, or…

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Making a complaint against a private organisation

Making a complaint against a private organisation

Different industries can have different ways of dealing with complaints. Find out who to complain to about private companies, radio and television channels and advertising, and how to prevent unwanted emails, faxes and telephone calls. Industry ombudsmen Many industries have their own ombudsman scheme or other complaint-handling body. These provide independent and impartial means of resolving disputes outside the courts. Each ombudsman scheme operates under slightly different rules. In general though, an ombudsman will not…

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Making a complaint against a private organisation >> Seeking Redress

Making a complaint against a private organisation >> Seeking Redress

Different industries can have different ways of dealing with complaints. Find out who to complain to about private companies, radio and television channels and advertising, and how to prevent unwanted emails, faxes and telephone calls. Industry ombudsmen Many industries have their own ombudsman scheme or other complaint-handling body. These provide independent and impartial means of resolving disputes outside the courts. Each ombudsman scheme operates under slightly different rules. In general though, an ombudsman will not…

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Making a complaint against government or public bodies

Making a complaint against government or public bodies

If you want to complain about the behaviour of someone in government or a public body you need to contact the right people. There are organisations you can go to if you are unhappy with the way your complaint was handled. Government organisations and public bodies the Ombudsman deals with complaints about poor service, unfair treatment and administrative failures You can contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman about UK government services or the NHS…

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Making a complaint against government or public bodies >> Seeking Redress

Making a complaint against government or public bodies >> Seeking Redress

If you want to complain about the behaviour of someone in government or a public body you need to contact the right people. There are organisations you can go to if you are unhappy with the way your complaint was handled. Government organisations and public bodies the Ombudsman deals with complaints about poor service, unfair treatment and administrative failures You can contact the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman about UK government services or the NHS…

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Making a complaint to your childs school

Making a complaint to your childs school

If your child has a problem at school you should be able to sort it out through an informal discussion with your child’s teacher. If you can’t resolve a problem informally, the school should have a formal complaints procedure that you can follow. Contacting your child’s school If you’re worried about your child’s learning or welfare at school, your child’s class teacher or head of year is the best person to approach first. Teachers will…

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Making a planning application

Making a planning application

If you need planning permission for your building work, you can apply online through the Planning Portal to your local council. Find out how to apply, how much it costs and how long it takes. Check first if you need planning permission For many smaller building developments you don’t need planning permission Before applying for planning permission make sure you need it for your planned building work. A number of smaller building developments, e.g. many…

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Making an appeal against a planning decision

Making an appeal against a planning decision

Sometimes you may not get the decision you want on your planning application. If you feel that this is unfair or wrong, then you have the right to appeal. Appeals are handled by The Planning Inspectorate, which will take another look at your application. Discuss your application with your Local Planning Authority If the Local Planning Authority (LPA) turns down your planning application, you should look at the reasons why it was refused. Speak to…

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May I teach my child at home?

May I teach my child at home?

You do not usually need permission to teach your child at home. However, if your child is of compulsory school age and is registered at a school, you should first write to the school to ask it to remove your child’s name from the school roll. The school must then let the LA know of this within two school weeks. You need permission to take your child off the school roll only if they go…

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Mayors

Mayors

There are two types of mayor with different roles. Many local councils have a mayor for ceremonial duties, who is chosen by the councillors. A few councils have an elected mayor with the power to make decisions, who is chosen by the public. Ceremonial mayors Some districts have the ceremonial title of borough or city, granted by royal authority. Traditionally, their councillors choose a mayor (in Scotland a provost) to act as presiding officer and…

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MEPs who are they and what do they do?

MEPs who are they and what do they do?

MEP is an abbreviation used to refer to a Member of the European Parliament. The European Parliament derives from the European Community Treaty of 1957 and became a directly elected body of members in 1979. How are MEPs chosen? The European Parliament is currently the only directly elected institution in the European Community. By directly elected, we mean that in other institutions such as the European Council and European Commission, members are selected from different…

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Monarch vs. republic

Monarch vs. republic

A major and obvious difference between a monarchy and a republic is the way that the head of state is selected. In a republic , the head of state is generally elected; whilst a monarch gains power by virtue of hereditary succession. There are, however, some other, far more consequential differences between the two. Consider, for instance, the way sovereign power is allocated in each system, and also the ultimate source of that power. How…

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Moving back to the UK

Moving back to the UK

From enrolling your children into schools to sorting out your tax situation, here are some of the things you should think about when preparing to move back to the UK. Tax, benefits, pensions and National Insurance tell HM Revenue & Customs when you will be coming back, and find about your tax liability on returning to the UK check with the country you are living in about any tax you may owe before you leave…

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My child has difficulty learning and may need some more support in school. How do I ask for this?

My child has difficulty learning and may need some more support in school. How do I ask for this?

Find out what additional support your child can get at school. You should ask to speak to the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO), the teacher who arranges extra help. Explain why you are concerned and what you think might help. Schools should provide extra help for children with learning difficulties in whatever way meets their needs. This could mean using different teaching methods with your child, offering them the support of a teaching assistant or…

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My child is being bullied at school. What can I do?

My child is being bullied at school. What can I do?

Bullying occurs in schools and among young people and is a common cause of upset for children and worry and anxiety for their parents. Often bullying goes unreported, with victims suffering in silence and parents left baffled by their child’s withdrawn behaviour. Bullying can take many forms, but is most commonly perceived to be physical or psychological. Physical bullying might include fighting, hair pulling, pinching or kicking. Psychological bullying includes name-calling, teasing, spreading rumours or…

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My child is being excluded from school. What are our rights?

My child is being excluded from school. What are our rights?

How to deal with your child’s temporary or permanent exclusion from school. Your child may be excluded from school for a fixed number of days or permanently. The school must state in writing why they are excluding him or her. If the school hasn’t done so, contact them immediately and ask for the reasons. It is important to keep a copy of all correspondence with the school. If you disagree with the reasons for exclusion,…

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My child is being treated unfairly at school because of their disability. What can I do?

My child is being treated unfairly at school because of their disability. What can I do?

Find out your options if you think your child is being discriminated against at school. Schools must not discriminate against a child for a reason related to their disability unless they cannot reasonably avoid it. First check whether the unfair treatment is covered by disability discrimination law. The law applies to admissions, exclusions, education and associated services – so most aspects of education such as teaching and learning, school trips and breaks and lunchtimes are…

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My child is truanting. What are my responsibilties and rights?

My child is truanting. What are my responsibilties and rights?

What to do if your child is truanting from school. If your child is truanting, you must remember that it is your legal duty to try to ensure that they go to school. If you don’t try to make your children go to school then it is possible that you could be prosecuted. If your child is truanting, try to find out why. It may be that they are being bullied at school or they…

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My house is a listed building, what does that mean?

My house is a listed building, what does that mean?

If your house is included on a statutory list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest, compiled and managed by English Heritage, then it is classed as a ‘listed building’. This means that the property is legally protected, in order to preserve and safeguard it for future enjoyment. It means that any proposed alterations to the building must be considered in conjunction with the historical and architectural interest of the building before they are…

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National ceremonies and symbols

National ceremonies and symbols

The union flag, the national anthem, currency, stamps and other national events help identify and symbolise what it is to be British and to live in the United Kingdom. Flags The Union Flag, or ‘Union Jack’, is the national flag of the United Kingdom and is so called because it embodies the emblems of the three countries united under one Sovereign – the kingdoms of England and Wales, of Scotland and of Ireland (although since…

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Nato

Nato

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) is an alliance of 28 countries from Europe and North America, formed in 1949. Nato’s aim is to safeguard the freedom and security of its member countries, by political and military means. It now plays an important role in peacekeeping, crisis management and fighting terrorism. History of the North Atlantic Treaty After the Second World War, Europe found itself divided – physically and politically – with Eastern Europe controlled…

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Neighbourhood policing

Neighbourhood policing

Every neighbourhood is different – and so are the problems faced by the people who live there. Neighbourhood policing teams work directly with residents to find out what those crime and anti-social behaviour problems are and help get them resolved. You can get involved by attending their monthly meetings, or by contacting them to let them know about your concerns. Neighbourhood policing teams You can find your neighbourhood policing team by entering your postcode Police.co.uk…

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Neighbourhood Watch

Neighbourhood Watch

You can help police keep your community safe by joining Neighbourhood Watch and keeping an eye out for crime on your street. Find out how to get involved. What is Neighbourhood Watch? Neighbourhood Watch is made up of small groups of volunteer residents in towns and cities around the country. Members look out for signs of crime in their own neighbourhoods, and share that information with each other and local police. They follow basic rules…

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Overview of the UK system of government

Overview of the UK system of government

The United Kingdom is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional monarch. A king or queen is the head of state, and a prime minister is the head of government. The people vote in elections for Members of Parliament (MPs) to represent them. Constitution The United Kingdom doesn’t have a single, written constitution (a set of rules of government). But this doesn’t mean that the UK has an unwritten constitution. In fact, it is mostly written…

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Parking on council estates

Parking on council estates

Designated parking areas are provided on council housing estates. Find out what kind of vehicles can be parked in these areas. Rules and enforcement procedure may vary from council to council. Information on what vehicles can be parked in designated areas Tenants should not park any vehicle on the gardens of their property. Any vehicle (caravans, boats on trailers or commercial vehicles) apart from motor cars or motor bikes may not be parked in designated…

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Parliament

Parliament

The main functions of Parliament are to pass laws, to finance through taxation the work of government, to scrutinise government policy and administration, including proposals for expenditure, and to debate the major issues of the day. Parliament Parliament at Westminster in London can legislate for the UK as a whole and has powers to legislate for any parts of it separately. However, it will not normally legislate on devolved matters in Scotland and Northern Ireland…

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Passports for veterans

Passports for veterans

Veterans and others who were involved in the Second World War can get a free 10-year passport. They are available to all UK citizens who were born before 3 September 1929. For more information, call the UK Passport Adviceline (see ‘Further help’).

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Paying your council rent

Paying your council rent

It is important to keep up to date with rent payments and seek help as soon as you have problems. Find out how your council can help you pay your rent if you have difficulties. Payment methods There are a number of ways to pay your rent such as at a Post Office, by Direct Debit, by cheque, Switch or debit card. Your council may also provide other payment options. Direct Debit is an easy…

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Planning permission

Planning permission

Decisions on applications for planning and changes to land and building use are made by local planning authorities – usually the local council or National Park planning authority. They take into account: local development plans national policy guidance from the government material considerations such as size, layout, siting, design, external appearance, proposed means of access, landscaping, impact on the neighbourhood, and effects on roads, water and other services the need for an efficient and flexible…

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Planning permission – before you start work

Planning permission – before you start work

Whether or not you need to apply for planning permission, you should think about the following before you start work. Neighbours Let your neighbours know about work you intend to carry out to your property. They are likely to be as concerned about work which might affect them as you would be about changes which might affect your enjoyment of your own property. Even if what you want to do would be lawful from a…

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Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) codes of practice – an overview

Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) codes of practice – an overview

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) governs the way in which the police must act, ensures their powers are not used disproportionately, and protects and safeguards individuals that come into contact with the police. The police are entrusted with upholding the rule of law but it is important that the powers given to them to do this are not abused in any way. The role of PACE is to ensure the police have guidelines…

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Political parties

Political parties

The party system is based on political groups with their own policies, which compete for the support of the public to win power. In Parliament, the two parties with the most Members of Parliament (MPs) form the government and the opposition. About political parties A political party is an organised group of people who have similar ideas about how the country should be run. Their aim is to get their candidates elected to political power….

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Protecting your child from abuse at school

Protecting your child from abuse at school

Everyone in the education service plays a part in keeping children and young people safe. Creating a safe learning environment, identifying pupils who are suffering or at risk of harm and then taking appropriate action are vital to ensuring children are safe at home and at school. The role of the school in protecting your child from abuse Your child’s school should have a number of measures in place to help protect them, including: staff…

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Pupil health and safety

Pupil health and safety

Everyone in the education system must do what is sensible to keep pupils safe and healthy. This includes making the school environment as safe as possible. There are several sets of guidelines setting out the good practice that can help schools meet their responsibilities. Responsibility for health and safety Who has ultimate responsibility for pupil health and safety depends on the type of school your child goes to. The local authority draws up a health…

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Racial discrimination at school or college

Racial discrimination at school or college

It is against the law for a school or college to discriminate against or harass you or your child: in the terms on which it offers to admit your child; when deciding whether to exclude your child; or in the way your child is taught. The school or college must deal with any racial harassment or abuse by staff. It is also against the law for a local education authority to discriminate when assessing a…

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Racial discrimination at work

Racial discrimination at work

It is against the law for an employer to discriminate against you because of your race, when choosing someone for a job, and when deciding which staff will be: promoted; given benefits at work, such as training; disciplined; dismissed; or made redundant. It is against the law for an employer to discriminate in the following cases: When deciding who should be offered a job. This includes the job description, the ‘person specification’ (the description of…

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Racial discrimination when buying goods or services

Racial discrimination when buying goods or services

It is against the law for businesses or service providers to racially discriminate against or harass you by: refusing or deliberately failing to provide you with ‘goods, facilities or services'; or not providing goods, facilities or services of the same quality, on the same terms and in the same way as they would to other people. It covers things that are free, as well as those you pay for. It covers many businesses and services,…

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Racial discrimination when renting or buying a house or flat

Racial discrimination when renting or buying a house or flat

It is against the law for an estate agent or landlord to discriminate against you or harass you when they are selling or letting property. So, for example, an estate agent could not refuse to show you a property because of your colour, nor could a landlord refuse to let a house to a black family for the same reason. It is also against the law for landlords to discriminate racially in the way they…

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Racial harassment at work

Racial harassment at work

It is against the law for your employer or a colleague to racially harass you. If the person harassing you does not stop after you have asked them to, you should complain to your employer. Many employers treat racial harassment by their staff as a disciplinary offence, and they should discipline the person harassing you. If your employer does not do anything or does not do enough to prevent it, you can take a claim…

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Reasonable force or police brutality?

Reasonable force or police brutality?

In common with all citizens, the police may use reasonable force where necessary for self-defence, defence of another, defence of property, the prevention of a crime, or during a lawful arrest. Under Section 117 Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE), the police are also empowered to use ‘reasonable force’ if necessary when exercising the powers conferred to them under that act (except those which require someone other than a police officer’s consent). What constitutes…

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Register your interest in identity cards and the National Identity Service

Register your interest in identity cards and the National Identity Service

The government has announced its plans to scrap identity cards for British citizens by August 2010. Under the terms of the Identity Documents Act 2010, identity cards ceased to be legal documents on 21 January 2011. The Government introduced the Identity Documents Act 2010 which received royal assent on 21 December 2010. The act brings into law: the cancellation of the UK national identity card the identification card for EEA nationals the provision for the…

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Registering for a council property

Registering for a council property

Each local authority will have different criteria for entry to its housing register. Find out how you can apply for a council property. Apply to join the housing register You can apply to join a council’s housing register, even if you do not live in the area. However, councils are allowed to give people who already live in the area priority so contact the housing department of the relevant council. The following links will let…

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Renting a council garage

Renting a council garage

If you wish to apply to rent a council garage, your local council may be able to help. Priority is usually given to existing council tenants. Find out more information about renting a council garage below. Applying for a council garage You need to contact your local council and ask for a garage application form. Once this form has been completed and returned, you are added to the waiting list and told when your turn…

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Repairs and maintenance – council houses

Repairs and maintenance – council houses

If you live in a council house your council is responsible for certain types of maintenance and repairs to your home and building or estate. Find out how to request repairs, how long they should take, what your responsibilities are and how to complain about your council. Repairs and your responsibilities as a tenant Your council is not responsible for all repairs and maintenance. Youre likely to be responsible for things like: fixing a curtain…

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Repairs and maintenance – council houses >> Council Housing

Repairs and maintenance – council houses >> Council Housing

If you live in a council house your council is responsible for certain types of maintenance and repairs to your home and building or estate. Find out how to request repairs, how long they should take, what your responsibilities are and how to complain about your council. Repairs and your responsibilities as a tenant Your council is not responsible for all repairs and maintenance. Youre likely to be responsible for things like: fixing a curtain…

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Reporting a planning breach

Reporting a planning breach

If you believe a development has breached a planning control you can contact your local planning authority. What is a planning breach? A planning breach usually occurs when: a development that requires planning permission is undertaken without the permission being granted – either because the planning application was refused or was never applied for a development that has been given permission subject to conditions breaks one or more of those conditions A planning breach in…

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Reporting abandoned vehicles

Reporting abandoned vehicles

Local councils are responsible for the removal of abandoned vehicles, whether on private land or the public highway. However, the procedure for this may vary from council to council. Also, find out how you can safely and legally dispose of your vehicle when you no longer need it. What to do if you think a vehicle has been abandoned Report an abandoned vehicle If a vehicle has been abandoned, report it to your council Report…

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Reporting anti-social behaviour

Reporting anti-social behaviour

If youre faced with noisy neighbours, or youve seen someone littering, drawing graffiti, or committing other acts of anti-social behaviour, you shouldnt suffer in silence. Find out how to let the police and other authorities know. Tell someone what’s happening The first step is to speak to members of your local neighbourhood policing team. Those teams work closely with residents to help stop anti-social behaviour, so they need to know what’s happening in your area….

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Reporting problems with street names and numbering

Reporting problems with street names and numbering

Addresses are important as they give police, emergency services, and the general public a way of locating and referencing properties. Your council is the local street naming and numbering authority. Find out how to rename a street or report street naming problems in your area. Renaming and renumbering streets Sometimes it is necessary to rename or renumber a street. This is usually only done as a last resort when: there is confusion over a street’s…

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Rights and obligations contacts

Rights and obligations contacts

There is a range of organisations and charities that offer advice and information on rights and obligations. Advicenow Advicenow brings together the best information on the law and your rights from a wide range of advice and information services. Advicenow Citizens Advice Bureau Free, confidential, impartialand independent advice on debtand consumer issues, benefits, housing, legal matters, employmentand immigration. Advisers can help fill out forms, write letters, negotiate with creditors and represent clients at court or…

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School attendance, absence and your child

School attendance, absence and your child

Regular school attendance is an important part of giving your child the best possible start in life. Talking to your child and their teachers could help to solve any difficulties you have in getting your child to go to school – and there are other forms of support available if you still have problems. Regular school attendance – why it’s so important Going to school regularly is important to your childs future. For example, children…

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School discipline and exclusions

School discipline and exclusions

Your child’s school should have a written policy setting out the standards of behaviour it expects. The policy should outline what the school will do if your child’s behaviour falls below these standards. Promoting good behaviour All pupils in a school benefit when behaviour is good. High standards of behaviour are important in helping children to feel safe and learn well, and parents and carers play a key part in this. The government advises schools…

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Secure council tenancies

Secure council tenancies

Where councils operate an introductory tenancy scheme you will automatically become a secure tenant after 12 months, provided you don’t breach the conditions of your tenancy. Your rights as a secure tenant As a secure tenant you have the right , subject to meeting any applicable criteria or gaining the requisite approval to: live in your home for the rest of your life as long as you continue to comply with the requirements of your…

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Serving as a juror

Serving as a juror

Around 200,000 people perform jury service each year all of them selected entirely at random from the electoral register to perform this important role. Knowing what to expect should help you feel confident if you are called as a juror. You can watch an online video to see what will happen. The selection and purpose of a jury Juries are used because it is recognised that a panel of ordinary people, chosen at random, is…

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Setting rents for council housing

Setting rents for council housing

Each council is responsible for setting the level of rent that it charges its tenants. Find out how your council sets the rent it charges what is included, where the money goes and how to challenge rent increases. How your rent is set Housing associations and councils charge similar levels of rent for properties of a similar size, condition and location, regardless of landlord. The level of the rent is determined by how much your…

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Should the right to vote be extended to under-18s?

Should the right to vote be extended to under-18s?

For several years, the question of whether the voting age in the UK should be lowered has been debated, yet it remains at 18. In 2004, the Electoral Commission (following a 12-month review on the subject of voting and candidacy ages) recommended that the voting age remained at 18. Both the Labour and Conservative parties followed the Commission’s lead by subsequently ruling out a change. Why should the right to vote be extended? It has…

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