Project information

Cardiff Benefit Appeals Service (C-BAS)

When people are incorrectly denied disability benefits it results in worsening health, financial hardship, loss of independence and damage to family wellbeing. We help vulnerable people to overcome these issues and use our legal expertise to help them challenge unfair and incorrect DWP decisions.

January 2018 - January 2019

Charity information: The Speakeasy

The Speakeasy
  • Need


    Personal independence payments and employment and support allowance help with the extra costs of long-term sickness and disability. Around half the people who make a claim are turned down but appealing this decision takes several months, during which families must survive on a significantly reduced income. The appeal process is a daunting combination of forms and hearings, but there is almost no support available. We often hear stories of loan sharks, foodbanks, isolation and eviction notices.


    We will give advice and representation to fight injustice and practical support to help people deal with crises and avoid future problems. Our drop-in clinics will provide specialist benefits advice to improve financial stability, support to manage household bills, protection against eviction and help to clear debt and improve budgeting skills. Our specialist solicitor will represent people throughout their appeal to ensure their rights are upheld, including attending tribunal hearings.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Help 140 people successfully challenge unfair and incorrect benefit decisions


    » Weekly drop-in advice clinic open to anyone experiencing difficulties with a welfare benefit claim
    » Specialist casework, including gathering of medical evidence, preparation of written submissions and representation at tribunal court

    What success will look like

    More than 80% of the benefit appeals we undertake will be successful, with an average annual income increase of more than £4,000 per person

    Aim 2

    Help 140 people to live on low incomes during their appeal process


    » Provide budgeting tools and specialist advice to help clear personal debt, including Debt Relief Orders and Bankruptcy where appropriate
    » Support to manage gas, electricity and water bills and grants to clear arrears, including negotiating with suppliers and access to social discounts
    » Provide specialist housing advice to resolve tenancy issues including liaising with landlords, helping to prevent eviction and avoid homelessness
    » Referrals for further help including food parcels, furniture, white goods,prepay credit for energy, counselling for pregnancy crisis and addiction

    What success will look like

    90% of the people we help will say they feel less stressed and more able to avoid future problems as a result of our help

  • Impact


    We will empower people to exercise their legal right to social security. People will be made aware of their rights and be given the skills and confidence to exercise those rights, overcoming future problems without reliance on us.

    We will demonstrate our success by monitoring the number of people who return to us for further help in the 3 years following the project. Success will be less than 10% of people coming back for further help with a problem related to their benefit claim.


    There is a risk that people will become dependent on our help. We will mitigate this as far as possible by enabling beneficiaries to understand their situation and encouraging them to take action themselves, with our support. Our team are highly experienced in helping vulnerable people and employ a number of tactics to prevent over-reliance on our service.


    We will produce a quarterly report detailing the numbers of people we have helped, including financial outcomes and anecdotal evidence of the long-term impact of our work.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £39,449

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £28,805 Salary Specialist benefits solicitor, 35hrs p/w
      £4,298 Supervision Centre Director, 0.5 days per week
      £2,466 Project Management Monitoring & evaluation, communication with donors, etc.
      £1,735 Central office costs inc. IT, stationery, supplies, postage, telephony, etc.
      £1,415 Building costs inc. heat, light, security, rates, etc.
      £518 Professional costs inc. practising certificates, insurances and licenses
      £212 Staff costs inc. welfare and training
  • Background


    23% of Welsh households live in poverty, higher than any other UK country. In east Cardiff, where the majority of our beneficiaries live, this figure rises as high as 46%. 45% of people have no qualifications and 8.4% are unable to work due to long-term sickness or disability (3.8% more than in England and Wales). More than two-fifths of people live in areas ranked in the 10% most deprived in Wales, prompting the Welsh Government to establish two Communities First areas in 2012.


    We will primarily benefit people from low income households and those experiencing long-term and terminal illness and/or disability.

    We will also indirectly benefit the families of beneficiaries by increasing household income and strengthening budgeting skills to ensure priority costs, like food and utilities, are met.

    Finally, we will benefit carers, as a successful disability benefit claim often gives access to further support such as carers allowance or a mobility vehicle.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We are the only charity in Cardiff with a range of services broad enough to provide a truly holistic approach to peoples' situations and have almost 25 years' experience in doing so. The current success rate for ESA appeals is 62%, last year we achieved 84%. We employ a stable and committed team and have a proven track record of good governance and financial stability. We have previously worked with major funders to provide innovative services which directly tackle poverty.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Niala Tabbasm

    With 10 years' experience in welfare benefit law, Niala will ensure that we meet our aim of 80% of appeals being successful.

    Volunteer TBC

    Determining what support beneficiaries need during their appeal process, and connecting them with other Speakeasy staff to meet those needs.

    Simon Brown

    Simon will monitor and evaluate the project, communicating with donors and gathering evidence to support future funding.

    Warren Palmer

    Warren will supervise Niala's casework to ensure beneficiaries receive the best possible service and outcomes.