Kirklees Citizens Advice & Law Centre
Housing Solicitor/Legal Executive
£26,000.00 to £29,000 pa (depending on experience) + excellent benefits
Hours of work; 37 hours per week or part-time by mutual agreement
Maternity cover until 01 January 2022 (with the possibility of extension or a permanent role subject to funding).
Closing date: Monday 23 November 2020 at 12.00 pm
Interviews: Monday 30 November 2020.
We are looking for a housing solicitor or legal executive to join our housing team and make a difference. The successful candidate will become part of a friendly and supportive team dedicated to advancing our clients’ housing rights.
The role is currently based from home whilst our service is provided to clients remotely. The housing team ordinarily works from our office in Dewsbury with travel required between our Huddersfield office and outreach service in Halifax. The position is likely to remain largely home-based subject to an ongoing review of working arrangements post-Covid.
Kirklees Citizens’ Advice & Law Centre values diversity, promotes equality and challenges discrimination and strives to be an Equal Opportunities employer. We encourage and welcome applications from people of all backgrounds.
To find out more about the role and the benefits of working for us please visit our website on the link below.
Job Description: Housing Caseworker
Responsible to : Head of Casework and Support Services
Hours of Work : 5 days a week (35 hours)
Salary : starting £29,577 per annum
Holidays : 28 days plus bank holidays
Location : Victoria (+ remote working as necessary)
Duration : 12 months fixed term, with possibility of extension
About Zacchaeus 2000 Trust
Z2K (also known as Zacchaeus 2000 Trust) is an anti-poverty charity which combines direct casework and representation for Londoners experiencing, or at risk of, poverty with national campaigning for social security and housing systems that work for all. This integrated model enables us to directly help thousands access justice whilst also pursuing transformative change for hundreds of thousands nationally. We specialise in social security, housing and homelessness, using evidence from our casework to influence policy and practice.
We take a holistic approach to casework, helping clients to address multiple complications relating to their income, debts and other challenges such as access to support services. We work with our clients on average over nine-months. Z2K’s projects include welfare benefits and housing advice casework; a private rented sector access and support scheme, through which we support tenants into long term housing solutions; and a specialist tribunal service to represent welfare benefits clients; wrap-around support providing workshops and one to one support on matters such as wellbeing, addictions, loneliness and financial literacy. In 2019 the casework team recovered £3m in entitled benefits and support for our clients.
We offer a range of employee benefits, including generous annual leave, a matched pension contribution up to 5% of salary, a free employee assistance programme providing a range of services and support, and training and development opportunities to continue your professional development.
About the role
The post-holder will provide specialist advice and casework support for low-income Londoners on a range of housing and related welfare benefits issues, in order to prevent and alleviate homelessness and address housing problems. Issues may include negative decisions in relation to homelessness and suitability reviews; rent arrears; possession proceedings; disrepair; housing benefit and universal credit; council tax support. Where appropriate, you will carry out preliminary work prior to cases being referred to a legal aid solicitor. You will manage your own caseload and will advise and support volunteers who are not specialists in this area as well as provide support to other caseworkers to increase their competency and skills on housing issues. You will work closely with the Policy and Campaigns team, identifying and highlighting social policy issues to inform our policy influencing and campaigning. You will be supported by a highly skilled Head of Casework who has developed policies and a casework database system that enable all caseworkers to handle a fast moving but manageable caseload.
We are looking for an experienced and proactive individual with in-depth knowledge and experience of providing housing advice and casework that meets quality standards and achieves performance targets. You will have gained a minimum of 2 years’ experience of housing advice and casework through paid or other voluntary experience. You will demonstrate excellent communication and interpersonal skills, have a commitment to working with communities who are highly disadvantaged and a passion for helping people to overcome homelessness and poverty. You will have the ability to interview, advise, and work with service users empathetically, and have a willingness to try new tasks and support the wider team with policy work and online communication such as blogs and tweets. From time to time you may be asked to work outside of usual working hours.
Advice, Casework and Representation
- Provide, under the supervision of the Head of Casework, efficient and effective specialist advice and casework on the full range of Housing issues, that meets funder requirements, quality standards and achieves performance targets
- Recognise the welfare benefits implications in housing cases and ensure clients receive their appropriate benefitentitlement
- Adopt a flexible approach towards casework, progressing casework through negotiations with third parties including local authorities, housing associations and private landlords
- Provide representation and/or advocacy on behalf of clients in formal settings
- Manage a varied caseload and ability to work independently at outreach locations
- Ensure casework is completed and cases closed in a timely manner
- Liaise and network with other agencies and solicitors and make appropriate referrals to legal aid suppliers when required.
- Support the casework team to deliver housing casework activities
- Administration and IT
- Maintain detailed case records using designated IT systems, for the purpose of continuity of casework, information retrieval, statistical monitoring and report preparation
- Provide statistical information as requested for reporting purposes on the number of clients and nature of cases
- Ensure all sensitive data is adequately protected and handled in accordance with the organisation’s confidentiality systems and procedures; and in line with data protection
- Ensure that all work conforms to the organisation’s systems and
- Policy and Campaigns
- Assist policy and campaigns work by identifying and highlighting social policy issues faced by clients
- Provide qualitative and quantitative data on cases (e.g. case studies, casework statistics)
- Working with Others and Communications
- Willingness to work in a way that contributes to a positive working environment for all staff and volunteers
- Develop and maintain good working relationships with the team, sharing information and making a positivecontribution; Attend and contribute to regular casework and whole team meetings
- Ability to work in an anti-oppressive, non-discriminatory and empowering way with people from a range of backgrounds and experiences, including people experiencing and at risk of poverty, diaspora communities, and disabled and vulnerable groups
- Develop and maintain good working relationships with other relevant statutory and voluntary service providers and other external stakeholders
- Promote the work of Z2K locally and nationally as required
- Contribute towards the training of volunteers and the wider team
- Prepare written reports, blogs and case studies and deliver presentations to key stakeholders as required
- Commitment to Policies
- The postholder shall at all times have due regard for the aims, principles and polices of Z2K, positively promote the same; protecting the integrity and reputation of the service in the planning and execution of their
- Willingness to abide by the Health and Safety guidelines of the organisation, having due regard for your own health and safety, and the health and safety of others
- An understanding of an adherence to equality legislation, in line with Z2K’s internal policies
- Professional Development
- Keep informed of new and changing legislation relevant to the post, and of local issues and policies
- Attend regular training to develop knowledge, skills and expertise
- Be able to identify own training needs through feedback and self-assessment, and discuss same with line manager, taking responsibility for own development
- Attend and contribute to support and supervision and appraisal meetings with the line manager, to further own
- Willingness to take a flexible and adaptable approach to service delivery, including working outside of normal office hours on occasion, with prior notification. The staff TOIL policy will apply
- Willingness to work at the Z2K office, remotely or at outreach venues as required
- Willingness to carry out all other relevant tasks as required
- A minimum of 2 years’ experience of providing good quality specialist housing advice, casework and representation on the full range of housing matters
- Demonstrable knowledge and understanding of housing law, regulations and guidance
- An understanding of the implications of welfare benefits issues in housing cases, and experience of giving generalist advice in these subjects
- An ordered approach to casework and an ability and willingness to follow and develop agreed organisational procedures
- An understanding of working within an efficient case management system to provide effective advice and casework that achieves positive outcomes for clients
- A disciplined approach to record keeping and data protection and an understanding of the need to monitor the experience of clients and the difference our service makes
- Ability to use own initiative, prioritise workload and manage time, resources and own cases effectively
- Excellent verbal and written communication skills, including the ability to draft written submissions, negotiate face-to-face or on the telephone with third parties, and when advocating and/or representing clients in formal settings
- Good interpersonal skills and the ability to relate to a wide cross section of people, including the ability to deal with potentially difficult or stressful situations, whilst maintaining a professional approach.
- Good working knowledge of IT packages, and the ability to use IT to maintain databases, record cases and outcomes, and write reports
- Reasonable numeracy skills required to understand statistics and produce data
- Ability and willingness to work well within a team, sharing information, contributing positively whilst being able to challenge sensitively and receive constructive feedback.
- Ability to build effective relationships and work in close partnership with external agencies and effectively liaise with a range of service providers or agencies
- A flexible approach to service delivery, including a willingness to work outside normal office hours if required; A positive and adaptable approach to a changing environment.
- Willingness to challenge oneself; identifying one’s own learning and development and taking responsibility for identifying own training needs.
- Interest/experience in broader strategic litigation
- Law degree or other legal qualification
- Experience of managing volunteers
- Experience of delivering advice at drop in surgeries
- A genuine commitment to equal opportunities; clear understanding of, and commitment to, Z2K’s Equality & Diversity policies, and the ability to incorporate these into all aspects of your work
- A commitment to working in and contributing to the ethos of an anti-poverty charity.
- A commitment to supporting colleagues and working as a team.
Closing Date: 16th November 2020 at noon
Interview & Assessment Date: Week commencing the 30th November 2020