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2 December 2019

The Unlawful State and how civil society is using the law to tackle it

openDemocracy has launched a new investigative series looking at how public authorities are making unlawful decisions across our public services - and how civil society can use the law to help people affected.
Strengthening Civil Society

OpenJustice – part of OpenDemocracy – has just launched a new series called The Unlawful State which examines how public bodies (local and central) are failing to make decisions on entitlements and rights in line with the law.

Over the next few months, The Unlawful State will reveal examples from social care to welfare to citizenship and immigration and also highlights how civil society is in return using the law to address the problem and help the people they work with.

The first story in the series is about failure to properly assess support needs in adult social care. It is accompanied by a podcast in which Kari Gerstheimer (Director of Information & Advice at Mencap) explains how Mencap’s Legal Network is using the law to help people with learning disabilities obtain the support they need.

The second story features Project 17, a small organisation which uses Section 17 of the Children’s Act 1989 to secure basic entitlements for children whose mothers don’t have recourse to public funds and are growing up in exceptional poverty. There’s also a podcast which explains how Project 17 use the law to advocate to local authorities for these families.

The third explores why children born in Britain are having to pay £1,012 to apply for citizenship they have a right to and a recent successful case taken to the High Court by Project for the Registration of Children as British Citizens (PRCBC) supported by Amnesty. Lawyer, Steve Valdez-Symonds, who volunteers at PRCBC, explains the case and the approach they’ve taken in a podcast as well.

The series is supported by a grant from the Foundation.

Photo courtesy of Mencap. All rights reserved.