Tips on writing Evidence Forms
Why should I do an EF?
How often do you finish an advice session feeling frustrated and angry because your client has been so appallingly treated, you have so much to do to put things right and you can see that the same problems will recur with other clients because of basic flaws in procedures or systems? Even if you are pressed for time it is worth spending a few minutes describing what has gone wrong, its impact on your client and any ideas you have about what should change. Not every EF will lead to a campaign but EFs are an important way of drawing attention to issues that need to be followed up either nationally or locally or both.
How should I do an EF?
When you are doing your Casebook record before you start the EF
Decide if your client has faced a problem that calls for an EF and identify the main issue that you want to highlight. If in doubt consult your ASS. If at all possible do the EF on the same day that you complete the case record while the problem is fresh in your mind.
Doing the EF
What is the problem?
It is helpful to summarise the problem in the first sentence if you can; BUT please go on to explain the circumstances in as much detail as you can- you have an upper limit of 1000 characters. You will often be able to copy and paste relevant text from your case record. If there is more than one issue that has contributed to the problem try to identify all the relevant issues.
This is just a headline- three or four words. If it is an EF that you are doing in response to a national call for evidence you will have been given the key phrase to use.
What is the impact of the problem?
Explain how the issue that you have raised has affected your client and/or is likely to affect your client. Again you have an upper limit of 1000 characters and may be able to paste relevant text from your case record. If your client has not been badly affected but other people in a similar situation will be make this clear. Please do NOT answer this question by explaining what the problem is- you should have done this already in answering “ What is the problem?”.
Is it an emerging issue?
This is often hard to judge. The answer is usually “no” unless you have evidence that other clients have encountered the same problem recently. Anyway you don’t have to answer this question.
Which AIC is most relevant?
You now have a lot of flexibility for selecting the most appropriate AIC for the issue that you have highlighted. You can choose one or more of the AICs already listed in the case record or you can add new AICs to identify the specific issue raised in the EF as long as you do not select more than three AICs altogether; BUT there are no prizes for choosing three AICs- normally one or two will be sufficient. It is only where a problem genuinely raises directly connected issues that more than one AIC should be recorded.
For example if a private landlord has taken action to evict a client for rent arrears due to the DWP’s failure to pay the housing element of UC there could be two relevant AICs :
DEBt-rent arrears-private landlords- possession claim for rent arrears (DEB08D) and
Universal Credit-Housing element-poor administration (BUC03B)
If as a result of the DWP’s failure to pay the housing element of UC the client was in desperate straits financially and had to apply for food bank vouchers there might be an AIC in the case record for Other- Food Banks- Trussel Trust (OTH08A). This would certainly be something to mention in describing the impact of the problem; but it does not define the issue being raised in the EF and so should not be added as a third AIC. However if you wanted to highlight how poor administration of UC leads to clients having to rely on food banks you should do a separate EF linking these two issues.
Is this a local or national issue?
Decide whether putting the problem right requires action locally or nationally.
IF YOU HAVE VERY LITTLE TIME TO DO AN EF
Do the best you can in the time. It is much easier to do an EF while the problem is red hot in your mind. The R&C team will check your EF and make changes if necessary. Don’t miss the chance to expose a problem or injustice that needs to be addressed.