UEL sets up online business and law advice centres to handle Covid-19 challenges
Free clinics help with community and business concerns
The University of East London has established two online advice clinics to deal with issues that have been aggravated by the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
The Legal Advice Centre and the Tax and Accountancy Clinic, both run by the Royal Docks School of Business and Law at the University of East London, aim to give free advice to the East London community.
Legal Advice Centre
After halting face-to-face appointments because of social distancing measures, the Legal Advice Centre has moved online. It concentrates on:
- Landlord and tenant advice, including the rights of tenants unable to pay their rent.
- Welfare benefits, including claiming statutory sick pay.
- Family law, including Child Arrangement Orders and domestic abuse.
Director of the Legal Advice Centre and senior law lecturer Eleanor Scarlett said, “The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown has created a huge amount of tension and concern. People are worried about their homes, income and domestic arrangements – all have been affected.
“Our service aims to give people the information they need to make the right decisions under pressure and give them a greater sense of control over their personal circumstances.”
The Legal Advice Centre normally holds fortnightly sessions between October and April.
Tax and Accountancy Clinic
The lockdown has hampered the ability of many businesses to earn income, pushing some to the brink of insolvency. However, there are a number of government-run schemes aimed at helping small and medium-sized businesses through the crises.
Specialists advisers are on hand at the newly-established online Tax and Accountancy Clinic to help businesses with applications for grants and loans, including the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the Small Business Grant Scheme as well as other aspects of finance including deferment of VAT payments.
Dr Shampa Roy-Mukherjeet, director of impact and innovation at the Royal Docks School of Business and Law, said, “These are hugely uncertain times for small businesses within our community, with the pandemic and lockdown bringing many aspects of commercial activity to a halt. The good news is that businesses are not on their own – there is help available.
“Our tax and accountancy clinic can help facilitate short-term financial aid and we hope people will seek out our services. We’re pleased we are able to play our part in seeing our business community through this difficult period.”
How to access the services
In order to access legal advice, clients should complete an online form. They will then receive a phone call confirming if the centre can help. If the client agrees, supervising solicitors will then discuss the issue for about 30 minutes. This will be followed up by a letter of advice. More details are available here.
Dr Mohammad Ali, Dean of the Royal Docks School of Business & Law, said, “These two free clinics serve the very real and pressing needs of our local community and underscore the University’s mission to offer practical help as East London journeys out of Covid-19 and heads towards better times.”