ANOTHER new job vacancy on GMWRAG.

GMWRAG has barely drawn breath from our visit to Stockport on Friday when we’ve been asked to post details of yet another job vacancy. Details will be posted on our job vacancies page until the expiry of the closing date (please note that it’s not a midnight one!) and thereafter you’ll be able to find details within our archive.

Advice Service Manager 

Salary: £15,570 per annum

Hours: 21.75 hours (3 days)

Pension: 6%

Citizens Advice SalfordCitizens Advice Salford are looking for a dynamic individual to join our team of Advice Service Managers.

The role primarily involves supervising advice sessions whilst maintaining quality of advice.

We have a number of bureaux across the City of Salford and also offer advice in a number of outreach environments. We deliver advice via face to face, email and telephone and are proud of our history of maintaining high quality services.

We also have a number of specialist projects which support our high street bureaux.

You must have at least one year’s recent experience of supervising generalist advice sessions within an advice agency.

You will need to be comfortable working with a wide range of people and be prepared to go the extra mile for those most in need of our assistance.

Closing date: the 5th of  July 2017 at 9:00am

Interview dates: the 11th and 12th of July 2017

Salford Citizens Advice Bureaux are working to achieve equal opportunities.

The person specification and job description are available for download here.

For applications please email Maria on cwu1@salfordcab.cabnet.org.uk

Job vacancy in Rochdale.

It’s been a while since GMWRAG has had cause to think of Rochdale and welfare rights advice in the same sentence so we’re pleased to be able to advertise the following vacancy.

The Bond Board logoWelfare Rights Worker – The Bond Board Ltd, Rochdale

We have funding to deliver additional services to work with people who have experienced homelessness and are now living in the private rented sector in Rochdale.

An exciting opportunity has arisen for a:

Welfare Rights Worker, 37hrs, £24,964 per annum

  • The successful candidate will set up and solely deliver a comprehensive Welfare Rights Service for socially excluded homeless and Private Rented Sector tenants.

We are seeking individuals who have determination and are passionate about improving the lives of people affected by homelessness.

In return we can offer you:

  • 27 days annual leave which increases over time (pro-rata for part time staff), plus paid bank holidays,
  • family friendly policies and
  • flexible working hours. We pride ourselves in being an innovative organisation, where every team member is valued and has the ability to influence the development of our services.

“I enjoy being trusted to manage my own workload, being involved in developing the service and the support and opportunities there are to develop my career,” Bond Board Employee, 2016.

Application forms and full details are available to download from our web-site:

www.thebondboard.org.uk/about-us/vacancies/

The closing date for completed application forms is Friday 7th July 2017 at 3pm.

The Bond Board is an Equal Opportunities employer and we welcome applications from the whole community.

Registered Charity Number: 1040176

These details can of course be found permanently within our job vacancies pages.

New Salford job vacancies on GMWRAG.

GMWRAG is pleased to announce the first of a number job vacancies we will be posting this week. First up a couple of vacancies from Salford City Councils Welfare Rights and Debt Advice Service. Unusually the emphasis is on debt advice.

Details of the posts are on our job vacancies pages and are already up on Rightsnet and Greater Jobs and details of how to apply are on both sites and below. In the meantime, anyone wanting to know more about the posts can email Steve Quinn or ring him on 0161 793 3295.

Salford City Council logo

 

 

HEALTH and SOCIAL CARE

Welfare Rights & Debt Advice Service

DEBT ADVISER (Early Help)

Scale: 3B £25,694 – £28,203

Ref: 50163553

This post is primarily to provide debt advice, benefits advice, budgeting advice to vulnerable families identified by Children’s Services.

The job involves providing accessible and high quality debt advice to people in the City focusing on vulnerable families as part of an integrated ‘early help’ offer to families in Salford. This would include undertaking individual case-work, income maximisation and outlining potential strategies for dealing with clients’ debts, and preparing cases for court where necessary. Keeping abreast of developments in credit and debt recovery case law will be important and the post will also involve providing training and acting as a consultant to front-line staff.

You should have proven experience and expertise in debt advice for at least two years. Being able to act as an advocate on behalf of claimants is essential. You should be able to work on your own as well as part of a team, and be committed to the promotion of anti-poverty & social inclusion work.

The post carries an entitlement to a casual car user’s allowance.

Closing date: Friday 23rd June 2017  

You can apply via Greater Jobs.

____________________________________________

Salford City Council logo

 

 

HEALTH and SOCIAL CARE

Welfare Rights & Debt Advice Service

DEBT ADVISER (Tenancy Sustainment)

Temporary – 12 months

Scale: 3B £25,694 – £28,203

Ref: 50161459

This post is primarily to provide debt advice, benefits advice, budgeting advice to those affected by the ‘Benefit Cap’.

The job involves providing accessible and high quality debt advice to people in the City focusing on those affected by the ‘Benefit Cap’ who are tenants of social landlords. This would include undertaking individual case-work, income maximisation and offering practical assistance in retaining accommodation eg. applying for Discretionary Housing Payments and preparing cases for court where necessary. Keeping abreast of developments in credit and debt recovery case law will be important and the post will also involve providing training and acting as a consultant to front-line staff.

You should have proven experience and expertise in debt advice for at least two years. Being able to act as an advocate on behalf of claimants is essential. You should be able to work on your own as well as part of a team, and be committed to the promotion of anti-poverty & social inclusion work.

The post carries an entitlement to a casual car user’s allowance.

Closing date: Friday 23rd June 2017  

You can apply via Greater Jobs.

Benefit sanctions and the rule of law.

Nicely linking in with the recent go live on our Greater Manchester Strategic Casework Group pages, and the update we’ll be providing at the Stockport GMWRAG meeting next Friday about our plans to push public law remedies, we are pleased to note that the following course is taking place in Manchester. Whilst this event is specifically aimed at tackling benefit sanctions the ideas discussed will have applicability across the board on social security.

Events: Public Law and Judicial Review North: Benefit Sanctions and the Rule of Law

Location: Manchester

Address: BPP LAW SCHOOL, ST JAMES’S BUILDING OXFORD STREET MANCHESTER M1 6FQ

Start date: July 20 2017

A conference on the impact and potential responses to sanctioning and other public law issues for advisers, advocates, lawyers,campaigning organisations, NGO’s and legal services in public bodies

BOOK NOW

PDF PROGRAMME 9.30 ARRIVAL AND REGISTRATION 10.00 INTRODUCTION Alison Pickup, Legal Director, Public Law Project 10.05 BENEFIT SANCTIONS AND THE RULE OF LAW Michael Adler, Emeritus Professor of Socio-Legal Studies, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh 10.35 HOW THE FIRST TIER TRIBUNAL (FTT) DEALS WITH SANCTIONS FOLLOWING ‘REILLY’ Stewart Wright, Judge of the Upper Tribunal 11.05 BREAK 11.20 RESEARCH ON THE IMPACT OF BENEFIT SANCTIONS Richard Crellin, Policy Officer, The Children’s Society 11.40 TOP PUBLIC LAW CASES OF THE YEAR Matt Stanbury, Garden Court North Chambers & Alastair Wallace, Irwin Mitchell 12.20: MORNING BREAKOUT SESSIONS CHOOSE ONE OF THREE BELOW

  1. Public law remedies and sanctioning Sanctions can have a very serious and long-lasting effect on claimants’ lives, but challenging them is frequently difficult and time consuming. Come to this session and learn how to: – write a complaint letter which gets results; – speed up appeals; – spot and fund test case litigation; – use judicial review in urgent cases; – win damages for discriminatory treatment Tom Royston, Garden Court North & Katy Watts, Public Law Project 2. Public law workshop Open discussion about how to challenge recurrent themes and systemic problems faced by clients and service users dealing with public bodies. Alison Pickup, Public Law Project 3. Interim relief in review cases Practice and proceedure in urgent judicial review cases. Ian Brownhill QC, No 5 Chambers

13.15 Lunch

AFTERNOON SESSION Chair: Pete Weatherby QC, Garden Court North chambers

14.10 Anti-social behaviour legislation, poverty and discrimination The use of injunctions and other ‘remedies’ against vulnerable people on the streets James Stark, Garden Court North Chambers

14.40 Article 6 in Social Welfare Law Nathalie Lieven QC, Landmark Chambers

15.10 Break

15.25 Afternoon breakouts: 15.25 – 16.25

CHOOSE ONE OF THREE BELOW

  1. Bringing an Equality Act claim in the County Court concerning housing, benefits or education Practice, procedure and common legal aid problems arising in county court discrimination claims, including those brought by way of counterclaim. Joseph Markus, Garden Court North Chambers & Clare Fowler, Howells LLP
  2. Developing sustainable advice services This is a workshop aimed at NfP’s in the advice sector, and will cover common issues in development and governance for NFP advice services. Mark Schwenk, barrister Kenworthy Chambers and Management Committee Member, Greater Manchester Law Centre & Matthew Howgate of Matthew Howgate Consulting & Chris Minnoch, Operations Director, Legal Aid Practitioners Group (LAPG)
  3. Litigating the cuts – an update Oliver Carter, Irwin Mitchell & David Wolfe QC, Matrix Chambers

16.25 Brexit and Benefits Dr Charlotte O’Brien, York Law School

16.55 Closing Address: Access to justice and the Rule of Law Pete Weatherby QC, Garden Court North Chambers

17.15 Finish Standard fee: £192 (£160+VAT) per delegate – private practice and public bodies. Discounted fee: £90 (£75 + VAT) per delegate – Charities, voluntary sector, academics, students, trainee solicitors, pupils and barristers within 2 years of admission. Advisers: £72 (£60 + VAT) per delegate including caseworkers, advisers in CAB’s, Age UK, student advisers and lay advocates working in the voluntary sector. 5% off any online payments 50% off third delegate when 3 book from the same organisation at the same time. Fees include refreshments and lunch. This conference is presented with the supprt of Garden Court North Chambers, BPP Law School and Irwin Mitchell Solicitors.

Minutes of the last North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group plus speaker notes now available.

The minutes of the May 2017 meeting of the NWMHWRAG meeting are now available within their pages within this site. Along with these, speaker Dan Manville has kindly provided a copy of his notes and some guidance and these are available on their “Presentations to the group” page.

If you’re a member of the group then you’ll already know that the minutes are password protected and you’ll know the password. If you have a legitimate need for access to the minutes then please DM @GMWRAGTweets.

The date of the next meeting is already up on their pages. Full details of any future speakers will of course be posted as soon as we know them.

GMWRAG is launching a new section of our web site introducing the Greater Manchester Strategic Casework Group.

The more beady eyed amongst you may have noticed a new section appeared on the GMWRAG web site in December 2016. This section has been password protected until now. Today we’re happy to release most of those new pages into the wild and let you see what we’ve been up to. If you need the password for the templates page please DM @GMWRAGtweets or email Mike Hughes. Alternatively, you can attend the GMWRAG meeting in Stockport on Friday the 16th of June 2017 and we’ll whisper it there.

NB: We’ve not forgotten that meeting. A full agenda including two speakers will be published in the next 24 hours along with full details of the venue and extensive transport options. Anyways…

Greater Manchester Strategic Casework Group was launched in October 2016. The impetus for its creation came from the Task Force report on “DWP Benefit Conditionality and Sanctions in Salford – One Year On.”, published in May 2016. You can read the report via our original post with related information on the report going viral. A presentation given to GMWRAG in June 2016 on same can also be seen on the site.

A number of next actions came from the report. It especially recognised the low number of challenges to sanctions decisions despite the success rate of those challenges being very high. It detailed a different approach in Salford to challenging those decisions where advisers were trained to look at decisions from the perspective of both public law principles and as a potential breach of the Equality Act 2010.

The report suggested the creation of a Greater Manchester wide group to build on this latter approach. This group is that entity.

The brief purpose of the group is to

  • identify appropriate areas of work for action using the Equality Act 2010 and/or public law principles.
  • take an alternative approach to achieving rapidly revised decisions, policy change and financial recompense by lodging complaints/letters before action and, where appropriate, judicial reviews.
  • support advisers in to take-up this approach through these web pages; training; the provision of template letters, case examples and a toolkit.
  • provide a focus referral mechanism for cases which need to progress beyond a complaint or letter before action.

The approach involves lodging complaints and letters before action (usually combined) as a means to rapidly escalating and resolving issues which might otherwise have to proceed to MR and/or appeals. It is a process our members can evidence as having worked. It can produce policy changes which negate the need for endless, repetitive actions on the same issues, and, free up welfare rights advisers time. If a case needs to be a judicial review we now have referral processes which can help this happen quickly. Our first test case is currently with the EHRC.

The intent is shift the focus to the anticipatory duties and responsibilities of the DWP et al rather than the responsibilities of claimants. In practice, we hope to give advisers the tools so that in the future they can pursue these approaches without support from the group.

Meetings are not the main purpose of this group. Action, and changing the way we as advisers take action, is the focus. That said, the next one is tentatively scheduled for late July 2017 in Manchester Town Hall and we will start to post details of these here as soon as everything is confirmed.

Membership of the group is intended to connect activists to welfare rights advisers to barristers and funding for action where needed. We are a group intending to cross geographical boundaries and those between charitable advice services, community organisations, legal professionals, activists, and local government services.

We currently consist of representatives of the Public Law Project, EHRC, and Garden Chambers North. We are looking to ensure that all ten GM areas are represented (as well as increase membership from elsewhere) and we currently have advisers and activists from Wigan, Bury, Salford, Manchester, Stockport, Trafford, Lancashire and Tameside. We will be looking to bring on board advisers from Oldham, Rochdale and Bolton.

Membership of the group remains open to anyone who can contribute to our regardless of area. Please get in touch via @GMWRAGTweets,.

In the meantime, please have a look at our new pages where you can find much more detail, template letters and so on. News on our plans for training on this alternative approach will be posted in due course.

Apologies for the length of this post but we are sensitive to the fact some members do not have access to our web site thanks to IT policies at work so the email this post generates will be the only way some members get this information until they can view the site outside of work. Given recent ransomeware issues within the NHS and elsewhere we’re sure on balance people are currently very grateful for pro-active IT administration.

Equality and Welfare Reform Transformation Project job vacancy.

Equality & Welfare Reform Transformation Project

Project Lead – 30 hours per week, actual salary £24,324 per annum (£30,000 pro-rata)

Citizens Advice Rossendale and Hyndburn have secured 3 years funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation to deliver a new and exciting project, which aims to address inequalities and poor decision making within the welfare benefit system that adversely affects vulnerable and disadvantaged people. This will be achieved through specialist casework, gathering evidence to influence fairer practices and policies and developing links with legal advice providers both locally and nationally. This is a unique opportunity to make a real difference.

The Project Lead will have overall responsibility for managing and delivering the project in line with its aims and objectives, working alongside the Project Support Assistant and reporting to the Chief Officer.

The ideal candidate will have experience of giving welfare benefit advice and have knowledge of the impact of recent welfare reform. You will also have knowledge of the Equality Act 2010 and how this is applied in advice giving. You will need excellent interpersonal and presentation skills and the ability to communicate with a wide variety of audiences. This post requires travel locally and nationally, a full driving licence is required and access to a car or otherwise able to fulfil the travel requirement.

An application pack, including the job description and personal specification, is available on our website www.rossendalecab.org.uk as well as on the foregoing links. To request an application pack, please email admin@rossendalecab.cabnet.org.uk or phone 01706 252012. Please note that CVs will not be accepted without an application form.

If you would like an informal chat, please contact Rachel Whippy on 01706 252 012/01254 304 110.

Closing date: Monday the 26th of June 2017, 5pm

Interview date: week commencing 10th July 2017

SDP awards following an award of PIP.

A number of GMWRAG members have brought it to our attention that there has been a nosedive in the number of awards of Severe Disability Premium (SDP) since the introduction of Personal Independence Payment (PIP). This has apparently been confirmed via a Freedom of Information request and appears to be related to the removal of SDP from Universal Credit (UC) and a policy intent to not check for SDP entitlement UC takes hold.

It’s worth remembering that checking for entitlement to means-tested benefits in specific scenarios remains an obligation regardless of policy intentions and future changes. See, CE277/2014 for but one example.

The above would also explain why a number of members have reported having to repeatedly send in IS 10s or their equivalent as forms mysteriously drop into some kind of abyss. If GMWRAG members can cast this drop off in any different light please let us know but we thought we’d flag it up after several members highlighted numerous issues fully explained by a policy change e.g. SDP forms going missing; SDP forms taking an age to be processed unless constantly chased; SDP being refused incorrectly or refusing to issue forms in the first place.

CPAG legal challenge – do you have a client affected by the two child limit to tax credits/ universal credit?

Do you have any clients who will be affected by the recent legislative changes to Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit due to come into effect 6 April 2017?

The Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 introduced fundamental changes to Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit, limiting child tax credit and universal credit to the first two children in a household. These changes, commonly known as the 2 child rule, will come into force from the 6th of April 2017 together with certain exceptions and transitional arrangements set out in recently published regulations.

The Child Poverty Action Group is looking into the possible routes of legal challenge to the 2 child rule and would like your help in locating potential claimants who would be affected by this rule and who would be willing to be part of a CPAG legal challenge.

CPAG is looking in general for:

  • Any family already claiming benefits with two children and looking to have more in the near future

But also the following particular types of households which may be unfairly affected by the rule (though this is not an exhaustive list of examples):

  • Two lone parent household units already with two children each considering forming a single ‘blended family’ arrangement because the adults have become a couple;
  • An individual or couple caring for one or two ‘kinship’ children but contemplating having children of their own;
  • A family which, when the children were born, did not require state support but now has a need to because of an unexpected change in circumstances (e.g. loss of a job); and
  • A parent who is religiously or philosophically opposed to birth control.

If you can help, please complete the attached test case referral form (save it to your computer first) and email it to testcases@cpag.org.uk

CPAG-Test-case-referral-form

 

Updates on the Tribunal Modernisation Project

Some GMWRAG member organisations may have received a letter from the Ministry of Justice inviting you to subscribe to a mailing list in order to receive updates on the Social Security & Child Support (SSCS) Tribunal Modernisation Project.

For those of you who don’t know what this is… last September the Lord Chancellor, Lord Chief Justice and Senior President of Tribunals published “Transforming Our Justice System” setting out a “… vision for transforming justice through the use of new technologies and innovative approaches to how cases are progressed and decided.

GMWRAG is not clear as to why using technology or alternative dispute resolution is considered as a use of either anything “new” or “innovative” but bear with us. “New” and “innovative” have different meanings in the Ministry of Justice compared to the general population. We’re prepared to suspend disbelief and embrace change as soon as we see them recycling those fax machines and introducing genetically modified judges.

In the meantime brace yourselves for the 14 year old technology of Skype; a further reduction in days available for hearings and video links resembling an episode of Phoenix Nights. “Cuts!” we hear you scream. “Cynics!” we respond (possibly).

The Social Security and Child Support Tribunal are the first of the tribunals to explore the above approaches and it is now proposed to email subscriber updates every 3 to 4 months. This may also involve user involvement.

GMWRAG members will all have had experience of the administration of appeals over the decades and it would not be unreasonable to suspect that not all members have received such a letter. Therefore, if you would like to subscribe to the updates please email SSCS_Tribunal_Proj@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk and ask to be added. We wouldn’t want you to miss out.

Greater Manchester and London handed new “disability powers!”

GMWRAG is wincing reading back the above title but that is what Gov.UK said yesterday when they released a press release. You can find the document at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/greater-manchester-and-london-handed-new-disability-powers but in case you were wondering what it’s really about then it’s about getting “thousands more disabled people into work” and we think it’s talking solely about claimants in receipt of ESA.

There are numerous issues around this starting whether the devolution of such monies does anything other than create a postcode lottery. We could easily take an “I’m alright Jack” approach to this but at present we’re still in the middle of a consultation period for the Green Paper on Work, Health and Disability which this now seems to over-ride with no real clues as to how the money is to be spent beyond procuring and delivering “localised versions” of the Work and Health programme. No reference to barriers to work like a fragmented public transport system; affordable child care; the deteriorating service being delivered by Access To Work and so on.

This talks in terms of the new Work and Health Programme when scepticism has been expressed already about how likely that is to succeed with less money; work coaches on the same grades with more responsibilities and less Jobcentres to begin with. This same climate has seen a deterioration in the work done by Access To Work and cuts to funding of those organisations who do exactly the sort of intense and long-term work needed to get a very small number of disabled people back to work. Add in the weirdness of announcing cuts to Disability Employment Advisers and now an announcement of 500 more and it would be easy to conclude that what we have here is a long way from clear.

So, GMWRAG watches with interest… and not a little confusion.

GMWRAG updates.

Please note that GMWRAG has deactivated our Facebook account with a view to deleting it permanently in due course. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • posts from this site automatically post onto our social media accounts but only Twitter has seen that information shared or commented upon.
  • Members have never approached GMWRAG for information via Facebook and there has only been one occasion when members offered apologies for attendance at a meeting via Facebook.
  • Non-members have repeatedly sought benefits advice and, whilst we have sought to direct and assist, this is untenable in terms of the amount of time it takes.
  • Facebook makes regular changes to its processes compared to other social media companies and this alone makes it difficult to keep up; difficult to manage correctly and so on. The introduction of a separate messaging application further complicated this.

Please accept our apologies if you have enjoyed following GMWRAG on Facebook but our priority has to be an up to date web site linking members into meetings, consultations and so on.

In the meantime we have also taken the opportunity to review aspects of how this site works and we have

  • done a hopefully thorough trawl of all the links posted on the right side of every page within the site and ensured that all broken links are updated or fixed.
  • reduced the post count and widgets (those little boxes of information on the right side of each page) on the home page to make it easier for members to locate currently relevant posts having had repeated comments that members could not locate information about the next meeting. No excuse now 🙂

Universal Credit

Never let it be said that GMWRAG doesn’t have a sense of humour.

GMWRAG would like to present for your delectation two fantastic videos on Universal Credit and one on giving away your data verifying your identity. The first one is especially fascinating. We have at least learnt that DWP have now managed to design a form which can be saved as it goes along. Bravo! How many years? It even gives you a “To Do” list. This apparently includes creating a LinkedIn profile!
You will be especially fascinated to read all about how your identity is verified by giving your data to a private company. The explanation given for this is that your data will be safer because it’s not all held in one place. This is a well known nonsense argument. You can even choose which company with security vulnerabilities provider you give your data to so they can verify you are who you say you are. give it away. Experian anyone? As recently as last year we were reading headlines like “Experian hack exposes 15 million people’s personal information”

Then again, a quick look at the other providers is hardly reassuring. Digidentity have history on this front. Verizon? Ooh, look!

LinkedIn itself has hardly been a paragon of virtue on the data retention front. Losing the data of 164 million users is quite impressive. Of course, no need to worry, most users will be coralled into using the exemplary security of Universal JobMatch. Oh, wait… Could a theme be emerging here?

Scared yet. The above-named and others are the same companies who have your data for the purposes of viewing or sharing your drivers licence information; pretty much most key interactions with HMRC and… well, plenty more you can learn about below!

We could go on. Unfortunately this is but one aspect of UC which is disturbing. Delays in payment. Persistent wholly incorrect advice on who can and can’t claim. A lack of incentives to work. Plenty more where all this came from but in the meantime settle down and view this wonderfully smooth, professional video on how simple and straightforward it is.

We’re not sure what this third video adds beyond the staggering assertion that anyone involved with the digital service is “lucky”. Fill your boots as “they” say!!!

Stockport GMWRAG meeting this Friday – a quick reminder.

In light of the sudden burst of activity on GMWRAG in the past 24 hours it has been pointed out that some people will lose sight of the fact that there is a GMWRAG meeting this Friday so, here you are, a quick reminder.

Everything you need can be found at https://gmwrag.wordpress.com/2017/06/09/the-stockport-gmwrag-meeting-is-here-speakers-public-transport-presenting-officers-and-biscuit-details-all-below and by “everything” we mean the venue details (apparently hoods are no longer required); transport details; the agenda and the minutes of the last meeting, which took place in the dim and distant place known as 2016. There are 2 speakers as previously detailed and there are, of course, biscuits.

We’ll see you there.

The Stockport GMWRAG meeting is here – Friday the 16th of June 2017. Speakers, public transport, presenting officers and biscuit details all below.

On the 10th of May 2017 GMWRAG quietly announced that the next meeting (indeed the first of 2017) would take place in Stockport. You can find that post here but we’re now in a position to provide you with full details and there are a lot of them. Please note that a number of key details have changed from that original post, not least the venue. Soooo…

The next GMWRAG meeting is a full day meeting and takes place in room 5 of Stockport Town Hall (NOT Fred Perry House as we originally suggested) on Friday the 16th of June 2017. Doors will open for refreshments, networking and those without any sense of direction at 9:30am for a 10:00am start.

The minutes of the last meeting can be downloaded from here and the full agenda can now be downloaded from here. Please print them off and bring them with you. GMWRAG hosts are no longer funded to provide copies on the day.

The meeting will have an update on the newly launched GM Strategic Casework Group. If you haven’t had a look at our pages then please do so. There will also be an opportunity to share experiences of the new tranche of Presenting Officers at First Tier Tribunals and both the morning and afternoon sessions will have speakers as detailed below.

GMWRAG was surprised to learn that in our near 4 decade existence we appear to have never had speakers talking about sensory impairment and benefits. Our friends at NAWRA have had workshop presentations from charities like RNIB (and even then maybe only the one) but our agendas and minutes suggest we have not. Hopefully the speakers at this meeting will whet the appetite for further work in this area.

Neither session will involve death by PowerPoint and there will be much in the way of handouts; quizzes; throwing things, er, discussion, interaction and some case law!

Stockport Town Hall, or the “spiritual home of GMWRAG” as it was recently described, is very easily accessed by rail and is a massive 4 minutes walk from Stockport railway station. GMWRAG recommends the train as absolutely the fastest way to get to (and from) Stockport from/to Manchester city centre. Journeys are between 7 and 14 minutes from Manchester Piccadilly station. Please note though that tickets on this route may only be valid for some trains e.g. Northern Trains tickets may not be valid on Virgin Trains and so on.

There are frequent buses and you can get full multi-modal travel information on this via the My TfGM journey planner but all will take considerably longer than the train. If you weren’t already aware, there is also an app available for your smartphone. Welfare rights advisers all have smart phones, don’t you!

If you’re driving in, there are several car parks nearby but you will pay a lot for a full day and the road system can be very confusing for anyone not familiar with the area. Don’t say we didn’t warn you 🙂

Oh, yeah, and the biscuits are on order.

“Overwhelming” pro bono response to Manchester bombing.

GMWRAG is aware not many of our members are solicitors although many of us have excellent working relationships with same. However, we are pleased to see a co-ordinated response to advice provision in the wake of the recent Manchester Arena bomb.

Manchester Law Society had previously put out a plea for pro bono advice and representation for families affected by the events of Monday the 22nd  and has received an ‘overwhelming’ response in the last 48 hours.

The society’s chief executive, Fran Eccles-Bech, said more than 100 solicitor firms, law students, barristers and ‘bigger’ law firms in the north and farther afield have offered to provide free advice to help with legal issues that those affected by the bombing may face. This includes welfare benefits.

Eccles-Bech said the society is working with Manchester police ‘so that victims can more easily find the help they need’.