Greater Manchester Law Centre have produced a Covid-19 Survival Guide.

Greater Manchester Law Centre has developed a survival kit to support residents and front-line organisations assisting people through the current public health crisis. You can download a pdf copy here.

• The GMLC Survival Kit includes comprehensive information to help people protect things such as their homes and jobs, explaining people’s rights and clear ways to enforce them. They will be regularly updating this guide through their website.

To ensure you are up to date with changes as and when they occur you can access the live version here – https://www.gmlaw.org.uk/covid-19-survival-guide/.

Please feel free to share and circulate.
• They are running a telephone advice service for people wanting advice on housing, employment and benefits issues.

This service is open Monday – Friday, 10am – 3pm.

Please call 0161 769 2244, or alternatively you can send your enquiry via email: housing@gmlaw.org.uk or benefits@gmlaw.org.uk.

If you require any further information please contact at jasontetley@gmlaw.org.uk

First GM update on available welfare rights advice/representation – Stockport.

Further to our recent post about acting as a hub to detail welfare rights advice provision during this difficult period we’re pleased to be able to give you our first update, which is from Stockport Help With Benefit Appeals Team.

NB: We are painfully aware that this information may have changed pretty much by the time we post it. Please bear with us. Both the people providing the information and the people updating it are all doing the best we can in difficult circumstances. We’re happy to apologise in advance if this information falls to be out of date. 

Anyway, if you need welfare rights advice/representation in Stockport or you need to contact professional colleagues there then please note that they are all pretty much working from home at the moment.

Their details are as follows:

• No advice line as such but calls can be made to 0161 217 6003 which is the contact centre for Stockport Council and they will signposted.
• They currently deal with cases from the appeal stage unless it is a complex issue e.g. right to reside. General enquiries go to our advice centres or Citizens Advice. This service is currently changing with Citizens Advice taking over the management of it.
• The team email is benefit.appeals@stockport.gov.uk The online referral form is at https://www.stockport.gov.uk/start/request-an-appointment-for-specialist-help-with-benefit-appeals
• They are providing telephone appointments.
• Accessing post may be limited so contact by email or direct to an adviser once a case is taken via their direct number will be best.

An update from our friends at Leigh Day.

GMWRAG was doubtless amongst many who received a recent update from Leigh Day. This is a timely reminder of how strategic casework might never be more relevant. However, as the email began with “Alright…” some editing was in order 🙂

They think we are going to have a lot of work on unpicking the government response to Coronavirus, in particular in relation to the administration of benefits. A lot of people are going to become reliant on benefits for the first time and potentially for an extended period of time.

They have one JR already in relation to the requirement for ‘self-employed’ workers to claim UC rather than get SSP or benefit from furlough payments (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/mar/22/rishi-sunak-under-pressure-to-bail-out-self-employed)

They are looking at the failure to raise legacy benefits in line with what has been done with UC. If GMWRAG members know of any rare person who is entitled SDP and self employed and also on legacy benefits they would be perfect for this but anyone impacted could potentially claim.

They would also be interested to know if any JCP’s are sanctioning people for failing to comply with conditionality at this time.

Welfare benefits advisers are going to be the first people to see the impact of any issues the changes made are having on the benefits system. If you spot anything you think is particularly grim and/or widespread and worth a challenge and want to talk it through please do let them know.

The GM bit of GMWRAG.

GMWRAG is painfully conscious of trying to avoid being yet another source of (often duplicated) information about the many social security changes caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In light of that we’d like to offer a slightly different role.

Firstly, we’d like to offer all GM welfare rights advice services the opportunity to post information up here (and via @GMWRAGtweets) about how access to welfare rights advice has been affected and amended in light of events. Please contact us either via Twitter DM or the usual email routes if you have information about your advice lines; online referrals; opening times or any other aspect of alternative service provision.

We think this would be a good way to highlight local provision as well as innovation.

Secondly, we’d like to offer any advisers who are currently socially distancing or socially isolating the opportunity to write about the experience from the perspective of being an adviser; trying to keep a service going and trying to not stress out.

This can be as long or as short as you want. In many ways the longer the better. This is your opportunity to describe what the front line currently looks like. We fully appreciate we may get no responses at all at present as people work flat out to maintain something like a status quo. However, the offer is there.

You can email us re: either of the above at

GMWRAG

at

hotmail

dot

co

dot

uk

We absolutely cannot guarantee our responsiveness at present but we’ll certainly do the best we can.

This sounds like the plot of a potential EastEnders episode but sadly it isn’t.

NAWRA has been contacted by a BBC journalist looking at options for pieces relating to young people

  • being asked to leave their parent’s home
  • (or experiencing conflict or becoming homeless)

because of parents losing benefits, particularly where the young person has disengaged from the social security system. This illustrates problems with the cliff edge around the loss of familial benefits such as Child Benefit and Child Tax Credits/Universal Credit for children and then a potential double whammy of the non-dependant deduction being applied to HB or UC housing costs.

The journalist is looking for young people (ideally aged 18 and under) and parents in this position. He may also want to speak with experts and is looking for people who would be happy to discuss the issues faced by young people and their low income parents that you and your team encounter on a day to day basis.

If you would like to get involved please email

kelly

at

nawra

dot

org

dot

uk

and she will pass your details on.

First dumbass to point out that the email is formatted oddly will win no prize. This is a means of avoiding spam bots etc. picking up email addresses and deluging them with spam.

Greater Manchester Law Centre is moving premises.

Our friends at Greater Manchester Law Centre are moving premises.

They have been based at 159 Princess Road, M14 4RE. But as of the 7th of October 2019 they will be operating out 667/669 Stockport Road, M12 4QE.

The new building is by the Jain Centre, near Crowcroft Park. It is mainly serviced by bus number 192.

Please note that they aren’t taking on new clients between now and the 7th.

If  you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact reception.

An update on the GMWRAG archives.

GMWRAG has been quietly digitally archiving our past for around 7 of the 10 years existence of this site. As our history is long and convoluted there is no single archive location so this may not be immediately obvious to site viewers as much of the material can be found buried in sub-menus in related sections. We long ago decided that, for example, NWMHWRAG archives could be buried/located in their section of the site and so on. Most of our archive is inevitably minutes but you will also find plenty to entertain you in our training and presentations links associated with those minutes.

The GMWRAG archive is about to grow considerably as we have obtained 4 boxes worth of material stretching back to the late 1980s. For the first time we have much more than minutes and agendas and we’ll be posting these up over a period of many months rather than weeks.

However, this is a long process and there is no single location where you will immediately notice the growth. This site is maintained on goodwill and obviously there are limits to the amount of scanning, uploading and writing which can be done in the working week and (yes) outside of working hours. However, watch this space as the depth and breadth of the site content will grow during 2019 like never before.

In the meantime, if you have any documents (paper or digital) which you would like to donate to the GMWRAG digital archive please Contact GMWRAG and we’ll happily (within reason) take them off your hands and add them to the list of things to be digitally archived.

It would however help us immensely if you could check out the site first and weed out any duplicates before handing over your documents. Thank you.

GDPR and GMWRAG

GMWRAG is currently exploring the myriad of options GDPR appears to afford us to screw up accurately telling you how we store your data etc. We have decided that until we can get our heads around who is controlling what and why (which to be fair is an issue we’re also having with UC full service) we are going to adopt a tentative and wide ranging approach. It has been suggested that this might be better titled “will this do?” but we’re having none of it.

So, although most of you know that the “GMWRAG mailing list” has no tangible form any more – the only mailing list we have is that of email addresses of subscribers to this blog/web site and that’s contained within the administration of the site rather than in a paper format – we still think we ought to explore whether there might be some other options for how we might contact you.

That nice Mr. Kitson has suggested an excellent template for this. Please tweet us and let us know if you agree.

Do you agree that GMWRAG can contact you by

  • email
  • proper mail
  • singing telegram
  • sky writing
  • using a megaphone out in your street
  • creeping up behind you at the office kitchen sink and bellowing our plans
  • raiki

If you have any other preferred options please let us know.

Further Universal Credit roll out in Greater Manchester.

Full Service Universal Credit rolls out to some more areas of Greater Manchester in the next couple of months. Roll out is by JobcentrePlus and the postcodes attached to each one.

Cheetham Hill goes first on the 25th of  July 2018.  This may affect Salford residents with the post codes M7 4, M8 5, M8 8 and M8 9. The rest of Salford will go live on the 26th of September 2018.

Anyone who needs to make a new claim for one of the six “legacy” benefits that UC replaces will trigger a claim for UC.

About three months after these dates existing UC claimants on the live system will be contacted by DWP with instructions on what to do to claim on the digital system.

From about July 2019 to 2022 the DWP say the remaining “legacy benefit” claimants will have to start claiming UC.