Research measuring the impact of applying for PIP on a claimant’s perception of their health condition.

With grateful thanks to our friends at Rightsnet.

Can you help? Catherine from the University of Bedfordshire is wanting to reach people who’ve applied or are applying for PIP.

Are you going through or about to start the PIP application process? This can be a difficult time but, if you can, please spare a few minutes to complete a short online survey.

Your answers will contribute to new independent research into the possibility that people’s perception of their condition changes as a result of going through the PIP application process. It is important as perception has demonstrable impact on levels of depression, quality of life, ability to follow treatment plans and even recovery and survival rates. If there is an effect then this needs to be highlighted and, if not, we can look for other explanations for the experiences that many PIP claimants describe.

The research is part of an Applied Psychology Masters dissertation by Catherine Haslam and has been approved by the University of Bedfordshire’s Psychology ethics board. The survey is short and doesn’t ask any personal health questions. All data is annonymised & aggregated.

Thank you in advance for your help. The survey can be accessed at:

https://bedshealthsciences.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9uJpGzsLdeEnPpP

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Right hand. Meet left hand! Wring in despair.

HMCTS have recently upped the ante as regards tribunal modernisation and in particular COR (Continuous Online Resolution). By “upped the ante” we do of course mean that they have finally started to engage with the outside world or at least broadcast to them, which is of course as “consulty” as HMCTS tend to get.

For those of you who have no idea what we’re talking about full (ish) details can be found on an excellent thread on Rightsnet. Why are we writing this now then? Very simple.

First of all a consultation has been launched on the Courts and Tribunals (Online Procedure) Bill.

The Public Bill Committee welcomes views from anyone with relevant expertise and experience or a special interest in the Bill (that would be you GMWRAG members) which has three main effects –

  • it confers regulation-making powers on Ministers, subject to the affirmative procedure – appropriate ministers can designate certain types of court or tribunal proceedings as ones which may or must be conducted by electronic means, subject to the Online Procedure Rules (OPRs);
  • it establishes the Online Procedure Rule Committee (OPRC) and defines that body’s powers to make OPRs; and
  • it determines the membership rules and appointments process for the OPRC.

While the deadline for evidence is expected to be 5pm on Thursday 25 July 2019, the Committee highlights that it is no longer able to receive written evidence once it concludes its consideration of the Bill which may be earlier than that deadline.

Having started in the House of Lords, the Bill was debated and read for the second time in the House of Commons yesterday, during which Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice Paul Maynard – responding to concerns about ‘digitisation by default’ – stated that –

‘I have said at least twice in the debate already that the alternative methods must be protected at all times. People can seek telephone advice, for example. We are also piloting face-to-face advice in at least 25 areas. At any point, people can opt out of the online procedure, and the paper-based alternative will always be available. Either side in a case can opt out of an online procedure to ensure that it does not occur online.’

GMWRAG members can submit evidence via have your say on the Courts and Tribunals (Online Procedure) Bill.

This brings us neatly to the second aspect of this.

The Infrastructure and Projects Authority annual report 2019 has concluded that successful delivery of the HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) Reform Programme is in doubt for the sixth year running. Yes, you really did read that correctly!

The IPA assessed 133 projects included in its GMPP programme this year, including 43 ‘transformation and service delivery projects’, providing each with a ‘Delivery Confidence Assessment’ of green (successful delivery probable) through amber (successful delivery feasible but significant issues exist) to red (successful delivery appears unachievable).

Anyone familiar with the mystery of disappearing online appeals will of course be wondering out loud at this point what realistic chance there is that any of the more complex stuff like COR is ever delivered. On the other hand disappearing online appeals could be described as a fairly efficient way of reducing the backlog which sees people in some areas waiting more than a year for a hearing date.

In relation to the HMCTS Reform Programme, the IPA gives a rating of amber/red – as it has done for the five previous years – defined as –

‘Successful delivery of the project is in doubt, with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas. Urgent action is needed to address these problems and/or assess whether resolution is feasible’

NB – data from the Ministry of Justice to support the IPA report advises that –

‘The programme continues to deliver new services to users and has now launched a new service in every jurisdiction. Over 140,000 users have now used these services and the average satisfaction rate remains high, at above 80 per cent. As part of the business case refresh the programme timeline has been extended by one year and will now expect to close in 2023. Learning from the services that we have already delivered and the feedback received, including from the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office, we have decided to re-order aspects of the programme. This will allow more time to develop some of the shared systems that sit behind our next set of online services.’

Elsewhere, the IPA reports that the DWP’s People and Locations Programme has left the GMPP after successfully delivering savings from a ‘rationalised’ DWP estate (although last year’s annual report rated the Programme as amber/red), the Universal Credit Programme is rated amber (as it was last year) and GOV.UK Verify is rated red (compared to an amber rating last year).

GMWRAG rather thinks these things speak for themselves.

MIND research on the WCA.

MIND are conducting some research into the WCA with a view to contributing to the Social Security Commission.

They are looking for volunteers who have had a WCA and who would be interested in taking part in an interview for research for MIND.

Who are they looking for?

• People who are going or have recently been through the WCA.

• Different types of mental health conditions.

• Would be open to an interview with our research team.

• They would be paid from £60 to £80 (depending on the research part they get involved with) to say thank you for their time.

If you know anyone who might be interested or have any questions, please contact them on 020 7735 8040, or email:

rosa.grossman

@revealingreality

.co.uk or

maeve.garner

@revealingreality

.co.uk

And, yes, we did break those email addresses down deliberately.

Please see the attached.

NOT a job advert and twice as funny.

GMWRAG was, remarkably, getting a tad bored with posting up job adverts all the time. How quickly we become blasé at the extraordinary! We’ll soon alleviate our boredom by chasing up (well, invoicing) all those organisations who need to pay us for those adverts but in the meantime you can have the same amount of fun we did filling in this exciting “communication survey” from our friends at HMCTS.

The gist of this appears to be that they don’t want to know anything helpful or detailed. Consider it of the ilk of those emails you get every now again from Costa Coffee or Cineworld asking about your experience and which then ignore everything you say when you tell them you nearly died of food poisoning or were hideously over-charged.

It says here that

“Today, HM Courts and Tribunals Service has launched a survey of users and those working within courts and tribunals to inform and improve how it communicates with users. The deadline for completing the survey is the 10th of May 2019.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/hm-courts-and-tribunals-service-launch-communications-survey

Our guess is that not many “users” who are also claimants will have got this link. Feel free to forward it on.

GMWRAG is sort of expecting to receive a letter back advising us that our response is out of time and asking for us an explanation. You can probably insert your own HMCTS and communication joke at this point.

NAWRA survey re: natural migration to UC in order to support a response to the Work and Pensions Committee Enquiry on same.

The Work and Pensions Committee has launched an inquiry into natural migration onto universal credit.

Many of you will have seen some of your clients naturally migrate to Universal Credit and suffer a sometimes severe drop in income. This inquiry looks at how and when people are naturally migrating and what needs to change.

NAWRA are carrying out this survey in order to put in a response. It’s only a short survey – please do take the time to give them your views and, at the end, any case studies which particularly demonstrate the hardship people are going through.

Please submit responses by Monday the 11th February 2019 to give them time to put together their response by the 18th of February 2019.

You can access the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CT7XHH7

Consultation on the enforcement of the Equality Act 2010.

Along with judicial review and Human Rights Act challenges, the Equality Act 2010 has become an increasingly relevant and powerful force in achieving change to both roll back welfare reform; eliminate discrimination and enforce reasonable adjustments as part of the claim, decision making and challenge processes. GMWRAG members via the GMSCG group and meetings have rapidly gained confidence, expertise and excellent contacts to make such challenges far easier.

So, head bowed, we can’t for the life of us remember why we haven’t publicised the current consultation being run by the Women and Equalities Committee looking at the effectiveness of the enforcement of the Equality Act 2010.

The Women and Equalities Committee has launches this inquiry into the enforcement of the legislation which is designed to “provide a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all”. You can read the full detail of this at Enforcement of the Equality Act: the law and the role of the EHRC.

Widespread problems with enforcement

Individuals can take legal action to enforce their right not to be discriminated against, mostly through employment tribunals and county courts.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) also has duties and powers to enforce the Act and it has stated that it wishes to become a more ‘muscular’ regulator.

However, the Committee’s work in a range of areas has shown that individuals have difficulties enforcing their rights under the Act and has questioned the effectiveness of the EHRC: inquiries on pregnancy and maternity discrimination, transgender equality, disability and the built environment, workplace dress codes, older people and employment and sexual harassment in the workplace all identified widespread problems with enforcement.

Previous recommendations

The Committee has already made recommendations to improve the enforcement of the Equality Act in specific areas. These include:

  • extending time limits for bringing certain employment cases (pregnancy & maternity and sexual harassment reports)
  • adequate financial penalties (workplace dress codes and sexual harassment reports)
  • increased use by the EHRC of its enforcement powers (workplace dress codes, older workers)
  • greater action by regulators to tackle discrimination in the organisations they oversee (pregnancy and maternity, sexual harassment in the workplace)

The Committee now wants to know what more needs to be done to achieve widespread compliance with the Equality Act 2010 for all those with rights under it.

Send us your views

The Committee calls for written evidence on:

  • How easy it is for people to understand and enforce their rights under the Equality Act
  • How well enforcement action under the Equality Act works as a mechanism for achieving widescale change
  • How effective and accessible tribunals and other legal means of redress under the Equality Act are, and what changes would improve those processes
  • How effective current remedies for findings of discrimination are in achieving change, and what alternative or additional penalties should be available;
  • The effectiveness of the EHRC as an enforcement body, including:
    • Whether the powers the Commission has are sufficient and effective;
    • Whether the Commission is using those powers well;
    • Whether changes are needed to the Commission’s approach to using its enforcement powers as set out in its policies (such as the strategic litigation policy and compliance and enforcement policy) or as implemented in practice, and the way it identifies and selects legal cases to lead or support;
    • Whether the Commission uses enforcement action appropriately and effectively as part of its wider strategies for advancing equality;
    • Whether the Commission’s role as an enforcer is widely known and understood and acts as a deterrent to discrimination.
  • Whether there are other models of enforcement, in the UK or other countries, that could be a more effective means of achieving widespread compliance with the Equality Act 2010, either overall or in specific sectors.

Send your submission using the written submission form. The deadline is Friday the 5th of October 2018.

Please note that the Committee cannot look at individual cases or accept submissions about cases that are currently before the Courts.

Written submissions should focus on the enforcement issues set out in the terms of reference.

This could include, for example, barriers faced when trying to bring a case, but it should not include detailed descriptions of individual cases themselves.

Submissions that do not address the issues set out in the terms of reference may not be accepted by the Committee.

Please contact the Committee staff at womeqcom@parliament.uk if you have any questions about this

Inquiry provides opportunity for a systematic review

Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, Maria Miller MP, said:

“Many of our inquiries inevitably focus on the problems with enforcement of equality legislation and critique the role of the EHRC.

This inquiry will provide the opportunity for a more systematic review of the causes and identify possible solutions.

We want to look at whether the Equality Act creates an unfair burden on individual people to enforce their right not to be discriminated against. How easy is it for people to understand and enforce their rights? How effective is enforcement action? Are tribunals accessible and remedies for findings of discrimination effective? Is the EHRC able to do its job properly? Those are just some of the questions we are seeking to answer.

I would encourage people to submit evidence to our inquiry if they are able to provide more information on those points.”

GMWRAG members will of course not need much reminding that this is the same Maria Miller who introduced PIP with the intention of cutting 20% off the DLA budget and helping disabled people live “… more independent lives” and equally familiar rhetoric along the lines of the victim blaming

“concerns that are based on a lack of detailed information of what we are talking about in terms of our reforms. People need to get the facts rather than speculation”.

Now, where have we heard THAT before? Oh, hang on. It sounds remarkably similar to the phrase

“I remain worried that the legitimate campaigning activity on UC, that is regularly undertaken, is causing anxiety amongst claimants that will make it more difficult to move people safely over to UC”.

No irony at all in the same person who introduced legislation, which is now a hotbed of potential EA 10 cases, asking whether EA 10 is working okay.

GMWRAG loves life 🙂 Off you go then. 5th of October folks. 5th of October.

Further information

Guidance: written submissions

A unique way to communicate with GMWRAG or attempt to participate in electoral fraud.

Thank you to those of you who have already let us know you’ll be coming to the Trafford GMWRAG meeting. We fully appreciate that not all of you are in a position to contact the site admin. or tweet us via @GMWRAGTweets. Therefore, if neither of these routes are currently available to you, please use the voting button below to indicate your attendance at the meeting.

Please note that whilst some scallywags might think it amusing to vote more than once our poll is sufficiently sophisticated to recognise your vote from your IP address and using cookies so you may think you’re getting more than one vote. You’re really not.

On the other hand it’s not so intelligent that it allowed us to delete the “No” option. Maybe that’s just us!

The poll will close in one week and is intended just to give us a rough idea of attendance from those people who don’t know how to Contact GMWRAG and/or who may have not attended previously.

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.

“… supportive eye rolling”.

GMWRAG is having an enjoyable “long post” period and our recent UC post was given considerable traction by social media so we’re not going to apologise for the length of this one.

Once again we offer thanks to our friends at Righstnet but before reading this it’s worth understanding what a UN Special Rapporteur actually is else the significance of the person and the action may not register.

The title Special Rapporteur is given to individuals working on behalf of the UN within the scope of “special procedure” mechanisms who have a specific country or thematic mandate from the United Nations Human Rights Council. The term “rapporteur” is a French-derived word for an investigator who reports to a deliberative body.

The mandate from the UN has been to “examine, monitor, advise, and publicly report” on human rights problems through “activities undertaken by special procedures, including responding to individual complaints, psychological operations and manipulation via the controlled media and academia, conducting studies, providing advice on technical cooperation at the country level, and engaging in general promotional activities.”

Yes, you read that right. “… human rights problems… individual complaints, psychological operations and manipulations”. Worth bearing that in mind the day after the Public Accounts Committee heard the following surreal statements regarding Universal Credit.

“Q96 – Luke Graham MP: why do you think that food bank footfall is increasing in areas where we have full-service Universal Credit?

Peter Schofield: I don’t know. It is a really good question …”

“Q132 – Peter Schofield: …. just because you can’t measure something, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

Gareth Snell MP: Like hardship?”

“Q146 – Shabana Mahmood MP: Mr Schofield and Mr Couling, just thinking about the demeanour with which you are giving evidence today, has it ever occurred to you that a little humility and a willingness to listen might go a long way towards rebuilding some trust in this process?

Chair: Mr Schofield.

Peter Schofield: No, look, well, I—

Chair: No. Thank you. That was very cat out of the bag.”

“Q160 – Chair: Perhaps you can help us out by saying which of the stakeholders and organisations are only raising issues because they don’t approve of the policy. Which of the organisations that we heard from earlier, or that you have heard from, are doing this because they don’t agree with Government policy and actually want to undermine it? Do you want to name them? It would help us to know which ones are doing that.

Peter Schofield: No, I don’t particularly want to name them here …”

“Q225 – Chair: What worries you about that? We have covered some of that today, but what genuinely worries you about what could go wrong there? A lot could go wrong. Every individual is different.

Neil Couling: I worry about the perception of Universal Credit. I am on record saying I am worried about how some of the debate is carrying on and what that is doing to claimants, making them quite fearful. There are a large number of people who will gain from this move over to Universal Credit, getting higher entitlements, but all of the media noise about it is making people quite fearful and I am worried about that…”

“Neil Couling: Yes, and I think we have good policy here, but that may be because I am the one who gave this advice.

Chair: I record for the record the eye-rolling of the permanent secretary.

Peter Schofield: It was a supportive eye-rolling. You will see that on the video afterwards.”

Anyways…

The United Nations Special Rapporteur, Professor Philip Alston (and you can read more about him here), is seeking evidence relating to poverty and human rights ahead of his UK visit in November 2018. Particular areas of interest include austerity and the implementation of Universal Credit.

Professor Alston’s visit – which will take place between the 6th and 16th of November 2018 – will focus on the interlinkages between poverty and the realisation of human rights in the UK.

Calling for written submissions by Friday the 14th of September 2018, Professor Alston highlights a number of themes to focus on, including austerity and universal credit, and he asks –

  • have austerity measures implemented by the government taken adequate account of the impact on vulnerable groups and reflected efforts to minimize negative effects for those groups and individuals?
  • what have the effects of austerity been on poverty (and inequality) levels in the UK in the last decade?
  • have the human rights of individuals experiencing poverty been affected by austerity measures?
  • how have local governments been affected by austerity measures in the last decades by, for example, administration of the welfare system?
  • what alternatives to austerity might have been considered by governments in the last decade that might have had a more positive impact on poverty (and inequality) levels in the United Kingdom?
  • what has the impact of universal credit been on poverty and the lives of the poor in the UK until now, particularly considering specific groups, including for example children, persons with disabilities, women and other groups which may be more vulnerable on the basis of their identity and circumstances?
  • what has been the impact of universal credit being a ‘digital-only benefit’ on the ability of potential claimants to apply for this benefit?
  • what has the impact been of various forms of ‘welfare conditionality’ in the context of universal credit in terms of incentivising work?
  • to what extent has the introduction of universal credit reduced the incidence of fraud and error in the welfare system?

For more information see Visit by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from 6 to 16 November 2018 from the UN website. You could also perhaps tweet him @Alston_UNSR.