Further information for Everyday Equality event this Friday.

GMWRAG has now received version 7 of the agenda for Friday which can be downloaded from this link. We fully anticipate working our way to version 10 before Friday but we thought we’d put this out there to give attendees a flavour of the day in advance.

Please note the following details for accessing the building.

The external door is on Richmond Street. Delegates need to press the buzzer and say they are there for the event in order to be let in. There is then a lift immediately in front which takes you to the 3rd floor.

If there is anyone that prefers three flights of stairs, they will need to buzz and ask to be let in at a different external door which is to the left of the main door.

 

We have a full list of attendees and basically, if you’re not on that list then you do not have a place. Please remember to bring your confirmation email or Eventbrite ticket. It will avoid our bouncer – yes, we have a bouncer – (who is very mean looking and comes from Stockport apparently) having to escort you some of the way back to from whence you came.

The event is at full capacity and all who have tickets will have food provided at lunch time and refreshments throughout the day.

Please remember that this is a building in which other work is taking place. Delegates must not enter the adjacent Wellbeing Suite under any circumstances.

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Full details of the January 2019 GMWRAG Everyday Equalities event are now available.

We’re going to keep this as simple as we can.

The full details of the next GMWRAG meeting are now available and they are pretty much as per our September 2018 post. This is a unique opportunity for GMWRAG members so book quickly to avoid disappointment.

There are three additional pieces of information you need to know:

  • A buffet lunch will be provided courtesy of our friends at the EHRC. However, anyone coming to the meeting will need to let us know their dietary requirement else there may be nothing available to meet your needs.
  • This is a ticket only event. Tickets are only available from Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/everyday-equality-challenging-discrimination-in-the-welfare-benefits-system-tickets-50261737209. Anyone attending without a ticket won’t be getting past reception at the venue (unless you’re a speaker at the event :))
  • Registration is for 1 person only. There are no group bookings. If you want to attend then you need to register personally.
  • NWMHWRAG members. The lucky 20 of you who have already reserved a place will need to bring your confirmation email with you else you also won’t get past reception.

The full agenda for the day can be viewed when you register for a place. It can also be downloaded from here. The minutes of the last meeting can be downloaded from https://gmwrag.wordpress.com/our-meetings/minutes-of-previous-meetings but there is currently no intention to go through normal GMWRAG business at this event.

Minutes of the last NWMHWRAG meeting are now available for download.

The minutes of the last (November 2018) meeting of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group (NWMHWRAG) are now available for download from here.

The minutes are all available in posts like this but the minutes page itself hasn’t been updated since July 2018. GMWRAG apologises for their being a bit of a lag getting these up on the NWMHWRAG pages but we’ll be fixing this asap.

In the meantime NWMHWRAG members should watch their Inbox for news about the next GMWRAG meeting. We’re hoping to have full details with you before the end of the week.

The minutes of the Manchester Tribunal User Group are now available.

GMWRAG is old enough to remember when Tribunal User Groups (TUG) were held four times a year. We have long been of the view that holding a Manchester TUG once a year is largely tokenistic and speaks to an organisation largely disinterested in genuine engagement with its “customer base” or whatever it wants to call tribunal users this year. At a point when HMCTS is closing venues; relocating regional centres and tentatively entering the virtual world about 25 years after the rest of the world we can’t bring ourselves to express much surprise then that it has been 18 months since the last Manchester TUG.

Nor will we express much surprise that HMCTS once again demonstrates itself incapable of competent organisation having listed this one for “hearing” during half term and then not sending out the minutes to those organisations which it invited but who were, quite understandably, unable to attend for rather obvious practical reasons. Next, HMCTS will be claiming there’s no need for a TUG because few people attend. Well… we can’t imagine why that would be!

A quick GMWRAG review of Manchester TUG minutes shows that pretty much nothing has changed in the best part of 30 years. End to end administration remains poor and delays remain unacceptable. The same issues occur repeatedly.

We are therefore almost delighted to present for your delectation a set of 2018 minutes in which HMCTS have presented us with something new. Plus an accompanying document in which HMCTS have presented us with something about “reform”.

Manchester TUG GMWRAG Minutes 2018.

Another “reform” document.

The “something new”? GMWRAG has never seen a set of TUG minutes in which the basic performance statistics with which we have been provided for the past 30 plus years is accompanied by the following statement:

“This information does not form part of the Official Statistics and is restricted and should not be shared more widely than the attendees at this meeting.”

This leaves GMWRAG members in the extraordinary position that not only are TUGs now 18 months apart (and every TUG meeting for the past 30 years has contained a question from an attendee about the continued failure to hold meetings with the required frequency) but if you can’t make it then you don’t even get to see the contents of the meeting nor the basic performance statistics which enable you to for example advise clients of how long it might take for their appeal to be listed!

GMWRAG is extremely grateful for the member who provided these minutes. We can say we have redacted the relevant “performance” statistics with the utmost reluctance and feel grubby for having done so. We can see no reason for their redaction and will be writing to HMCTS to query the approach. We look forward to the likely GDPR related explanation. We wonder if this will be as credible as the recent attempt to explain away problems with introducing implicit consent to Universal Credit as also being because of GDPR!

In the meantime we have been amusing ourselves with the interwebs many apposite acronyms for GDPR. We’re quite taken with “Generally Dreadful Permanently Rubbish”. Why that one stuck? Who knows.

And yes, it’s not you, the Christmas snow on the GMWRAG web site should now be back in business.

Updated statement from Greater Manchester Law Centre.

Exactly one year ago, we released our statement on the Universal Credit rollout. We were approached by a local Job Centre, who asked if we could provide facilities and support for Universal Credit applications. This did not sit well with us, and we carefully considered why.

We stand alongside people who’re fighting the DWP’s hostile environment. We have reclaimed over one million pounds falsely denied to disabled claimants in Greater Manchester, whilst demanding that the Government is held to account for the policies that are preventing disabled and unwell people from getting the disability payments they are entitled to. We are independent. Our legal services are free, professional, and face to face.

Therefore, our response was clear: the government cannot rely on the voluntary sector to pick up the pieces. For example, if Universal Credit is so convoluted and ineffective that those implement it ask charities for help, then it should not have been implemented at all. Our role is to publicly challenge the injustices of this government’s welfare regime.

One year on, we stand by this position. We remain independent, funded by our supporters and community.

GMLC’s statement, October 12th 2017: “We will not be complicit”

At the Greater Manchester Law Centre, we help people to navigate the existing benefits system. Vulnerable members of our community are struggling to access the support they deserve because of long and intimidating application forms and convoluted tribunal processes. In our first year, we helped clients with lost benefits to claim back £370,000, which demonstrates that many people are having to fight protracted battles to receive benefits that they should never have been denied in the first place. The consequences of an ineffective welfare system can be devastating, and Universal Credit appears destined to worsen the situation.

As a voluntary sector organisation, we are steadfast in our stance on Universal Credit: we will not assist in its implementation. If Universal Credit is so convoluted and ineffective that voluntary sector organisations are relied upon, then it should not be implemented at all. For example, a local Job Centre approached us earlier this year to ask if we would provide computers and supervisors to help people keep online journals for Universal Credit. Our response is clear: this is not the role of the voluntary sector. We will not be complicit in a scheme which results in further adversity and punishment for vulnerable people. We therefore refuse to facilitate the Universal Credit rollout.

Contact: Roz Burgin and Astrid Johnson, Development Workers, development[at]gmlaw.org.uk

Tel: 0161 769 2244                                                                                                                               

Facebook: Facebook.com/gmlawcentre

Twitter: @gmlawcentre

Web: www.gmlaw.org.uk

Registered Charity Number 1170317

Registered Company 09698401

The Greater Manchester Law Centre is a member of the Law Centres Network, http://www.lawcentres.org.uk.

Links

Manchester Evening News: Special Report on Universal Credit roll-out http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/who-going-feed-kids-stress-13739245

GMLC reclaim over one million pounds falsely denied to disabled claimants https://www.gmlaw.org.uk/2018/09/14/one-million-pounds/

The government has created a “hostile environment” for disabled people, new research shows https://www.gmlaw.org.uk/2018/07/16/hostile-environment/ 

Support GMLC today https://www.gmlaw.org.uk/donations-standing-orders/

Your all in one GMWRAG post on GMWRAG in Trafford.

We’ve made our claims online. We’re in the middle of our assessment period and we’ll (perhaps) get the pay off in 2 weeks time only to watch it all subsequently fall apart 🙂 Yes, the Trafford GMWRAG approaches and it has correctly been pointed out that not all of the information about the meeting is contained in one place. So, here’s the one post where everything is collated (until the next time we need to add something).

The meeting is a full day meeting and takes place at the offices of Trafford Housing Trust, Sale Point, 126-150 Washway Road, Sale M33 6AG on Friday the 19th of October 2018. Doors will open at 9:30am for a 10am start and we aim to finish for 4ish.

The venue is (we are told) a very straight forward 14 minute walk from the Sale Metrolink stop (M33 2DG in case you were wondering) and is also on a main bus route. Drivers? You’ll figure it out 🙂. Parking? Use a a sat nav.

The minutes of the last meeting remain available here and the final agenda can be found over here. Please note that whilst the name of the latter includes the word “Draft” it is most definitely the final version of the agenda. A big thank you to all those people who threw stuff at us really quickly and in great detail by email when we asked for your top 5 issues to help shape the agenda. We’re (reasonably) confident that the final agenda reflects in general terms almost all of the issues raised but we’re also painfully aware that you can’t please all of the people all the time.

On that note we’re sure that attendees or potential attendees are aware that our key speaker is Neil Couling CBE, Director General of the Universal Credit Programme. and that the day is dedicated to looking at common UC issues in GM and putting together a plan to manage those going forward. This means we have rather more housekeeping rules than normal.

  • Anyone turning up spontaneously as per most GMWRAG meetings may find we cannot accommodate them. We appreciate this is unusual but the room holds a maximum of 50 people and we are reasonably confident we will fill it. It’s a way to travel only to find we don’t have room so please Contact GMWRAG.
  • This is a GM meeting. GMWRAG has always welcomed members from as far afield as Cumbria and North Wales but this one is a GM meeting about specific GM issues and solutions. Whilst we’re sure many members might want to turn up out of curiosity to see; listen to and debate with a national figure and three local partnership managers we have had to make the hard decision that our priority has to be to give space to active GM workers who are not only interested in devising processes to look at solutions but who will also be around to work on those in the immediate future. We are happy(ish) to apologise if this appears stern but we have a small waiting list for non-GM advice staff and if we do think there’s space then we will contact anyone on the list
  • Equally, please do not turn up just for our guest speaker. See the previous bullet point. This is a working day with very specific aims for the GM area and whilst we welcome all participants we need people to be there for the full day else it becomes a little pointless. If you wish to attend please contact GMWRAG via the usual routes.
  • The logistics of this meeting have taken considerable effort from a small group of people to whom GMWRAG would like to extend (pathetically) grateful thanks right now. However, our hosts organisational skills will be fully occupied on the day and so once again we really urge attendees to download and print both the agenda and minutes and bring them with you on the day. It will really aid the smooth running of the meeting.
  • For those who have not attended previously we provide tea, coffee, water and biscuits. No lunch is provided. Expect to go for a walk or by all means bring your own.

We’ll give you all maybe one more prod before the meeting but we look forward to seeing you on the day.

Final preparation for the GMWRAG meeting in Trafford. Final agenda now available.

Everything is now in place for the next GMWRAG meeting in Trafford on Friday the 19th of October 2018. As usual this is a full day. Most of the details you need to attend can be found in our previous post.

The minutes of the last meeting remain available in the usual place and, as ever, we would prefer that you print these off in advance and bring them with you to the meeting to minimise the work of the meeting hosts. The agenda for the day is also now available and can be downloaded from here. As with the minutes, please bring your own copy if you can.

As per previous posts, this is going to be a busy meeting with a very tight agenda in a limited space. Anyone who turns up on the day assuming they can roll up spontaneously as per most GMWRAG meetings may find that we cannot accommodate them. We appreciate this is unusual but the room holds a maximum of 50 people and we are confident we already have 45 plus people attending including our 4 guests.

Equally, please do not turn up just for our guest speaker. This is a working day with very specific aims for the GM area and whilst we welcome all participants we need people to be there for the full day else it becomes unmanageable. If you wish to attend please contact GMWRAG via the usual routes.

Rumours that we’ve ordered a take out from the food hall at the Trafford Centre at lunch time are wholly unfounded, although if anyone wants to offer…