Initial details of the next GMWRAG meeting – in Bolton.

A date for your diaries.

GMWRAG is pleased to announce that (for once) we are wholly ahead of the game and can confirm that the next GMWRAG meeting will take place on Friday the 20th of April 2018 in the Hindleys Room at Bolton At Home. The full address is Valley House, 98 Waters Meeting Road, The Valley, Bolton BL1 8SW. This will be a full day meeting and as per the Salford meeting we are hoping to secure two excellent speakers.

The minutes of the Salford meeting and associated documents and videos have been available since the end of January 2018 and can still be downloaded from the initial post or their more permanent home. An agenda for the Bolton meeting will be available as soon as we have finalised speakers and at that point we’ll post up your full options for travel and food as well.

More information as we have it.

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Minutes of the Salford GMWRAG meeting.

The minutes of the recent GMWRAG meeting in Salford are now available for download. They will also be permanently available at our minutes of previous meetings page.

Please note that these minutes are very detailed as they contain comprehensive additional notes for each speaker as requested by a number of attendees and members who sent apologies. They’re not a quick read but they offer a detailed insight into the work of both speakers!

The minutes also contain a significant number of links to useful resources mentioned by both speakers on the day, which we agreed to include in the minutes. If you want to view those resources you will need to read the minutes on a screen and click the links first rather than just download and print, albeit that we’d ask you to print a copy off to take to our next meeting in April 2018!

The presentation from our first speaker will remain permanently available in our Presentations and Notes section. Salford’s “Tackling Poverty Strategy” remains available by clicking on the title in this sentence.

Our second speaker also brought a number of leaflets with him re: PLP work on sanctions and we agreed to distribute these with the minutes. You can download the PLP sanctions project leaflet from here.

GMWRAG members will be aware we streamed the second speaker via Persicope. That stream was eventually viewed by 128 people. These were largely GMWRAG or NAWRA members. The foregoing number does not count those very strange scantily clad people who urged “Boys, look at my profile pic! The more eagle-eyed members at the meeting may have noticed some frantic profile blocking going on during the broadcast! We’re fairly confident most GMWRAG members don’t usually dress like that!

The broadcast itself was available until midnight on the day of the meeting. Now it has been summarised within the minutes the broadcast has been deleted. We have been given permission to allow a short, non-controversial clip to be used for the site and you can see this below.

Again, the more eagle-eyed will note that in order to facilitate this GMWRAG now has a YouTube channel. You can find this by clicking the link in the previous sentence. If GMWRAG members have any good ideas for things we could live stream or record in future then we’ll be more than happy to listen. Feel free to contact GMWRAG via @GMWRAGTweets.

First presentation available from the January 2018 GMWRAG meeting in Salford.

There are a lot of materials to upload from the recent GMWRAG meeting in Salford so apologies in advance for doing this in a slightly piecemeal manner. All presentations at meetings are permanently located within Our Meetings sub pages if you can’t find posts like this which initially announce their availability.

Our a.m. speaker in Salford was Catherine Connors, Commissioning Manager from the People’s Directorate in Salford City Council. Her presentation on “The development and delivery of the Tackling Poverty strategy in Salford – the role of specialist advice providers.” is now available for download.

Summary notes from the presentation will be available as part of the minutes

Anyone wishing to view the strategy itself, titled “NO ONE LEFT BEHIND: A joint strategy from the Salford City Mayor and Salford Youth Mayor can view/download it from here.

A riddle wrapped up in an enigma – yes, the GMWRAG accounts are available.

Those of you who have been nagging for weeks and then sending your apologies asking politely about the agenda, minutes and other details of the forthcoming GMWRAG meeting this coming Friday will have hopefully noticed that the GMWRAG accounts have a brief slot in the afternoon ahead of our speaker.

Please note that the latest accounts have been uploaded and are available for viewing. We’re sure GMWRAG members are (largely) bright enough to figure out where we hide them on the site and that they are password protected should you wish to print off your own copy before Friday. A small number of paper copies for the elite will be available for perusal on the day but we’d much rather you brought your own.

If you can’t figure it out then the accounts are available from here.

GMWRAG did imply we would post separately about food in Swinton if you’re staying for the day. We were amused to learn that if we used TripAdvisor to give you a list of nice places to go in Swinton it largely sends you to Eccles or Manchester! Most local and nearby pubs no longer serve food. However, we’re going to suggest GMWRAG members have one of four realistic choices. The excellent but small Stupots on Partington Lane (a mere 7 minutes walk from the Civic Centre where we’ll be meeting) or the Asda and Morrisons cafes or dining al fresco at Greggs! Either that or bring your own. The committee room will be available throughout the lunch period.

Agenda for the forthcoming GMWRAG meeting in Salford.

The next full day GMWRAG meeting takes place in Salford on Friday the 19th of January 2018. Full details of the meeting and options for travel have already been posted. We may even post options for food at lunch time in the next week if you’re planning on coming for the day.

Minutes of the last meeting can be downloaded from our minutes page and the full agenda is now available for download.

We have a packed agenda including two excellent speakers:

We look forward to seeing you there.

DLA and PIP caselaw for visual impairment.

At the June 2017 Stockport meeting GMWRAG members had a rare opportunity to look directly at issues around hearing and sight impairment in relation to DLA for children and PIP.

Presentations have previously been circulated from both speakers and made available via a post here on the 4th of July 2017. However, for reasons which escape, but which are most likely wholesale incompetence, the presentations have not been made available on a permanent basis in our “presentations and notes” page. Indeed, we had managed to turn the menu item for this off in our Meetings section. Good to see no-one noticed 🙂

Anyway, a number of requests have been made for the case law pack for people with a sight impairment, improvised for the session, to be made properly available. Additionally a number of GMWRAG members have contributed new decisions to be added so, we have been able to produce an updated edition. Nowt special but it’s as good a place as any to start. You can download it from here and find it permanently here, which is a different “here” if you see what we mean. We have also added the NDCS new line on PIP and safety document to the same place.

In other news we appear to have posted up the minutes of the Oldham meeting and then completely forgotten to add them to the minutes section of the web site. Fixed it now.

Updated – GMWRAG resources for advisers.

GMWRAG has updated the sub pages of the NWMHWRAG so that the presentations to the group page now includes recent DWP responses to group questions about Universal Credit.

Within our “Protected: Resources for advisers in the North West” section we have now added email contact details for every DWP Partnership Manager within the Greater Manchester area. You’ll be needing these for those rare UC failures you may occasionally come across when you need some soothing Vivaldi and a cushion to bite.

These are only accurate as of today and you will of course need the asymmetric encryption key and pass card…

Oh, okay. Ask nicely and we’ll give you the password.

Improving Lives: The Future of Work, Health and Disability – a brief part 2. There will doubtless be more to follow!

Yeah, yeah, yeah. We do know it’s snowing on the GMWRAG web site. We do know it’s only the 1st of December. We do know a number of you will object because it may even be snowing and inconveniencing you as we write. Anyway…

Following on from our recent piece on the governments somewhat under thought response to the existence of the disability employment gap which, if you haven’t read it already, can be found at  https://gmwrag.wordpress.com/2017/11/30/the-nightmare-before-christmas-improving-lives-the-future-of-work-health-and-disability, GMWRAG is pleased to see the BBC stepping to the fore with it’s first article on the subject not being an analysis of what will or won’t work amongst the many small proposals.

Instead the BBC have published this pertinent little article that ignores most of the proposals and instead focuses on a point made in the original GMWRAG article and indeed made by many responding to the original green paper. The plain old problem of transport to and from work (see the next to last paragraph in our article.

Disability employment: The challenge of getting to work in a wheelchair is worth 5 minutes of your time next time and can be found at the link above.

The Nightmare Before Christmas – Improving Lives: The Future of Work, Health and Disability.

In the furore about whether the Grinch really did steal Christmas Universal Credit claimants will miss out on money during the Christmas period you may have missed that the government yesterday published “Improving Lives: The Future of Work, Health and Disability”.

This follows on from last years consultation on proposals to close the “disability employment gap”, which itself derived from the “Improving Lives: work, health and disability green paper” to which the government responded yesterday.

The proposals are nicely summarised at gov.uk but we’ll repeat them here for the sake of completeness. This includes:

  • Extending fit note certification beyond GPs to a wider group of healthcare professionals, including physiotherapists, psychiatrists and senior nurses, to better identify health conditions and treatments to help workers go back into their jobs faster. Fit notes are designed to help patients develop a return to work plan tailored to their individual needs.
  • Conducting large-scale employment research pilots in West Midlands and Sheffield which will include over 11,000 people. This research will gather evidence to help improve services for those with health conditions, supporting them get into and stay in work, and helping make sure services are accessible and inclusive for all.
  • 2,000 work coaches have received training since 2015 to help them work with benefit claimants with mental health conditions. The government is committed to building on this with the introduction of an enhanced training offer developed with a national mental health charity.
    £39 million investment to more than double the number of employment advisors in an existing NHS programme treating people with depression and anxiety disorders.
  • Responding in full to the 40 recommendations of the Stevenson/Farmer Review of mental health and employers – including reforming Statutory Sick Pay, improving advice and support for employers and encouraging transparency. The government is also encouraging other employers to take forward these recommendations.
  • Over 5,000 companies have signed up to the Disability Confident scheme to promote disability inclusion and government is encouraging more companies to sign up.
  • Appointing an Expert Working Group on Occupational Health to champion, shape and drive a programme of work to take an in-depth look at the sector.

Work and Pensions Secretary David Gauke described this as “…an ambitious 10-year strategy to end this injustice once and for all. By bringing employers, the welfare system and health services together we’re taking significant steps to ensure everyone can reach their potential”.

GMWRAG was fascinated to note on page 50 of the document all the “progress” thought to have taken place since the green paper. Key amongst these are things GMWRAG members already know to simply not be working anywhere near what was intended such as the introduction of a digital DS1500 to increase process speed for terminally ill customers, and, the “health and work conversation”.

GMWRAG notes the conspicuous intent to “fix” MSEs within the NHS but with no comparable intent with regard to assessment providers for ESA. We note the complete failure to address the lack of coherence in provision of support for disabled people. We note the total failure to recognise significant structural issues within the benefit system which act as a fundamental barrier to employment including a reduction in the scope of in-work and disability benefits such as the removal of a payment for being in the work-related activity group.

We note the lack of any recognition that equally fundamental deficiencies in public and door to door transport might be a significant barrier to employment. The continuing insistence on describing support as “specialist” when it patently is not and, finally, we note the recognition that only 6% of fit notes talk about people being able to do any kind of work without any corresponding analysis of whether that is actually a reflection of the reality of being a disabled person in the UK.

In short GMWRAG cannot see any way in which any of the above proposals, interesting as they are in isolation, will make even the slightest dent in the disability employment gap.