O Come All Ye Faithful – the next meeting of the Greater Manchester Strategic Casework Group is upon us.

The next GMSCG meeting takes place on Wednesday the 6th of December 2017 between 9.30am and 11.30am at Garden Court North Chambers, 3rd Floor, Blackfriars House, Parsonage Walk, Manchester, M3 3JA.

Please note that this meeting has been very deliberately scheduled to enable anyone attending the CPAG Universal Credit session in the afternoon at the same venue to come see us also.

The purpose of the meeting remains as ever to
• identify appropriate areas of work for action using the Equality Act 2010 and/or public law
principles
• take an alternative approach to achieve rapidly revised decisions, policy change and financial
recompense by lodging complaints/letters before action and, where appropriate, damages claims or
judicial reviews
• push for systemic change over repeated wrongs by the DWP
• support advisers to take-up this approach, by way of: web pages; training; template letters; case
examples; meetings; a toolkit
• provide an occasional referral mechanism for cases which need to progress beyond a complaint or
letter before action

In public law terms this could be summarised as shifting the focus to the anticipatory duties and responsibilities of DWP and others, rather than the responsibilities of claimants.

The minutes of the last meeting can be downloaded directly from this link but will also be permanently available within the GMSCG pages.  The minutes are on their own password protected page. You can obtain this from any GMSCG member or via a DM to @GMWRAGtweets.

The agenda for the meeting is as follows. It has not been published as a separate item.

Agenda
1) Legal Aid / legal help and the gateway.
Clare Fowler, Howells Solicitors. What is legal help, what are the barriers to obtaining Legal Aid, and what advisers might do to further the case. Issue of extreme low take up of social security discrimination cases though legal aid gateway.
30-40 mins
Reference: Bach Commission, appendix 5, author – Henry Brooke.

2) Public Law Project (PLP) – new guide to exceptional cases funding, (Legal Aid) and welfare rights matters.
Katy Watts or Matt Ahluwalla. New guide in preparation, to support welfare rights advisors to access legal aid by the exceptional cases funding route.
20 mins
Reference: PLP guides

3) DLA to PIP transfers and failures of the DWP to make reasonable adjustments in the process.
Kester Dean. Proposal for possible actions to take to protect vulnerable claimants.
10 mins

4) Anonymous case study & digital exchange and referral tool
Jo Chimes, Project Lead Equality, Rossendale CAB, (& Sian Jordan, Rossendale CAB, & the legal geeks)
Proposal in development: a tool for the exchange and circulation of anonymous case studies, with possible support from legal geeks, ‘Atticus Link’.

The aims of the tool include a means to connect advisors, legal eagles, & organisations, for the progress of cases towards action in the courts, and for exchange of knowledge and practice.
20-25mins

5 ) Case study from a GMSCG member
10 mins

If you would like to attend this or other GMSCG meetings notify please contact Robin Serjeant or DM @GMWRAGtweets and we’ll put you in touch with Robin.

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The Miracle Before Christmas.

GMWRAG will of course offer a grovelling apology to Oldham WRS for the tongue in cheek title of this post. We simply refer you to our minutes page and mention “January 2014”! 🙂

However, following on from the recent post confirming initial details of the first GMWRAG meeting of 2018 we are happy to confirm that the minutes of the last meeting in Oldham are now available for download.

GMWRAG will now have to stop pretending we’ve got an agenda and speakers and pull our proverbial finger out 🙂 We’ve booked the room okay! We’ve booked the room! 🙂 Anybody got a number for Frank Field or the award winning Neil Couling?

You may gather GMWRAG is rapidly approaching end of November “No, it is not Christmas yet!” levels of hysteria.

Minutes of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Officers Group and a date for the next meeting.

The minutes of the last meeting of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group (NWMHWRAG) are now available. They can be downloaded from here and also found permanently on their pages. We have updated their pages to reflect the fact that the first meeting of 2018 will take place on Friday the 26th of January 2018.

We have noted that the minutes between May and November 2017 have gone AWOL so we will be attempting to fix this ASAP. Yeah, alright, we MAY have forgotten to take them from our posts and put them on the page! By the time you read this it will have hopefully been done.

GMWRAG will of course be having a quiet word about the use of the Comic Sans font and ensuring this doesn’t happen again 🙂 A quick browse here should be the starting point 🙂

First GMWRAG meeting of 2018.

We confirmed back in October 2017 that the next GMWRAG meeting would take place in Salford and we anticipated this would take place on Friday the 19th of January 2018. We can now confirm this as a definite date. The meeting will take place in committee room 3 of the old town hall in Swinton (M27 5 FJ). It will be a full day meeting and we are just waiting for two of three potential speakers to confirm. Minutes of the last meeting are awaited from Oldham and we’ll distribute those and a full agenda as soon as they’re finalised.

Many of you will have been to Swinton before and recognise there are considerable difficulties in securing parking, especially if needed for the day. For this reason GMWRAG urges attendees to either car share or use public transport. There is public transport information available at https://www.salford.gov.uk/council-buildings-and-venues/how-to-find-us but we have alerted Salford to the fact much of this out of date. Some options have improved (electric car charging) and some have not (parking generally).

We can tell you at this stage that Salford is well served by public transport with a train station less than 10 minutes walk from the civic centre and buses coming past the civic centre on Chorley Road and Partington Lane on a regular basis. Guided busway and other buses also go down the East Lancs. Road and drop off less than 10 minutes walk from the civic centre.

We’ll post more about your transport options when we post up the full meeting details with agenda, speakers and minutes of the last meeting.

Next meeting of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group – Questions for the DWP.

The next meeting of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group (NWMHWRAG) takes place on Friday the 24th of November 2017 as detailed on their pages within the GMWRAG site. Minutes of the last meeting remain available for download but we’d like to remind attendees that the November meeting should include a session with DWP Partnership Managers for full service Universal Credit areas. NWMHWRAG are asking for questions in advance in order to minimise the need for questions to be “taken back”.

Questions should be directed to Helen Rogers at Stockport by no later than Wednesday the 1st of November 2017. This does not prevent questions being asked on the day. It just maximises the chances of having full answers on the day.

Attendees should already know how to contact Helen. GMWRAG is generally reluctant to put contact details such as email addresses and phone numbers on this site as we have history on this opening up inappropriate lines of contact for clients looking for advice as well as resulting in advisers being spammed.

Countdown to the October the 6th GMWRAG meeting in Oldham.

We posted full details of the next GMWRAG meeting as far back as the 12th of July 2017. To save yourself (well, us) some time, you can have a look at that post now.  Everything you need is in there. The date, the time, the place , how to get there and even tentative details of a speaker.

A quick hint. It’s a full day meeting on Friday the 6th of October 2017 (that bit wot is in the title of this post) and you’re still going to have to read that previous post and remember to bring your own minutes from the last meeting.

We’re waiting for final confirmation on our morning speaker but we can confirm that our afternoon speaker will definitely be Vivien Robinson, DWP Partnership Manager, who will be talking about the local roll out of full service Universal Credit from 2:00pm onward.

Some of you may remember that in a previous post we detailed an update to UC roll out and this included the news that Oldham was rolling out from April 2017.

As soon as our a.m. speaker is confirmed the full agenda will be published here.

The next meeting of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group.

The next meeting of the NWMHWRAG will take place on Friday the 29th of September 2017 at 9.30am for 10am start.

We do not have an outside speaker this time, but we will have an information exchange for people to discuss issues/ask questions/canvass others’ opinions on welfare rights issues.

The meeting will be in Room 2001 at Manchester Town Hall.

Robin Serjeant from Manchester City Council will add everyone on the NWMHWRAG mailing list to the attendees of the meeting so that you can access the room.  He will then send an email out with instructions of how to find the room.  If anyone who is not on this mailing list wants to attend the meeting, please let Helen Rogers have their email address.

We look forward to seeing you there.

The next GMWRAG meeting. A date for your diaries/Outlook calendars; scrawls on the back of your hand/post-it notes attached to your PC monitor.

GMWRAG is pleased to announce that our next meeting will take place on Friday the 6th of October 2017 and will be hosted by Oldham Welfare Rights Service in the Lees Suite, Level 2, Civic Centre, West Street Oldham  OL1 1UT. This can be accessed by coming into the building by the Rochdale Road entrance where previous meetings have been held.

Public transport to and from Oldham is straightforward nowadays. Trams run every 12 minutes from Manchester Victoria station and take approximately 23 minutes or less depending on where you get off. You can download Metrolink apps for your smart phone that will give you the same live data as their web site

Those of you with cars can enter the above post code into your sat nav or use a map. GMWRAG also recommends a quick read of Pinpoint by Greg Milner and perhaps turning your sat nav off 🙂

One speaker has already been tentatively secured for this meeting and we’re in the process of securing a second. Agenda details will follow and you should all already be aware that the minutes of the last meeting are already available.

The minutes of the Stockport GMWRAG meeting are now available.

The minutes of the June 2017 GMWRAG meeting which took place in Stockport are now available for download from here and of course you can find them permanently on our Minutes page for which you will of course have the magic password. If you don’t then please either DM @GMWRAGtweets or email a GMWRAG member and they’ll be happy to oblige provided you are willing to delete, set fire to or eat any related communications.

The handouts from the session on hearing impairment and PIP can be found here and the case law pack from the session on sight impairment and DLA/PIP can be found here.

The next GMWRAG meeting is scheduled for Oldham in October 2017 and we’ll post up all the information you’ll need as soon as everything has been finalised.