Book now for the 27th of May *ONLINE* Money Advice Group Meeting!

Given the nature of this crisis, the MAG planning group has considered what to do about future meetings of the group. The health and safety of group members, and of those who host MAG meetings, is of paramount importance, and this is why they have decided to move to an online format for the foreseeable future.

They have also decided to bring the date of the meeting forward, and it is likely that meetings will be more frequent given that it is now, arguably, easier and convenient for members to take part, and also because of the urgency of the situation advisers and clients face.

We are therefore pleased to provide details of the next Greater Manchester Money Advice Group, which will take place on Wednesday the 27th of May 2020.

The meeting will be facilitated by Payplan, who have offered use of their video conferencing system ‘Fuze’. They will email participants joining instructions in due course, but please note, you do not have to use the video facility to take part if you do not wish to: you can spectate and use audio/chat facilities to communicate if you prefer. There is a limit of 1,000 participants using this system, so they are not bound by the usual capacity constraints!

The theme of the meeting is, of course, ‘Covid-19 and Debt Advice’.

In the morning, we will be joined by Alistair Chisholm (Payplan), with a ‘sector’ update – what’s going on with creditors, clients and households?

Next up will be Bob Winnington (MALG): ‘Managing the present and preparing for the future’ on the work MALG has carried out with partners in the credit and advice industry during the current crisis

Our last speaker will be Joseph Surtees (Cabinet Office), with an update on the government response to Covid-19.

Recognising that long video conferences are not easy to attend, after the speakers, there will be a suitably long break for 2 hours, before reconvening for the afternoon session.

The afternoon session will be an opportunity to discuss the morning speakers, plus a chance to exchange information and discuss Covid-19 and the debt crisis.

You can join/leave the video conference at any point, but MAG hope you will appreciate the opportunity to network and share your experiences of the situation we find ourselves in and what the future holds for our clients and ourselves

Your early contributions for the info exchange/social policy session are invited if you either cannot attend and want feedback and/or wish the issues to be raised on your behalf. Please also send any observations you wish the meeting to discuss about matters arising from the most recent Shelter update, the Citizens Advice update and anything in the IMA’s Quarterly Account.

The MAG are grateful to Payplan for offering the use of their video conference system for this meeting. They feel that this was the best offer open to the group, which minimises cost, has no realistic constraints on the size of the meeting, and is safe and secure.

You can book a place for this meeting using this link https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/greater-manchester-money-advice-group-covid-19-debt-advice-tickets-103709778740 or you can let Richard Holland know directly. The agenda will be updated at this link, as necessary.

It goes without saying that lunch will not be provided at this meeting!

Shall we be nice to NAWRA? Yes, lets’s be nice to NAWRA.

Following on from our recent post cancelling the May GMWRAG meeting the details of how to book on the NAWRA online event have now been brought to our attention by 5 lovely people in about 5 minutes so we thought the decent thing to do would be to tell you that before all places have been grabbed.

In order to register for a place you simply use this link. 

You must be a NAWRA member in order to book a place.

GMWRAG will of course be Zoom bombing in protest at the clash of dates 🙂

Meeting cancellation (sort of) – number 2.

The next GMWRAG meeting was listed for Friday the 15th of May 2020. Previous posts on the meeting can be found here and here.

This included the a.m. GM UC Forum which this time around was to have a focus solely on deductions. Obviously, recent events have rendered this never more relevant but things are moving fast on multiple fronts and the logical thing to do at present is to cancel and reschedule the meeting asap. 

The reasoning for this is as follows:

1 – our full day meetings now clash with a special Covid-19 NAWRA event online with two interactive workshops focusing on the current benefit changes, homeworking issues and dealing with new ways of working. Read the agenda. It’s not obvious how you join (so if someone could tell us, that would be good).

2 – Friday is not ordinarily a working day for a number of GM Partnership Managers and obviously we would like as many as possible in the room.

3 – Taking the meeting online requires finding applications that allows DWP to appear remotely but also allows access forGMWRAG members. That’s not an issue we have fully resolved yet although we’ll be polling members on some options asap to move that forward.

4 – Advance notice of the meeting has (for once) allowed DWP to contact specialist colleagues in Deductions Operations to attend but the latter have been re-deployed to other tasks in the same way as Partnership teams. Thus July would be the earliest feasible time to do this.

GMWRAG will happily apologise for the lateness of the cancellation and would ask all members to complete the various polls on key questions about how we move forward which we’ll post up as soon as time allows.

Stay safe and well.

Meeting cancellation – number 1.

GMWRAG apologies for the delay in getting posts such as this out. We are aware that NWMHWRAG mailing list members will know this already but other GMWRAG members may not.

Unfortunately, this is the first of two cancellations we need to tell you about. We’re hopeful the second post will come out today but it’s entirely dependent upon factors outside our control at present.

As the restrictions due to Covid-19 are still in place, we need to cancel the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group meeting planned for the 29th of May 2020.

Our speaker, Susan Perry from DWP Disability Services, has agreed to rearrange for the 25th of September 2020.

We have a meeting scheduled for the 31st of July 2020. This will go ahead if restrictions have been lifted by then.

URGENT: North West Mental Health WRAs Group meeting has been cancelled and re-arranged.

The meeting of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group on the 27th March 2020 has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The speaker, Susan Perry, Team Leader at DWP Disability Services, has agreed to re-schedule for Friday the 29th of May 2020.

This meeting remains at 9.30am for 10am at Greater Manchester Law Centre as per our previous post.

A reminder and further confirmation nearer the time.

GMWRAG meetings part 2.

You may have been expecting the next GMWRAG post to be something about Covid-19. It is not (much).

Further to our recent post re: the next meeting of the NWMHWRAG we have been advised by Greater Manchester Law Centre via Twitter that they will “get the kettle on”. Better still the email which told us that all those complex instructions on how to get there – “press a buzzer and wait for someone to let you in.” – can be superseded as “The buzzer’s broke; just let yourselves in.”. We’re not sure this is the safest advice but go with it and see what happens.

GMWRAG takes no responsibility for people stood outside like lemons waiting for something to happen.

Those of you awaiting confirmation that the next GMWRAG meeting is cancelled will have to wait a little longer. At present, the meeting proceeds on the 15th of May 2020 albeit that our intended speaker @citizenbradshaw has been told to step down by his wife because he’s on holiday. Yes, you really did just read that correctly 🙂

A replacement speaker (also from Leigh Day) has been tentatively sorted by the kind Mr. Bradshaw so at present we’re all systems go for both the GM UC meeting and the pm GMWRAG meeting.

More meetings for GMWRAG members.

The next meeting of the NWMHWRAG will be on Friday the 27th of March 2020 at 9.30am for a 10am start.

The speaker will be Susan Perry, Team Leader in Disability Services at Chorlton Service Centre. She will be talking about Personal Independence Payment. They aim to finish by 1pm.

The meeting will be at Greater Manchester Law Centre, 667-669 Stockport Rd, Levenshulme, Manchester, M12 4QE.

The centre is on the A6 between (little) Asda and Crowcroft Park.
There is a car park at the centre.

192 bus from Piccadilly Gardens.
The centre is on left as you head south out of town on the A6, between Crowcroft Park and (little) Asda.

Train from to Levenshulme Station.
As you come out of the train station, turn left onto Albert Road, then turn left again at the T-junction with Stockport Road.

The Law Centre is a short walk north (ie towards the city centre) on your right, shortly after you pass Asda.

The centre is the smaller of the two buildings. When you arrive you need to press a buzzer and wait for someone to let you in.

Ipswich, Bolton, Dead Parrots and the resurrection of the “northerly” GMWRAG Strategic Casework Group.

Many GMWRAG members looked forward enthusiastically to meetings of our Strategic Casework Group. Indeed, the last entry on the SCG pages (until today)looked forward to the GMWRAG meeting on 16th June 2017! Sadly, thanks to life getting in the way of the steering group, the wheels fell off. However this parrot is not quite dead:

Greater Manchester Law Centre are hoping to breathe life into the Norwegian Blue once more and propose a meeting to plot a way forward on Tuesday the 28th of April 2020 at, 9.30am, at the Law Centre, above the Jain Community Centre, 669 Stockport Rd, Levenshulme, Manchester M12 4QE.

Anyone interested would be wise to email danmanville@gmlaw.org.uk so Dan can keep an eye on the numbers; it’s not a huge room!

We’re hoping to create a more northerly focus to the group going forward so please don’t be put off by the Greater Manchester badging…

See you there.

And just like that… more GMWRAG meetings.

GMWRAG is pleased to confirm that our next meetings can already be confirmed as definite. This magnificent piece of organisation comes to you largely courtesy of people talking across other people and mumbling stuff during last weeks first post millennium trip to Bury. This may also explain why we’ve managed to announce the next meeting without actually getting notes written up from the last one as yet. Fear not. We’re “on it” whatever “it” may be.

The next GMWRAG UC Forum and GMWRAG meeting will both be hosted by Manchester and will take place on Friday the 15th of May 2020 at Greater Manchester Law Centre. Instructions on how to get as lost as several of us did in Bury will follow in due course.

The UC Forum will commence at 9:30 for refreshments/networking for a 10am start with a 12:30pm finish. The agenda has already been defined as follows:

1 Apologies.

2 Minutes of the last meeting and matters arising.

3 Deductions from Universal Credit.

4 Messages around mixed age couples.

There is plenty of time available for this agenda to accommodate additional items but we’re planning on asking for someone from Debt Recovery and the UC Service Centre to attend in service of item 3 and someone from the Pension Service in respect of item 4 so that might be more than enough to be going on with.

Nevertheless please Contact GMWRAG through the usual channels if you wish to do so (or we forgot something).

The main GMWRAG meeting will start at 1:30pm for refreshments/networking for a 2pm start and a 4pm finish.

Our speaker will be Ryan Bradshaw, Associate Solicitor from Leigh Day. At present the likely topic will be “Challenging welfare benefits decisions using the European Convention on Human Rights and the sorts of compensation that might be awarded.”

Again though, things move on quickly in the magical world of welfare rights so this is a movable feast and there may be something Ryan could do which might be more pertinent to the timing of the meeting depending on what happens over the next couple of months.

The rest of the agenda is up for grabs so if you have a suggestion for other agenda items or even a second speaker then, again, please Contact GMWRAG through the usual routes.

The notes/minutes of the last meeting will be available as soon as enough of us have pooled resources/spoken to each other to remember what might have happened. That’s two months advance notice that you can print your own and bring them with you by the way!