Greater Manchester Law Centre AGM announced.

GMLOC word cloudAt last year’s GMLC AGM the focus was on the next stage of developing a campaign to fight for access to justice for communities across Greater Manchester. They celebrated the progress that the Law Centre had made and looked forward to expanding our work.

The general election provided opportunities to expand access to justice and to reverse the cuts to legal aid and GMLC highlighted that they had secured funding to develop their advice offer and looked to expand these across Greater Manchester in partnership with others.

The COVID19 crisis broke and everything changed.

They have plans (and funding!!) to expand their services. Come and hear what they are doing and how you can help their work over the coming months.

You are invited to the Annual General Meeting, which will take place via Zoom given the current restrictions on Tuesday 24th November 2019, from 6.00 pm.

The Zoom link for the event is here –

Formally they will receive the Annual Report and Financial Statement and we will be electing “Directors” to become members of the Management Committee. Only members can vote.

Supporters are welcome to attend. Anyone wishing to become a full “member” of the law centre is invited to fill in the form on the website.

UC Taking On The Challenge Conference.

Conference 2020: Universal Credit – Taking on the Challenge

This year Housing Systems will be celebrating its 15th birthday and to celebrate they will be hosting their first ever conference (remotely).

Join Housing Systems on Thursday the 15th of October 2020. They think there’s something for everyone!

Places are limited and with the cost being just £129+vat for a day packed full of great speakers and workshops it’s expected to fill up fast.

Click on the link below for more information on the Workshops and the plan for the day.

North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group Meeting to be rescheduled.

The next meeting of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group was scheduled to take place this Friday, the 25th of September 2020.

A speaker from Disability Services at Chorlton Service Centre has agreed to speak to about PIP but there have been technology issues.

GMWRAG cannot resist the obvious joke about reasonable adjustments at this point!

The rescheduled meeting will continue to be an online meeting. Details once we have them.

Black Friday

So, whilst GMWRAG is fiddling around waiting for services to step forward and host an online GMWRAG meeting or indeed the several we are now owed, NAWRA steals another one of our Fridays once again.

The next NAWRA online conference will take place on Thursday the 10th of September 2020 (1-4pm) and Friday the 11th of September 2020 (9.30am-1pm) on Zoom.

Agenda and booking information coming soon.

NAWRA conferences are free to attend but open to members only.

Find out about joining.

GMWRAG GM UC Forum – a quick reminder for tomorrow.

GMWRAG has “tested the tech” (Microsoft Teams for those of you not paying attention) and we’re happy that we’re all “good to go” for tomorrow afternoon’s resumption of the GMWRAG GM UC Forum at 2:30pm online. 

The agenda for the meeting has previously been published and you’ll be aware we have 2 presentations on UC/deductions and plenty of opportunity for questions. We’ll have plenty of people in attendance but places are still available if you’re a GM welfare rights adviser. Simply email GMWRAG and we’ll send you a meeting request. See also here for the initial announcement of the meeting.

By the time you read this we will have sent out, as previously promised, one final updated meeting request. That doesn’t stop us adding more names if you would like to attend. A link to join the meeting should be within that Meeting Request.

Whilst the meeting kicks off at 2:30pm and we will spend some time going through some basic video meeting etiquette GMWRAG hopes to open things up around 2:15/2:20pm to give everyone a chance to get in on time and sort out (most) technical issues.

Please note that at the end of the meeting we will need to define an agenda and time-scale for the next meeting and we are hopeful there will be one quick final item as the estimable Mr. Dan Manville of GM Law Centre pops in talk about another GMWRAG sub-group – the GMWRAG GM Strategic Casework Group.

NAWRA online presents…’What does the future of advice service delivery look like?’

We’re sure NAWRA isn’t short of takers for any of their events but nevertheless here’s one which could be unmissable. NAWRA online presents…’What does the future of advice service delivery look like?’ Book your place via Eventbrite. This will take place on Thursday the 30th July 2020 from 10am to 12 noon (via Zoom). • What have you learnt from the ‘lockdown’ about different ways of working? What has been positive, what has been less successful, and what have you done to help overcome problems and barriers? • Has your workload changed? Has it increased or reduced? Have the types of enquiries changed? • Has your funding been affected or is likely to be affected in the future? Have you taken on more staff, or lost colleagues? • What do you need to happen so that you feel safe returning to work? What about venues you don’t directly control (e.g. outreach services)? • Are there new ways of working that you will take forward, even when it is ‘safe’ to return to office working? • How will you hold team meetings, training and similar events in future? On 30th July, you can join colleagues from across the UK to discuss these, and other issues, as part of our latest NAWRA online event. The session will open with a brief outline of the key issues from our Chair, Alan Markey, and from NAWRA committee member Corin Hammersley. Alan will look at these issues from the perspective of his own charity, Coventry Independent Advice Service, and Corin will look at things from a local authority welfare rights perspective. We will then break into small groups to discuss these topics and share experiences, coming back together at the end for a feedback session. We are sure that everyone present will take away something from the event that will be useful in their own workplace. We are keen for members to volunteer to lead the group discussions and feedback to the main session from their group. If you would like to volunteer for this in advance, please let us know by emailing Book your place via Eventbrite. As always, NAWRA events are open to members only. As always GMWRAG is suspicious about what Coventry Advice knew before us. Their web url is, Hmm. GMWRAG is also of the view that Zoom is best used for getting drunk online and whilst we won’t of course be encouraging you to do this during the NAWRA meeting please watch this space for a proposed GMWRAG social.

Agenda now available for the GMWRAG GM UC Video Meeting on the 22nd of July 2020.

Further to our recent post about the next GMWRAG GM UC Forum which will take place as an MS Teams video meeting on Wednesday the 22nd of July 2020 at 2:30pm until approximately 4pm.

GMWRAG members will hopefully need little reminder that the sole topic for this meeting is deductions from UC.

The agenda for the meeting is now available and will broadly run as follows:

Welcome and Meeting Protocol/Ground Rules – Mike Hughes, Salford Welfare Rights and Debt Advice Service.

Introduction to the deductions issue – Penny Applegate, Bolton Partnership Manager.

Universal Credit Deductions Policy – Craig Dutton, UC Policy Design.

a. How deductions policy works.
b. Inability to predict the actual amount of UC that will be paid.
c. Non Affordability.

Historic deductions – Katy Costello, Deductions Operations.

Question and answer session.

Next meeting timings and agenda to be agreed.

Please note that, as per the last post, anyone wanting to attend this meeting needs to let us know ideally no later than the 15th of July 2020.

There is no limit on the number of attendees but if we can’t send you a Teams meeting invite then unfortunately you won’t be able to attend. Please see the previous post linked to above in order to register for the meeting. 

We look forward to seeing and hearing you all on the 22nd.

Housing Systems online workshop on “Lost Job? Benefits during COVID-19”.

Sadly, many people have lost their jobs during the Coronavirus outbreak. With changes to the Job Retention Scheme that mean employers will have to contribute more towards their employees’ wages, we may well see even more.

We have already heard that many of those finishing work have lost out financially due to being given the wrong benefit advice.

This interactive case study based Workshop will answer all the key questions:

Is Universal Credit someone’s only option? Is it their best option?
How do the different payments at the end of a job affect benefit entitlement?

What if someone can get New Style Jobseekers Allowance?

The Workshop will use real life examples to investigate the key benefits someone finishing work can claim, what claimants need to do and the problems they may encounter.

By the end of the Workshop delegates will have a better understanding of the different benefits available to someone finishing work, what options they may have and what they should consider when choosing which option is best for them.

The workshop takes place on the Wednesday the 17th of June 2020 between 10am – and 12 noon. It costs £49+vat per delegate. Bookings can be made by emailing Housing Systems at

They will need:

  • The name of the Workshop you would like to book.
  • The date of your chosen Workshop.
  • The name and job title of the delegate.
  • Their email address.
  • Invoice details ie who to send it to (and any PO number required).

NOTE: Bookings will be taken on a first come first served basis.

NAWRA and Stoke-on-line.

Pandemics do strange things to people. Never did GMWRAG think we’d mention Stoke and yoga in any post let alone together but there you go. The NAWRA conference in Stoke on Trent will no longer take place at Staffordshire University due to the COVID-19 situation. However, they are pleased to announce a special online event. On Thursday the 11th of June 2020 and Friday the 12th of June 2020 NAWRA will present ‘Stoke-on-Line’ – a virtual version of their planned conference with guest speakers, workshops, information exchange, pub quiz and yoga. GMWRAG does agree online is probably the best place to put Stoke but, if you’re still interested… read the agenda for both days and book a place on each session. The events will take place on Zoom. Email Kelly at NAWRA if you need help to use Zoom and she can send some instructions. This event is open to NAWRA members only. Kelly Smith Secretary and Treasurer