Greater Manchester Poverty Action.

GMWRAG has previously posted useful information from GM Poverty Action but, with our customary brilliance, wholly forgot to add a link to their web site. This has now been remedied and it can be found in the appropriate sections down the right hand side of every page on our web site. For those of you who don’t know your left from your right it can be found over here ⇔. Alternatively you can always try typing https://www.gmpovertyaction.org

The latest edition of their excellent newsletter is also available and can be downloaded from here. GMWRAGs attention was especially drawn to the Manchester Sleepout at Manchester Cathedral on the 9th of November 2018 to raise funds and awareness to support people experiencing homelessness in Manchester.

Last year, 400 people braved the cold and rain to raise a stunning £120,000! This year, they are asking you to help them smash that figure. Sleep out for one night so others don’t have to every night. Register now. The Early Bird rate of just £15 is available until Friday the 31st of August 2018. GMWRAG has excellent recent history in raising the profile of those taking part in such events and, much more importantly, using that raised profile to boost the funds they’re able to raise.

If you are taking part please let GMWRAG know and we’ll be happy to give you some free publicity in order to generate extra monies.

See here for the Sleepout FAQ.

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What Do They Know?

GMWRAG is pleased to announce that we now have an account with the excellent “WhatDoTheyKnow?” web site. We’re easy enough to find. Just do a search for the word “GMWRAG” and up we’ll pop along with our very first question to a public authority. You will be shocked to learn this is the DWP.

We’re sure most GMWRAG members know exactly what “WhatDoTheyKnow?” does but in case you don’t we’ll save ourselves some time by directing you to their FAQ page.

If any GMWRAG members wish to use the account to ask a welfare rights related question of a public authority whilst remaining anonymous please Contact GMWRAG and we’ll be happy to help. Please note this is not a service we will make available to advisers outside our geographical area nor anyone whose identity we cannot verify.

Our first request relates to a recent tweet from Neil Couling CBE, the Director General of the Universal Credit Programme. You can read all about it at “WhatDoTheyKnow?” but also by following @GMWRAGTweets and @NeilCouling.

GMWRAG will let you know the outcome of the request as soon as we have it.

A big(ger) read than you’re used to having had your minds rotted by social media (allegedly).

Take a breath GMWRAG readers and prepare for another big but rewarding read.

Follow the link at http://truepublica.org.uk/united-kingdom/research-paper-state-crime-by-proxy-corporate-influence-on-state-sanctioned-social-harm to read a June 2018 paper titled “State Crime By Proxy: Corporate Influence on State Sanctioned Social Harm”. This is an interesting take on welfare reform in the UK. Whilst the usual caveats apply i.e. you are especially daft if you think GMWRAG endorses or totally accepts every word we link you to on any subject (we think “especially daft” was what the solicitor told us to say!)  we do think much of the factual content of this article is essential background for anyone interested in welfare reform and especially (hopefully) welfare rights officers even if we don’t necessarily agree with all the inferences and conclusions.

When we say “big”, the article claims to take 15 minutes to read. That’s not really big unless social media has actually rotted your brain and its ability to concentrate. We actually think it takes a tad longer but that’s only because we’re not very good at counting.

GMWRAG, having failed miserably to give immediate credit to our colleagues at Rightsnet for their huge part in our recent UC item, would like to give credit to the GMWRAG member who brought this item to our attention. He They wishes (oops) to remain anonymous so we have agreed to refer to them as a kindly old gent who has a thing about cars. That isn’t what their colleague said but you get the gist.

Refining Advicelocal

GMWRAG members, we would like to think, should by now be familiar with the Advicelocal web site run by LASA.  We’ve been asked by the latter to assist with getting the site noticed by search engines and, to that end, you’ll notice new links to the site have appeared down the right side of every GMWRAG page you view.

This is also a good opportunity for GMWRAG to practice what we preach.

So, the preachy bit… please have a look at Advicelocal and test out the functionality. Like most things, it can only improve its accuracy with decent feedback. There’s a contact form on the web site and it couldn’t be easier to use.

The practicey bit…  GMWRAG is about to undertake our occasional, annual, biannual, when we can be bothered trawl of said links on our web site and we’ll be doing updates where possible but weeding out and deleting dead links when we can. If as a consequence of this a link to your organisation disappears and you think this is wrong please, please let us know and we’ll be more than happy to post up any new links you have.

Second presentation from the January 2018 GMWRAG meeting in Salford.

Matt Ahluwalia from PLPA quick update on the p.m. presentation from Matt Ahluwalia from the Public Law Project talking about RF. As you will be aware this was successfully streamed live from Periscope and by the end of the day of the meeting it had been viewed more than 120 times, which we consider excellent for a first go.

The broadcast itself was available for replay to midnight on the day of the meeting.Whilst we initially hoped to have this permanently available by via YouTube it was suggested that this may prejudice future legal action so we are sorry but we will not be posting a link to the full 1 hour 9 minute recording.  We have been able to post the accompanying screen shot and we will be able to give you a 1 minute taste of the presentation (again via YouTube) but the only permanent record will be the partial transcription/summary included as part of the minutes when we have finished them.

Matt was anticipating a DWP appeal on his desk upon his return to London but obviously events have moved on apace and our notes will hopefully reflect this. Watch this space for the minutes.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all those whose consent we required to make the live stream possible in the first place. We had a packed room morning and afternoon and, if nothing else, we have learned that live broadcast onto t’internet is definitely the way to get a GMWRAG meeting to behave! That one has definitely been noted for future reference 🙂

GMWRAG goes 21st century and live streams/records from our Salford meeting, or falls flat on our face trying.

Considerable interest has been shown in our speakers this Friday but we’re aware that, as ever, a number of people won’t be able to make the meeting because of other commitments. For this reason we’ve decided to take the plunge and see if we can either record our afternoon speaker and get the recording up onto YouTube and/or broadcast a live stream via Periscope.

Even GMWRAG is fairly confident on the YouTube front that most of you will figure out how to find us on there post meeting. If everything works as planned we’ll have a video to view sometime during the days after the meeting and we’ll obviously post a link to it from this site.

Less of you may be familiar with Periscope. If you are on their web site or download an app for your snartphone or tablet you’ll be able to watch our speaker, Matthew Ahluwalia, from the Public Law Project. talking about the role of PLP in RF v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions; what the decision means and what happens or is likely to happen next, from approximately 2:30pm onwards on Friday.

If we get our Settings right the video will also be available for replay later the same day. However, during the live broadcast viewers can type questions for the speaker via the Periscope web site or apps and receive answers as fast as we can get the questions to the speaker via our chair, note taker, IT guru etc. A hopefully truly interactive experience. You can also send “hearts” to show your love for GMWRAG but we’ll not talk about that.

Find us on Periscope as @GMWRAGtweets and on YouTube as GMWRAG Manchester. Please create an account in good time for the broadcast on the former. You can use your existing social media accounts like Facebook to login.

So, this will either work beautifully, intermittently or not at all. We stress once again that, we cannot guarantee the broadcast will work so we’d rather you were at the meeting if you could be.

Oh dear!

A small number of you who were very quick off the mark will have downloaded a GMWRAG agenda which suggests the date of the meeting is today. This was obviously incorrect and was caused by either

  • the agenda template having an auto-update date which always shows “today” as the date depending on which day you open it, or
  • a web author with a head cold.
  • gross incompetence.

The error on the original link has now been fixed and should not reoccur. The author in question has been heartily slapped.

The correct link is also here.

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.

Small but significant.

It’s only small thing but we here at GMWRAG think it’s significant. The numbers who view this latest iteration of the GMWRAG web site grew steadily from its creation in the latter third of 2009. From 5,468 in 2010 through to a peak of 12,261 in 2013.

Since then there has been a noticeable steady decline which we absolutely associate with the cuts to advice across Greater Manchester which have been made during the past 3 years. There are less of you and so logically less of you will be looking at us.

This downward trend and the reasons for it were reflected in other ways too. For example, we had a long drought of job vacancy adverts. Authors slowly drifted away as their jobs disappeared or became so overloaded that something had to give. This year, for the first time since 2013 we are pleased to report an upturn on several fronts. The number of jobs we have advertised has risen. The number of posts we have posted has risen. The site has grown again and is about to sprout further wings/new section/pages very soon.

We were hoping to report an upturn in numbers but we were devastated to learn that the number of site views for 2016 fell exactly 1 short of 2015. That said, this is also hugely significant as the year on year decline has well and truly been arrested and for the first time since 2013 things are holding steady or looking up. More jobs for you to peruse imminently too.

Now, about 2017…