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.

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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…

Happy Christmas from GMWRAG

At this time of year GMWRAG pontificates on the year passing and hopes for better to come. So, here we are again. We’re not sure attempting to summarise this year in terms of welfare rights is the best approach. David Bowie died; Donald Trump became POTUS in waiting: Britain voted to leave Europe and Iain Duncan Smith ended the year thinking he’s on the same side as us. GMWRAG is not sure there is anything we can add to that so we’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all the best Christmas you can have and a peaceful 2017. The word “prosperous” doesn’t seem appropriate.

We’ll see you on the other side. Try and pretend it’s just a dream…

DWP Christmas and New Year information now out.

We have attached the two fliers from DWP advising first of all when payments will be made over the forthcoming week and opening times for the Christmas and New Year period.

Whilst we hesitate to suggest there are green shoots of recovery we note that GMWRAG has been able to advertise job vacancies with relative regularity for the first time in a good while. We’re also confident that, by the time you’ve read this, and for the first time since 2013, numbers visiting the site have risen. There has been a slow but noticeable decline which we associate with the plain simple fact there have been less of us doing the work. That decline is now over and will be further arrested when we unleash our new section (which some of you may have already noticed) imminently.

If you stare at this page for long enough (not long in reality) then the GMWRAG site will of course start snowing for you (although we like to think it’s weeping at welfare reform!) so GMWRAG would like to of course take this opportunity to wish our members a peaceful Christmas and all the best for 2017.

Minutes of that!

The minutes of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group (apparently it’s NOT called the “NWMHWRAGOWTFDTM) for November 2016 are now available for download from here. Their web pages have been updated accordingly.

We have been made aware that some minutes are AWOL from 2016. These can still be found via a search (now we’ve found the “search” option again) and we’ll attempt to fix this as soon as the opportunity arises.