The minutes of the last NWMHWRAG meeting plus associated documents are now available for download.

Long post. Loadsa good stuff.

The minutes of the last meeting of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group are now available for download from here and in due course (give us a minute) from their pages within the GMWRAG site.

GMWRAG was quite upset to discover that since the NWMHWRAG pages migrated to this site in 2011 not one person has noticed that the section was erroneously titled the North West Mental Health Advisers Welfare Rights Group and not the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group. WHO was not paying attention? All of you apparently!

The People’s Front of Judea are most upset. Eats, Shoots and Leaves indeed! Other documents from the meeting can be downloaded from below but also from the now correctly titled section. Anything else you’re not telling us?

GMWRAG sometimes gets asked how one joins such an exclusive club or “old boys clique” as we recently were amused to hear it described. We’re thinking of adopting the passing of a UC quiz as the entry requirement.

Suffice to say we’ll be asking the (mostly female) Principal Officers of Welfare Rights services across GM to withdraw from GMWRAG anyone heard spouting such inanities especially given that attendance at GMWRAG meeting is fairly evenly divided between the sexes but if anything skewed well away from “old boys”.

In the meantime, we have been handed some late-breaking corrections to some of the above and we detail these below, which goes to prove that there is occasionally some value in being tardy!

“On the minutes – slight correction needed to this bit

Note differences to shared accommodation rules for over 35s, under
occupancy (non dependant couples get two rooms, overnight carers not dependant on SDP)

It should say something like this –

Note differences to shared accommodation rules –

  • single over 35s – get one bedroom rate even if chosen to live in shared accommodation
  • single under 35s – exemption from shared accommodation rate not dependent on SDP (just on the disability benefit – ie PIP DL / DLA mid/high care etc)

under occupancy –

  • non dependant couples get two rooms,
  • overnight carers – stricter than HB – person needing care must be getting disability benefit –  PIP DL / DLA mid/high care etc)

Second thing –

When we were discussing the protection on death rules & no bedroom tax for 3 months,  it was asked if – when a non dependant dies – whether the non-dep deduction would still apply.

The speaker said they thought not – but since had a look to see if there are any Regs/guidance to confirm that!

Reg 37

Reg 37 image

 

 

 

 

This is what the guidance says – Guidance image 2

 

 

 

Guidance image 1

 

 

 

It does not make sense to say that a non-dep who has died should still be making their contribution to the tenant (that is the theory of non-dep deductions isn’t it? ie that the non-dep should pay something towards the cost of the roof over their head – unless exempt). There will be no non-dep income.

Also if the exemption was due to non-dep’s PIP daily living etc – that would have stopped.

So we think this is a mistake/omission.”

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Presentations from Everyday Equality are now available for download.

Alan Turing banner at LGBT Foundation in ManchesterGMWRAG is very pleased to say that all of our speakers at the recent Everyday Equality Act have now provided us with their presentations from the event for download. We also have a bonus presentation from Ryan Bradshaw of Leigh Day which was not available on the day.

Please note:

  • there are no minutes available for the January 2019 meeting. There were 14 speakers and the presentations below represent all the content available from the event bar images posted by @GMWRAGTweets and other attendees.
  • a number of presentations have been subsequently updated or revised by speakers. The versions on this site represent the most up to date versions.
  • all presentations are detailed below in this post but will be permanently available on our “Presentations and notes from GMWRAG meetings” page.
  • The minutes which would ordinarily be on our “Minutes” page link to the above page.
  • Some of the presentations have similar titles. Please be assured that all presentations are distinct. No content is repeated.

Jo Chimes, whose magnificent work was pretty much solely responsible for making the whole day happen, has also kindly added her own summary of the take away messages from the event and we’ve added that as well..

An update on the GMWRAG archives.

GMWRAG has been quietly digitally archiving our past for around 7 of the 10 years existence of this site. As our history is long and convoluted there is no single archive location so this may not be immediately obvious to site viewers as much of the material can be found buried in sub-menus in related sections. We long ago decided that, for example, NWMHWRAG archives could be buried/located in their section of the site and so on. Most of our archive is inevitably minutes but you will also find plenty to entertain you in our training and presentations links associated with those minutes.

The GMWRAG archive is about to grow considerably as we have obtained 4 boxes worth of material stretching back to the late 1980s. For the first time we have much more than minutes and agendas and we’ll be posting these up over a period of many months rather than weeks.

However, this is a long process and there is no single location where you will immediately notice the growth. This site is maintained on goodwill and obviously there are limits to the amount of scanning, uploading and writing which can be done in the working week and (yes) outside of working hours. However, watch this space as the depth and breadth of the site content will grow during 2019 like never before.

In the meantime, if you have any documents (paper or digital) which you would like to donate to the GMWRAG digital archive please Contact GMWRAG and we’ll happily (within reason) take them off your hands and add them to the list of things to be digitally archived.

It would however help us immensely if you could check out the site first and weed out any duplicates before handing over your documents. Thank you.

Tracking FOI requests from or on behalf of GMWRAG.

Research panel links.GMWRAG previously advised members of our WhatDoTheyKnow account back in August 2018 with an entertaining exchange with the DWP which ultimately resulted in the presence of Neil Couling at our October 2018 meeting in Trafford.

We’d like to remind GMWRAG members that this account is available for any of you to make benefits related FOI requests either on behalf of GMWRAG or anonymously under the umbrella of GMWRAG.

If you have particular requests please Contact GMWRAG and we can agree appropriate wording. In the meantime you can easily view those requests which have been made by using the quick link below.

A permanent link to this list can be found in the links panel to the right of every page on the site under Research. See the ridiculously blurry panel to the left if you’re not sure what we’re talking about.

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/user/gmwrag#foi_requests

Minutes of the last NWMHWRAG meeting are now available for download.

The minutes of the last (November 2018) meeting of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group (NWMHWRAG) are now available for download from here.

The minutes are all available in posts like this but the minutes page itself hasn’t been updated since July 2018. GMWRAG apologises for their being a bit of a lag getting these up on the NWMHWRAG pages but we’ll be fixing this asap.

In the meantime NWMHWRAG members should watch their Inbox for news about the next GMWRAG meeting. We’re hoping to have full details with you before the end of the week.

A record (legal) high.

That moment when you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

GMWRAG has inevitably suffered along with our members over the past few years of austerity as we’ve seen member organisations and well-respected individual members find themselves on the wrong end of significant cuts and areas of Greater Manchester and indeed the North West of England become advice deserts. During the past 5 years we have worked hard to maintain the usefulness of our site and group but it has been a battle. The number of views tell their own story. Back in 2013 we hit a peak of 12,261 views over the whole year but this dropped dramatically a year later to 11,346 and we have done well to keep numbers over 9,000 in the intervening years.

Whilst austerity is still being foisted on many of our members with the inevitable consequences on both them and their clients it does seem as though things have stabilised to some extent and there’s some small belated recognition that advice saves more money than it will ever consume. Good to read therefore about proposals to build more law centres and to see some services which have struggled in recent years holding steady.

Over here at GMWRAG HQ we’ve been pleased to note that our numbers are back on the rise and significantly so. Our views for this year already significantly exceed those for each of the past 3 years and are currently the 3rd highest in our history and rising. Additionally we have just exceeded 1,000 view per month for 4 times in a row for the 1st time in our history.

In part this is clearly a reflection of the sheer volume we have been posting but it’s also clear that it’s also a measure of the fact many of you are still out there and thriving and the concern about those issues about which we have posted e.g. Universal Credit.

We’d also like to thank many of you for being “social” and sharing our many ramblings across social meejah. You’ve shared our posts 8,180 times over the past 9 years including Facebook 1,434 times. Interestingly you’ve shared our stuff 1,326 times on Reddit (no, us neither) and on Twitter a mere 928 times.

Amusingly our most shared post was one on something which did not come to pass (the transfer of AA to local authority funding). Perhaps depressingly the single most viewed thing on our site (after the home page) is our copy of the ESA 3 change of circumstances form.

Some people do actually think there is a GMWRAG HQ! We think we could get them PIP!

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.

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.