New job advert on the GMWRAG web site.

The following post has also been added to our job vacancies page.

Tameside Council

STRONGER COMMUNITIES

CUSTOMER CARE AND ADVOCACY

WELFARE BENEFITS AND DEBT ADVICE SUPERVISOR

Grade H: £29,323 – £32,486 per annum

36 hours per week, Permanent

Located at: Clarence Arcade, Stamford Street, Ashton under Lyne, OL6 7PT

Tameside MBC has a well-established Welfare Rights & Debt Advice Service.

A vacancy has arisen for a welfare benefits and debt advice supervisor.

We are looking for an individual with particular experience in delivering welfare benefits advice at a specialist level including experience of representing clients at social security appeals. Knowledge around specialist debt advice, in particular around rent and mortgage possessions in preventing homelessness is also a requirement of the post as you will be supervising a multi-disciplinary team of both debt and benefits advisers.

As this is a supervisory post, you will need to have significant experience of supervising staff, ideally in an advice setting. You will be responsible for ensuring that high quality advice is being provided through supervision, file review and peer review processes. You will also oversee workflow into the service to ensure that residents are supported with benefits and debt advice issues.

You must have an ordered approach to casework with excellent inter-personal skills with the ability to work under pressure.

You will need excellent organisational and supervisory skills and be able to demonstrate experience of providing support or advice to the public including vulnerable people.

If you would like to discuss any aspects of the post, please contact Janine Yates, Team Manager on 0161 342 3494.

This role is a designated customer facing role under the fluency duty and requires a specified level of spoken English in the person specification.

Reference No: ADV754

Contract: permanent
Working hours: full-time
Closing date: 11:59pm on the 26th of October 2017
Interviews: to be confirmedJob Description/Person Specification.doc

The application process is managed through Greater Jobs and you will need to create an account and/or login on that site in order to be able to commence the application process.
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Next meeting of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group – Questions for the DWP.

The next meeting of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group (NWMHWRAG) takes place on Friday the 24th of November 2017 as detailed on their pages within the GMWRAG site. Minutes of the last meeting remain available for download but we’d like to remind attendees that the November meeting should include a session with DWP Partnership Managers for full service Universal Credit areas. NWMHWRAG are asking for questions in advance in order to minimise the need for questions to be “taken back”.

Questions should be directed to Helen Rogers at Stockport by no later than Wednesday the 1st of November 2017. This does not prevent questions being asked on the day. It just maximises the chances of having full answers on the day.

Attendees should already know how to contact Helen. GMWRAG is generally reluctant to put contact details such as email addresses and phone numbers on this site as we have history on this opening up inappropriate lines of contact for clients looking for advice as well as resulting in advisers being spammed.

Work and Pensions Committee launches inquiry into effectiveness of PIP and ESA assessments.

The Work and Pensions Committee has launched an inquiry into the effectiveness of personal independence payment (PIP) and employment and support allowance (ESA) assessments. They are seeking recommendations for change on the assessment process for each benefit individually, and to hear about common lessons that can be learned from the two processes, the Committee invites submissions over three main areas:

Assessors and assessments –

  • whether contractor assessors possess sufficient expertise to carry out assessments for people with a wide range of health conditions;
    • whether the DWP’s quality control for contractors is sufficient and effective;
    • whether the options for reforming the work capability assessment mooted in the government’s Improving Lives green paper should be taken forward; and
    • what examples of best practice in assessing eligibility for benefits are available internationally, and whether they are transferable to ESA and/or PIP.
  • Mandatory reconsideration and appeal –
    • the reasons why claimants seek to overturn initial assessment outcomes for ESA and/or PIP;
    • the reasons why levels of disputed decisions are higher for PIP than for ESA;
    • whether the mandatory reconsideration process is working well for claimants of ESA and/or PIP;
    • the reasons for the rate of overturned decisions at appeal for PIP and/or ESA;
    • whether there are lessons that could be learned from the ESA mandatory reconsideration and appeal process for PIP and vice-versa; and
    • whether there are changes that could be made earlier in the process to ensure fewer claimants feel they need to appeal.
  • Claimant experiences –
    • whether prospective claimants currently understand the purpose of the assessment;
    • in what way could claimants be helped to better understand the assessment process;
    • whether there are some groups of claimants particularly likely to encounter problems with their assessments – and if so, how can this be addressed; and
    • whether the assessment processes for PIP and ESA should be more closely integrated, and other ways the processes might be streamlined for claimants.

The Committee is seeking written submissions by the 10th of November 2017 and also invites claimants who have had an assessment, or are waiting for an assessment, to submit a comment on its web forum.

For more information see Are PIP and ESA Assessments working well? from parliament.uk

Research on the impact of Universal Credit on advice agencies.

From the latest Institute of Money Advisers (IMA) bulletin:

As part of his masters in Social Welfare Law, Policy, and Advice Practice, IMA member Tom Barrett is researching the impact that Universal Credit is having on advice agencies, and their ability to manage this impact. To gather the data for this research he is conducting a short survey that should take around eight minutes to complete.

It would be much appreciated if GMWRAG members could complete the survey. It can be found here at

https://staffordshire.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9YSJ9Z9vPjzChut

Minutes of the latest North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group meeting.

The minutes of the latest meeting of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group (NWMHWRAG) are now available for download.

Additional to this a number of useful documents have been circulated around the idea that renewals are effectively supersessions and therefore a decision maker and/or tribunal cannot make a decision without referencing what has changed since the original decision. In support of this we give you

CDLA 5196/2001

SF v SSWP (PIP) [2016] UKUT 481

and a model submission courtesy of Nick Smith of Manchester Advice Appeals team.

Although this will be relevant to all GMWRAG members we have uploaded the first two of the above to the “relevant case law” page, which resides within the NWMHWRAG section of this site so they can be permanently referenced without having to search through posts.

Agenda and speakers for next weeks GMWRAG meeting in Oldham.

The agenda for next weeks GMWRAG meeting in Oldham is now available and can be downloaded by clicking on this link. Everything else you need can be found in our previous posts yesterday and back in July 2017.

Well, yeah, okay. You will need a coat, possibly a scarf. Almost certainly gloves and maybe even a hat and an umbrella. Apart from that, everything you need to know is in those posts 🙂

Er, okay, you might also want to know how to get there. We sort of covered that in the July post when we mischievously described transport to Oldham as “straightforward nowadays”. If you don’t believe us then please check out MyTfGM for journey planning.

We are pleased to confirm that we have two speakers for the day covering innovation and Universal Credit. If you want to know more please download the agenda from the link above.

Countdown to the October the 6th GMWRAG meeting in Oldham.

We posted full details of the next GMWRAG meeting as far back as the 12th of July 2017. To save yourself (well, us) some time, you can have a look at that post now.  Everything you need is in there. The date, the time, the place , how to get there and even tentative details of a speaker.

A quick hint. It’s a full day meeting on Friday the 6th of October 2017 (that bit wot is in the title of this post) and you’re still going to have to read that previous post and remember to bring your own minutes from the last meeting.

We’re waiting for final confirmation on our morning speaker but we can confirm that our afternoon speaker will definitely be Vivien Robinson, DWP Partnership Manager, who will be talking about the local roll out of full service Universal Credit from 2:00pm onward.

Some of you may remember that in a previous post we detailed an update to UC roll out and this included the news that Oldham was rolling out from April 2017.

As soon as our a.m. speaker is confirmed the full agenda will be published here.

Invitation to take part in research into bereavement and funeral poverty.

With thanks to our friends at NAWRA for passing this on.

You are invited to participate in a study relating to bereavement and funeral poverty. The aim of the research is to understand how the change to Bereavement Support Payment may affect claimants and to consider the adequacy of the support available overall to bereaved families. Your views would be valuable, whether or not you have much experience in this area or with the new benefit.

Participation involves an online questionnaire. It will take around 10 minutes. All questions will be completed anonymously; the researcher will not know who has completed the questionnaire. The researcher is Jennifer Cowen and she can be contacted at c032915c@student.staffs.ac.uk. If you have any further questions about anything to do with the questionnaire, or the research in general, please feel free to contact her.

If you would like to participate, click on the link below to the research questionnaire and further information on the study: Take the survey or the URL below into a browser: http://staffordshire.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_4GccGX3KdhbwHJP

The Right To Justice.

‘Right to justice’, the final report of the Bach Commission is out today.

People should have a right to justice they can afford, urges a new report on access to the justice system.

The Fabian Society was secretariat for the Bach Commission which has heard from more than 100 individuals and organisations over the past two years. The commission found that cuts to legal aid created a two-tier justice system where the poorest go without representation or advice.

In its final report, published today, the commission calls on the government and other political parties to ensure minimum standards on access to justice are upheld through a new Right to Justice Act.

The proposed Right to Justice Act would:

  • Codify our existing rights to justice and establish a new right for individuals to receive reasonable legal assistance without costs they cannot afford
  • Establish a set of principles that guide interpretation of this new right
  • Establish a new body called the Justice Commission to monitor and enforce this new right

The commission also sets out an immediate action plan for the government to: widen the scope of legal aid, with a focus on early legal help; reform the eligibility requirements for legal aid; replace the Legal Aid Agency with an independent body; and improve the public’s understanding of the law.

To read the appendices to the report and see the written evidence the commission has received, please click here.

Detailed commentary can also be found via the Grauniad, Independent , The Law Society Gazette and the Solicitors Journal.