NAWRA would like to hear from you if you have had issues with Universal Credit and non-dependant deductions.

Last week, CPAG met with senior civil servants at the Department for Work and Pensions to discuss the concerns about universal credit which you have been raising on the Early Warning System. The officials were surprised to hear that claimants are still facing problems with housing costs contribution for non-dependents. Most importantly, they have undertaken to look at how they could fix these problems if we can send them some real life examples. This where we need your help: we need your case studies of clients affected by errors in paying the housing costs contribution.

On the Early Warning System  and at their Universal Credit Housing Costs seminar   in March you told us about the DWP telling clients that only the claimant can be exempted from housing costs contribution. They’ve also heard the opposite: that only the non-dependent’s circumstances are taken into account in determining whether an exemption applies. They have heard about housing costs contributions applied in respect of the wrong non-dependent or the wrong number of non-dependents and housing costs contribution applied in relation to children, partners and short-term visitors.

Advisers have told CPAG about exempted claimants suddenly finding housing costs contribution applied to their award without any explanation.

Other advisers have said that their clients are struggling because the amount of housing cost contribution has risen now they have migrated to UC and claimants who were exempted under legacy benefits are now subject to the deduction.

This is a genuine opportunity for advisers to tell senior civil servants how administrative errors and UC rules are affecting clients and to persuade the ministers to take action.

If your clients have been affected by errors in the administration of housing costs contribution, either now or in the past, please let CPAG know. They’d like to hear about clients who have lost out under the new housing costs rules when they migrated to UC. Equally, if you don’t have a specific client in mind, they’d be pleased to hear your general impressions: has your service seen a rise in enquiries about housing costs contributions or have you had to raise the issue at liaison meetings with the DWP?

You can contact CPAG on their easy-to-use case reporting form , by emailing ews@cpag.org.uk or by calling Dan Norris on 020 7812 5226. Tell CPAG what you think they need to know. They’re not looking for personal details: They need issues not names.

Join CPAG in taking this opportunity to improve the administration of housing costs contribution for UC claimants. Please do forward this request to your friends and colleagues.

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The sorry tale of how GMWRAG received a response to our first ever Freedom Of Information request; missed a chance to do some DWP wide research and learnt more than we possibly intended.

On the 13th of August 2018 GMWRAG made a Freedom of Information request to DWP via our new WhatDoTheyKnow account. You can read all about the context for that first request in our post of that date but it’s worth reiterating the basics here.

On the 3rd of August 2018 @neilcouling posted the following tweet.

“Nice end to the week. UC claimant on work experience in jobcentre tells whole of DWP, UC is better than JSA, feels more customer-friendly, giving people responsibility for their money means work less of a culture-shock, that change is inevitable but this one is welcome.”

@GMWRAGtweets has enjoyed “bants” with Mr. Couling previously and we’re well aware of an infamous occasion claims were made of being inundated with thank you cards from claimants who had been sanctioned. The final number could be described as something less than “inundated” unless DWP are now using a dolls house sized letter box as the front end for mail handling.

We have no idea whether the above account is controlled by Mr. Couling (or perhaps a “UC claimant on work experience”) but the above tweet provokes more questions than answers and Mr. Couling wasn’t very forthcoming.

We probably don’t need to comment further on the phrase “UC claimant on work experience in jobcentre”… but we will! We think the very concept of “work experience in jobcentre” begs a question as to what on earth JCP think they’re doing? Why would you place anyone on work experience in a jobcentre? If you can do it for one why can’t you do it in all (recognising the problematic nature of doing it in even one JCP)? What safeguards are in place if the work experience doesn’t work out? Is the work coach the supervisor? And so on… ad nauseam.

However, our more immediate concern was that this was someone giving out a message which offers a perspective on UC which flies in the face of all the evidence accepted by the Public Accounts Committee, the Work and Pensions Committee and the National Audit Office and in the context of doing work experience in, of all places, a JCP. So, this would be someone who not only seemed unlikely to have had any issue with the fluctuations inherent in UC in other situations and is therefore potentially largely uniformed by the wider issues but also who looks from the outside to have said something which at worst looks potentially coerced given that the language used, to most reasonable people, does not appear to be the language of a claimant. Indeed it bore remarkable similarities to those leaflets the DWP had to concede contained case studies of claimants who weren’t exactly real!

So, GMWRAG elected to ask a simple question? Which jobcentre? When we didn’t get an answer we decided to just keep asking. Every day!

At first we couldn’t any response at all but then, after 5 days Mr. Couling denied we’d asked him anything.

“Think you need to check back on your twitter history. I don’t recall you asking me anything. This tweet suggests you have asked a local jobcentre? But if I missed a tweet from you apologies”.

By this time we had, of course, on the 4th of August 2018 asked every JCP on Twitter in the UK whether this inspirational claimant had been at their office. We didn’t think this was unreasonable. Weren’t these the same JCPs who had claimed to be so responsive on social media that they had once prevented a claimant setting out to sign on in those notorious “adverse weather conditions” less then 10 minutes after they’d been asked if they were open! Yes, they were.

At the time of writing, a mere 40 days later, not a single one of those JCPs has shown enough social media manners to offer us a polite response. Not a “Sorry, not us”. Not a peep. Were there to be a storm of biblical proportions it seems most unlikely any JCP would be able to offer up a response in 9 minutes.

On the 8th of August 2018 Mr. Couling finally responded that this “… wasn’t from a jobcentre, which perhaps explains why jobcentres haven’t responded.”

Well, on one level, we had achieved a little more clarity, albeit only in the sense that we had established that blood wasn’t likely to leak from a stone any time soon. On the other hand, are we truly alone in thinking that an organisation which gets asked a questions and fails to acknowledge that even if only to confirm that they couldn’t help is best described not as “customer friendly” (to hark back to our original concern) but simply unprofessional? If GMWRAG members received a query from a client or another government department or indeed just about anyone, and simply failed to answer does “unprofessional” not leap out as the obvious adjective?

GMWRAG then asked, not unreasonably, if not in a JCP, then where. Mr. Couling was on fire now. He came back with the brilliant phrase “Sure, social media.”. We then asked which account and… silence.

ON the same day GMWRAG then found the account of one @AfrikKwame who quite remarkably had tweeted (on the 29th of March 2018 mind you) the words

“@JTomlinsonMP @ MMorley_JCP @Director_LHC I’m Deaf and loving my work experience at Barnsbury JC, coaching non-Deaf UC claimants into work.”

Putting aside that this means that work experience in a JCP is actually “a thing” we didn’t think this was our man (more on this later) but Mr. Couling then tweeted the astonishing

“This exchange reminds me of the bit from the Life of Brian where a follower says “only the true messiah denies his own divinity”. Brian replies “well what chance does that give me?”. Noted you never accept anyone might be happy with UC. I’m listening why not reciprocate?”

Two days earlier Mr. Couling had accepted an invitation to the October GMWRAG meeting! He then clearly set about doing some serious listening as his Twitter account fell mysteriously silent…

You can read the full text of the DWP response here. Like us you may wonder at how the DWP intranet translates into “social media”. Despite encouragement from elsewhere we think it would be futile to pursue this angle. Whilst most of us think of social media as specific platforms like Flaccidbook or Witter, it can be defined sufficiently loosely for Mr. Couling to be able to get away with the use of the phrase in connection with a post or broadcast on an intranet. See here for an example.

We do now have the full text of the voluntarily provided feedback, which reads

“I’m doing work experience at the job centre and I’m on UC. In my opinion UC is
much easier for customers than the old JSA system, it feels much more customer
friendly. Also, giving the customers full responsibility for their money is less of a
culture shock when we enter into full or even part time employment. I do
understand that some of the staff are concerned about the possibility of a heavy
workload due to the change of procedure, however, I think that once the change is
implemented, it will make the whole process smoother for all. In every system
change is inevitable, but I can tell you now, to me this is a very welcome one.”

GMWRAG is willing to listen to arguments that the above is real. The extent to which it was voluntary is open to discussion and ditto the extent to which the above is couched in the language of a claimant as opposed to a broadcast by DWP. However, the matter is not at an end. Indeed we have just tweeted @AfrikKwame to ask if they were in fact the person in question. Watch this space.

Brilliantly, it appears that when DWP posted the above responses they managed to not only fail to fully redact the name of the relevant claimant (too late folks, it’s apparently been sorted) but also managed to post a link which enabled a user to message the whole of the DWP! Yes, you read that right. GMWRAG of course missed the boat on this once in a lifetime opportunity to do some research in partnership with the DWP and that has been taken down also. Bearing in mind that UC is intended to be wholly digital and DWP is currently looking to migrate UC to a cloud computing platform. Let’s not even start on online ID verification. GMWRAG is both mildly amused and simultaneously horrified that such basic errors and data breaches continue to occur. It appears one little question can open up a whole can of worms.

Mysteriously, @NeilCouling is back on Twitter as of today! Perhaps someone lost the password and just found it in a journal!

The same “long read” as last time but possibly in a more digestible format and with a different title.

Back in July 2018 GMWRAG published a long read via TruPublica titled “Research Paper Update: State Crime By Proxy: Corporate Influence on State Sanctioned Social Harm”. You can read that post here and the actual article here.

The whole thing has now been formally published by the Centre for Welfare Reform and is available for download as a pdf by clicking below. The new title is the much more understandable “Preventable Harm and the Work Capability Assessment”.

If you want to know how we ended up where we are with the WCA, and why, then this is an essential read. The same caveats we wrote last time probably still apply.

Consultation on the enforcement of the Equality Act 2010.

Along with judicial review and Human Rights Act challenges, the Equality Act 2010 has become an increasingly relevant and powerful force in achieving change to both roll back welfare reform; eliminate discrimination and enforce reasonable adjustments as part of the claim, decision making and challenge processes. GMWRAG members via the GMSCG group and meetings have rapidly gained confidence, expertise and excellent contacts to make such challenges far easier.

So, head bowed, we can’t for the life of us remember why we haven’t publicised the current consultation being run by the Women and Equalities Committee looking at the effectiveness of the enforcement of the Equality Act 2010.

The Women and Equalities Committee has launches this inquiry into the enforcement of the legislation which is designed to “provide a legal framework to protect the rights of individuals and advance equality of opportunity for all”. You can read the full detail of this at Enforcement of the Equality Act: the law and the role of the EHRC.

Widespread problems with enforcement

Individuals can take legal action to enforce their right not to be discriminated against, mostly through employment tribunals and county courts.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) also has duties and powers to enforce the Act and it has stated that it wishes to become a more ‘muscular’ regulator.

However, the Committee’s work in a range of areas has shown that individuals have difficulties enforcing their rights under the Act and has questioned the effectiveness of the EHRC: inquiries on pregnancy and maternity discrimination, transgender equality, disability and the built environment, workplace dress codes, older people and employment and sexual harassment in the workplace all identified widespread problems with enforcement.

Previous recommendations

The Committee has already made recommendations to improve the enforcement of the Equality Act in specific areas. These include:

  • extending time limits for bringing certain employment cases (pregnancy & maternity and sexual harassment reports)
  • adequate financial penalties (workplace dress codes and sexual harassment reports)
  • increased use by the EHRC of its enforcement powers (workplace dress codes, older workers)
  • greater action by regulators to tackle discrimination in the organisations they oversee (pregnancy and maternity, sexual harassment in the workplace)

The Committee now wants to know what more needs to be done to achieve widespread compliance with the Equality Act 2010 for all those with rights under it.

Send us your views

The Committee calls for written evidence on:

  • How easy it is for people to understand and enforce their rights under the Equality Act
  • How well enforcement action under the Equality Act works as a mechanism for achieving widescale change
  • How effective and accessible tribunals and other legal means of redress under the Equality Act are, and what changes would improve those processes
  • How effective current remedies for findings of discrimination are in achieving change, and what alternative or additional penalties should be available;
  • The effectiveness of the EHRC as an enforcement body, including:
    • Whether the powers the Commission has are sufficient and effective;
    • Whether the Commission is using those powers well;
    • Whether changes are needed to the Commission’s approach to using its enforcement powers as set out in its policies (such as the strategic litigation policy and compliance and enforcement policy) or as implemented in practice, and the way it identifies and selects legal cases to lead or support;
    • Whether the Commission uses enforcement action appropriately and effectively as part of its wider strategies for advancing equality;
    • Whether the Commission’s role as an enforcer is widely known and understood and acts as a deterrent to discrimination.
  • Whether there are other models of enforcement, in the UK or other countries, that could be a more effective means of achieving widespread compliance with the Equality Act 2010, either overall or in specific sectors.

Send your submission using the written submission form. The deadline is Friday the 5th of October 2018.

Please note that the Committee cannot look at individual cases or accept submissions about cases that are currently before the Courts.

Written submissions should focus on the enforcement issues set out in the terms of reference.

This could include, for example, barriers faced when trying to bring a case, but it should not include detailed descriptions of individual cases themselves.

Submissions that do not address the issues set out in the terms of reference may not be accepted by the Committee.

Please contact the Committee staff at womeqcom@parliament.uk if you have any questions about this

Inquiry provides opportunity for a systematic review

Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, Maria Miller MP, said:

“Many of our inquiries inevitably focus on the problems with enforcement of equality legislation and critique the role of the EHRC.

This inquiry will provide the opportunity for a more systematic review of the causes and identify possible solutions.

We want to look at whether the Equality Act creates an unfair burden on individual people to enforce their right not to be discriminated against. How easy is it for people to understand and enforce their rights? How effective is enforcement action? Are tribunals accessible and remedies for findings of discrimination effective? Is the EHRC able to do its job properly? Those are just some of the questions we are seeking to answer.

I would encourage people to submit evidence to our inquiry if they are able to provide more information on those points.”

GMWRAG members will of course not need much reminding that this is the same Maria Miller who introduced PIP with the intention of cutting 20% off the DLA budget and helping disabled people live “… more independent lives” and equally familiar rhetoric along the lines of the victim blaming

“concerns that are based on a lack of detailed information of what we are talking about in terms of our reforms. People need to get the facts rather than speculation”.

Now, where have we heard THAT before? Oh, hang on. It sounds remarkably similar to the phrase

“I remain worried that the legitimate campaigning activity on UC, that is regularly undertaken, is causing anxiety amongst claimants that will make it more difficult to move people safely over to UC”.

No irony at all in the same person who introduced legislation, which is now a hotbed of potential EA 10 cases, asking whether EA 10 is working okay.

GMWRAG loves life 🙂 Off you go then. 5th of October folks. 5th of October.

Further information

Guidance: written submissions

A quick reminder about the next NAWRA meeting in Glasgow.

GMWRAG has mentioned this before but as we’re now much closer to September it’s timely to remind members that the next NAWRA meeting will take place from 10am-4pm (registration from 9.30am) on Friday the 7th of September 2018 at Renfield St Stephen’s Centre, 260 Bath St, Glasgow G2 4JP (hosted by Glasgow City Council).

The guest speaker will be the newly appointed Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, Shirley-Anne Somerville.

Also speaking is Dr Sharon Wright of Glasgow University, co-author of ‘A hand up or a slap down? Criminalising benefit claimants in Britain via strategies of surveillance, sanctions and deterrence’

Last but not least there is GMSCG leading light Jo Chimes, Project Lead/Legal Adviser at the Equality and Diversity Forum talking “In the small places close to home – making equality rights practical and relevant in welfare benefits advice”.

A. Deductions from universal credit – Daphne Hall (Rightsnet) with thanks to Will Hadwen

Workshop level: Intermediate/Practical

Many universal credit claimants struggle because of the high level of deductions. This workshop will look at:

  •  the current rules for the different deductions;
  •  maximum rates;
  •  how or if we can negotiate with the DWP to reduce them;
  •  and what to do when this isn’t successful.

We’ll also discuss Esther McVey’s commitment to look at this problem.

B. Practical equality rights in welfare benefits advice – Jo Chimes (Equality and Diversity Forum) Workshop level: Introductory/Practical

The Equality and Diversity Forum launched an online handbook, Practical Equality Rights in Welfare Benefits Advice, in May 2018. This workshop will show how the handbook can help everyone working in welfare benefits advice to make practical use of the Equality Act 2010 to solve everyday discrimination problems and fill the ‘discrimination advice gap’.

C. Reg 35 limbo – Scott McInally and Kathryn Gaines (Durham County Council Welfare Rights Service)

Workshop level: Advanced/Practical

Are tribunals lowering the bar for work-related activities making it all but impossible to satisfy regulation 35? Durham Welfare Rights share their experience of Reg 35 appeals and invite you to share yours.

D. Pitfalls and processes with universal credit – Zoey Corker (Sanctuary Housing)

Workshop level: Introductory/Strategic

As it finally rolls out to most of Scotland, Zoey Corker provides us with an insight into processes and pitfalls for claiming universal credit, including Scottish protections.

The full agenda can be found here.

A unique way to communicate with GMWRAG or attempt to participate in electoral fraud.

Thank you to those of you who have already let us know you’ll be coming to the Trafford GMWRAG meeting. We fully appreciate that not all of you are in a position to contact the site admin. or tweet us via @GMWRAGTweets. Therefore, if neither of these routes are currently available to you, please use the voting button below to indicate your attendance at the meeting.

Please note that whilst some scallywags might think it amusing to vote more than once our poll is sufficiently sophisticated to recognise your vote from your IP address and using cookies so you may think you’re getting more than one vote. You’re really not.

On the other hand it’s not so intelligent that it allowed us to delete the “No” option. Maybe that’s just us!

The poll will close in one week and is intended just to give us a rough idea of attendance from those people who don’t know how to Contact GMWRAG and/or who may have not attended previously.

CPAG Welfare Rights Conference 2018 and some ideas for our October 2018 meeting in Trafford.

Welfare Rights Conference 2018

Universally discredited – How can we make the failing universal credit work for families?

In Manchester on Thursday the 13th of September 2018.

Book now

Despite a growing avalanche of evidence that universal credit (UC) is causing hardship and pushing thousands of children and their families further into poverty, the roll out of UC continues.

The National Audit Office found that one in every five claimants do not receive their full payment on time and the DWP’s own research highlights that just over half of claimants are able to register their claim online without assistance.

With ‘managed’ migration due to start in July 2019, the administrative and systemic problems with UC will only be magnified.

This conference will give delegates the opportunity to discuss the latest developments and hear from political leaders, policy makers and experts in the field on how best to support and advise UC claimants in such a hostile and challenging environment.

For more details on the planned workshops and programme, together with instructions on how to book your place, please see below.

Workshops

Delegates will have the opportunity to attend two workshops from the four listed below.

Claiming UC: now and under managed migration – “the one in five” failure rate 

Martin Williams, Welfare Rights Worker at CPAG

DWP Figures show 20% of people who attempt to claim UC are refused due to failing to attend or book an interview or for other administrative reasons. With the proposed regulations on “Managed Migration” requiring claimants of legacy benefits to submit claims for UC when notified to do so, rather than a process of automatically transferring them to the new benefit, this is particularly worrying.

In this workshop we will look at:

  • The UC claims process and how DWP handling of this issue arguably differs from what is in the regulations.
  • Challenging decisions “closing” claims.
  • The proposed managed migration rules on claiming and foreseeable problems claimants are likely to encounter when instructed to claim UC.
  • Possibilities for strategic litigation in this area.
Right to reside and habitual residence tests for UC
Rebecca Walker, Author and Trainer at CPAG
Many EEA nationals are being refused universal credit on the basis that they are not accepted as being habitually resident or having a qualifying right to reside – even when they were previously receiving legacy benefits.
This workshop will consider some of the current issues including:
  • The way the residence tests operate for UC
  • Issues for claimants previously receiving legacy benefits
  • Particular groups experiencing difficulties such as EEA nationals not considered to be working enough and those seeking to claim on the basis of a derivative right to reside
Tactics for dealing with UC sanctions
Dan Norris, Welfare Rights Worker at CPAG
Sanctions are a significant problem for the increasing number of universal credit claimants. Focussing on work related requirement sanctions, this workshop will give advisers the skills to support clients who have been sanctioned or are in danger of being sanctioned.
  • How the UC sanctions regime has increased pressure on claimants
  • How to agree work related requirements to reduce the threat of sanctions
  • Which temporary suspension of work related requirements can help your client
  • Reducing the duration of sanctions
  • Challenging sanctions
UC and disability
Simon Osborne, Welfare Rights Worker at CPAG, and Steph Pike, Acting Head of Advice and Rights at CPAG
This workshop looks at some of the main rules, problems and solutions regarding UC for people with disabilities. It aims to cover recent developments and also to allow participants to share experience and views.
Topics covered include:
  • The WCA and transfers from ESA to UC
  • UC and severe disability  – the latest
  • Problems and solutions in practice (work, study and others)
Programme
09.15 – 10.00 Arrival, registration, coffee and exhibition stand viewing
10:00 – 11.15 Host welcome and keynote speakers (tbc)
11.15 – 11.30 Refreshment break and viewing of exhibition stands
11.30 – 12.45 Workshops – morning session
12.45 – 13.30 Lunch and viewing of exhibition stands
13.30 – 14.45 Workshops – afternoon session
14.45 – 15.00 Refreshment break and viewing of exhibition stands
15.00 – 16.00 Panel discussion and Q&A
As a precursor to all of the above, attendees may wish to read CPAGs summary of the 8 main UC issues identified by their Early Warning System. Some, but not all, of these issues may be relevant to bring into the room for our October 2018 meeting in Trafford. Either way they’ll provide some focus to initial thoughts.
Confirmed Speakers

Manchester

Kate Green MP, Labour MP for Stretford and Urmston
Graham Witham , Director of Greater Manchester Poverty Action
Dr Lisa Scullion, Reader in Social Policy, University of Salford

Venue
Our Manchester venue is the University of Manchester Innovation Centre, Core Technology Facility, 46 Grafton Street, Manchester, M13 9NT
Our London venue is Herbert Smith Freehills, Exchange House, Primrose Street, London, EC2A 2EG
Exhibition Space

There will be an exhibition space hosting exhibitors showcasing their work, products and services. If you are interested in exhibiting, please email Sebastien at sclark@cpag.org.uk.

Booking a place

Delegate tickets, which include a choice of four expert workshops, teas, coffees, buffet lunch and conference materials, start from £150.00 for voluntary organisations and £195 for statutory and lawyers.

To book your place(s) please complete the online booking form here.

Please note that bookings cannot be processed until you have selected your workshops, and workshops will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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.

A big announcement for the next GMWRAG meeting.

Some two months after we first announced the next GMWRAG meeting would be in Trafford on Friday the 19th of October 2018 we are pleased to be able to put a little flesh on the bones of the agenda and we’re confident that we have a day which will pique the interest of even the most diehard Principal Officers stayaways .

Our original plan was to have our traditional 2 speakers and a full day. Only the latter of these ideas remains in play. At the request of several GMWRAG members the whole day will understandably be dedicated to Universal Credit Full Service. However, instead of 2 speakers we will be playing host all day to Neil Couling CBE, Director General of the Universal Credit Programme and working with him and DWP to put together an agenda agreeable to all.

Mr. Couling will be bringing with him 3 partnership managers, although GMWRAG had already started the process of inviting every GM partnership manager before he graciously accepted our invitation, so whether we end up with the former or the latter is currently up in the air.

The focus of the meeting will be on identifying common UCFS issues across the GM area and looking to identify consistent cross GM solutions in order to move away from having different problem solving processes for each of the 10 GM areas.

The intent is to leave the meeting with a clear plan for a cross GM UCFS forum to meet on a regular basis to build on the work we plan to get through in Trafford over a longer period.

In deference to Mr. Couling we are likely to have specific agenda items about what is going well with UCFS and also a discussion on the evidence base for the suggestion that UC campaigning is causing anxiety amongst claimants which will make managed migration difficult to move people over safely to UC from 2020 onwards. There may be further requests for specific agenda items from the DWP side which we will also try to accommodate.

GMWRAG members can now help make this a successful day by contacting GMWRAG and letting us know your top 5 UCFS issues or concerns. Where common issues are identified across GM we’ll put these as specific agenda items and will try to give them 30 to 60 minutes each. These need to be strictly defined as anything broad is likely to go nowhere fast.

GMWRAG already has some ideas around this from members posts in forums and social media e.g. issues around terminal illness; unspecified/unjustified deductions; corporate appointeeships and many more but we want members to lead in defining your concerns not ours. We will be contacting some GMWRAG members in existing UCFS areas in GM for their specific thoughts.

We may ask 1 person per item to set the scene on the day by spending 5 minutes outlining the issue in depth (and perhaps giving a quick case study) before we set about co-operatively agreeing solutions which work for the majority.

This is likely to be the most focused and stimulating GMWRAG meeting (since the last one); a PowerPoint free zone (unless absolutely unavoidable) and we anticipate numbers may be high. Bearing this in mind, we’ll be posting separately in due course to ask GMWRAG members to indicate whether they will be attending so we can get a quick idea of numbers.

All of this does of course mean that a final agenda may be produced only at a very late stage so please keep an eye on this site and Twitter for further information. The minutes of the Bolton meeting remain available for download now.