Minutes of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Officers Group and a date for the next meeting.

The minutes of the last meeting of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group (NWMHWRAG) are now available. They can be downloaded from here and also found permanently on their pages. We have updated their pages to reflect the fact that the first meeting of 2018 will take place on Friday the 26th of January 2018.

We have noted that the minutes between May and November 2017 have gone AWOL so we will be attempting to fix this ASAP. Yeah, alright, we MAY have forgotten to take them from our posts and put them on the page! By the time you read this it will have hopefully been done.

GMWRAG will of course be having a quiet word about the use of the Comic Sans font and ensuring this doesn’t happen again 🙂 A quick browse here should be the starting point 🙂

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First GMWRAG meeting of 2018.

We confirmed back in October 2017 that the next GMWRAG meeting would take place in Salford and we anticipated this would take place on Friday the 19th of January 2018. We can now confirm this as a definite date. The meeting will take place in committee room 3 of the old town hall in Swinton (M27 5 FJ). It will be a full day meeting and we are just waiting for two of three potential speakers to confirm. Minutes of the last meeting are awaited from Oldham and we’ll distribute those and a full agenda as soon as they’re finalised.

Many of you will have been to Swinton before and recognise there are considerable difficulties in securing parking, especially if needed for the day. For this reason GMWRAG urges attendees to either car share or use public transport. There is public transport information available at https://www.salford.gov.uk/council-buildings-and-venues/how-to-find-us but we have alerted Salford to the fact much of this out of date. Some options have improved (electric car charging) and some have not (parking generally).

We can tell you at this stage that Salford is well served by public transport with a train station less than 10 minutes walk from the civic centre and buses coming past the civic centre on Chorley Road and Partington Lane on a regular basis. Guided busway and other buses also go down the East Lancs. Road and drop off less than 10 minutes walk from the civic centre.

We’ll post more about your transport options when we post up the full meeting details with agenda, speakers and minutes of the last meeting.

Critical social policy work from NAWRA.

NAWRA has been liaising with a firm of solicitors talking about possible ways to take judicial review action on various aspects of Universal Credit. They are very interested in taking challenges on working disabled people and the self-employed – they are already taking a challenge on behalf of claimants losing the SDP.

They remain keen to hear about clients who have lost out moving to UC who are either –
• a working disabled person moving from WTC to UC and losing money due to loss of the disabled worker element;
• a self-employed person who is losing out because of irregular income and so gets less UC than an employed person earning a similar amount, or other self-employed people losing out under UC.

NAWRA are also widening their search for potential UC judicial review claimants to people in the following circumstances:

1. Claimants who are naturally migrating from ESA – failure to pay the LCW/LCWRA element straight away

2. The application of waiting days when they shouldn’t be applied as claimant was on legacy benefits before migrating

3. Submission of a DS1500 by a third party and a refusal to accept without explicit consent

If you have a client who is affected and would consider taking part in a legal challenge please email daphne@nawra.org.uk

 

 

 

Next meeting of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Officers Group.

The next meeting of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group (NWMHWRAG)

This will be on Friday the 24th of November 2017 at 9.30am for a 10am start in Room 2001 at Manchester Town Hall.

Look out for an email from Robin Serjeant to enable to you to access the building.

Four speakers from the DWP will be coming to talk to us about Universal Credit Full Service.

Thanks to everyone who submitted questions for them.  I have sent these on to our speakers and they are on the attached document.

I have had to edit the questions as we received such a  large volume.

You will, of course, be able to ask further questions on the day.

As this will be our last meeting before Christmas, we will going for lunch afterwards.

All are welcome to join us.

GMWRAG apologises for the lack of links to relevant sites within this post. A minor blip caused by posting from Safari for iPad. Normal service will resume imminently.

Future GMWRAG meetings.

We’re around the time of year when people start asking when the next GMWRAG meeting is. What they really mean is “is there a GMWRAG meeting before Christmas?”. The answer to this is “No, there isn’t.” Details of GMWRAG meetings have long since been plotted considerably in advance and full details can always be found on our meetings page.  We’re currently up to 2019 although those people hosting then probably haven’t noticed 🙂

The next GMWRAG meeting will be in Salford and, although it’s not finally confirmed, we are hoping it will take place in Swinton on Friday the 19th of January 2018.  We’re anticipating a full day meeting with two or more speakers. More details will be posted as soon as we have them. Minutes of the last meeting will be out in due course.

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.

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