More on no deal from Alexandra Sinclair.

Those of you who made it to our excellent Brexit and Benefits session recently will be fully aware of Alexandra Sinclair from the Public Law Project. A GMWRAG summary of the talk can now be downloaded from here. We’re awaiting word on whether we can use the PowerPoint presentation from that day.

In the meantime, Alexandra has been in touch to send you some further material that might assist our members.

She has written a research briefing paper on EU citizens’ rights in the event of a no deal Brexit after having reviewed all the SIs in areas related to citizens’ rights.

It covers immigration, housing, social security, healthcare and education. It’s published on PLP’s website here and they plan to update it regularly until such time as the Immigration Bill becomes law. Any comments/feedback are very welcome. Please circulate to your wider networks.

There is also a blog post on Free Movement about this https://www.freemovement.org.uk/what-legal-rights-will-eu-citizens-have-after-a-no-deal-brexit/

Bedtime reading, Brexit and low-income housholds.

GMWRAG is busying up for our Brexit and Benefits half day epic later this month (not to forget the GM UC Forum) and in the spirit of making sure everyone is up to speed here’s some bedtime reading from Policy In Practice on the impact of Brexit on low-income households. GMWRAG remains (sorry, don’t draw ANY conclusions from that word) surprised at the lack of such modelling at such a key moment so this is if nothing else a good starting point for discussion.

You can find similar from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research but it’s 3 years old now. We were about to say that a lot can happen in 3 years but that’s probably not appropriate in relation to the B word.

More recently you can read https://ukandeu.ac.uk/poverty-after-brexit-no-dividend-for-those-on-low-incomes/ but how much bedtime reading do you actually want?

Far better to come hear our two brilliant speakers on the 17th of May 2019.

If you can’t make it please bear in mind that GMWRAG has just received the best apology ever. Can it be topped? It may get topped off.

“I am helping build a Celtic roundhouse that day” is pretty impressive. GMWRAG will simply accept no apologies which fall below this standard. We can think of no better way to make attendance compulsory 🙂

GMWRAG has thusfar resisted the temptation to get into a discussion as to how the whole concept of Celts is genetically dodgy etc. We’re willing to add it to “AOB” though!

An actual almost bog standard GMWRAG meeting. Oh no, hang on. Brexit and Benefits.

Some of us have forgotten what an actual ordinary GMWRAG meeting looks like. Between Neal Couling; Everyday Equality North; a new GM UC Forum; sell out rooms and new booking systems it’s been a busy 8 months.

The next GMWRAG meeting was originally scheduled for April 2019 and was to be hosted by Stockport Help With Benefit Appeals as a half day meeting along with a half day GMWRAG GM UC Forum. We had plans for 2 speakers and a broad agenda of Brexit and Benefits. Alas, as with the B word itself, matters were not straightforward. We delayed in empathy (honest :)!

“Events dear boy. Events!” as Macmillan once allegedly said.

We are please to announce that the next GMWRAG meeting will be hosted by Stockport Help With Benefits team on Friday the 17th of May 2019 in BS 1.22 (N Atrium) in the Business School at Manchester Metropolitan University. See https://venues.mmu.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/11764-Business-School_First-Floor.pdf and https://venues.mmu.ac.uk/venues/business-school/

GMWRAG is hugely indebted to Ngaryan Li of GM Law Centre for making this happen.

GMWRAG is especially taken with the MMU Business Centre strap line “It is a real hub of activity where great minds meet”. We’ve made a joke about this in the previous post. It’s still worth finding 🙂

This will be an p.m. only meeting following on from the a.m. GMWRAG GM UC Forum meeting which will conclude circa 12pm at the same venue.

Please note that the meeting will be open for refreshments/networking at 12:30pm and will start at 12:45pm. You have not misread this. The intent would be to finish at 4pm as per usual.

We are fully aware this is an unusual start time but would appreciate people arriving promptly as the timings have been arranged to accommodate the fact we have 2 excellent speakers giving freely of their own time (and who are travelling a long way to do so) as well as deal with some GMWRAG business which has not been addressed as part of an agenda since (we think) Bolton in April 2018. More details of our speakers will follow but we can confirm that we have

1pm – Professor Charlotte O’Brien from York Law School. You can read more about Charlotte here but we’re confident many GMWRAG members will recall her excellent contribution on the consequences of Brexit at PLP North in 2017. We certainly do. The phrase “administrative cataclysm” has resonated down the years.

2:30pm – Alexandra Sinclair from the Public Law Project. will be talking on ”

“Brexit, Statutory Instruments and Social Security: An early analysis”.

You can read all about the SIFT project here. and you’ll immediately see the link with the many recent social security Statutory Instruments and Brexit.

The exact subject matter/titles for the above will be detailed in due course but if you haven’t figured out it’s “Brexity” then you haven’t been clicking on those links have you! Tsk. EDIT: The title of Alexandra’s talk is now detailed above. Charlotte’s will follow.

We also hope to deal with some routine GMWRAG business such as the appointment of a new Treasurer; web site management; take-up work etc.

Please note that unlike our last 2 meetings there is no booking process for this meeting. It’s a GMWRAG meeting and you can just turn up. However, as per our last 2 meetings, we are expecting a full room so please arrive early if you want a seat.

If you’re unable to make the meeting we have tentative plans to live stream but again we’ll let you know about that in due course. In the meantime we look forward to seeing you all there.

Oh yeah, transport. Ahem, nearest railway station is Manchester Oxford Road and the venue is a small walk from there. We won’t talk about buses because if you can’t get a bus down Oxford Road then you’re really not trying. We strongly recommend cycling as Oxford Road has 2 cycle lanes. We strongly recommend insurance though as we’ve never been able to figure out which way the cyclists are supposed to be going.

See you all there.

Minutes of the first GMWRAG Greater Manchester Universal Credit Forum ALMOST available. Another new GMWRAG web site section created in anticipation.

The minutes of the 1st ever GMWRAG GM UC Forum, which took place in sunny Oldham (we’re writing this as it’s snowing in March) way back in January 2019 are now almost available for download. Apologies for the delay in getting these out to you but we’ve had technical issues getting them to the DWP for comment.

In light of the delays these issues have caused we’ve decided to go down the “publish and be damned” route and just get them out there (sort of). At present though you won’t be able to access them until DWP have confirmed there are no issues with them from their perspective.

Once they do go live (yeah, we will say) could those of you who were present at the meeting please take a look and note any suggested/required amendments? Bring them with you to the next meeting and we’ll deal with them under a hopefully brief, focused “minutes of the last meeting” item at the outset.

In order to view the minutes you will need to find them in (yet another) new GMWRAG section where they are located and password protected. We’ll leave it to you to figure out what it’s called. If you can’t (clue: it starts with “NEW”) then we despair. We just do.

As regards passwords, GMWRAG members know the score. If you don’t then just contact us and we’ll let you know (the score that is. Possibly the password too.) once it’s all live.

GMWRAG has recently discovered what happens when we momentarily and accidentally leave minutes unprotected. Apparently, we end up in Private Eye! You can read more about that here but GMWRAG wishes to issue a resolute “no comment”.

In the meantime, you’ll obviously want to know that we’re working towards a slightly amended date and timings for the next UC Forum/GMWRAG meeting.

We were scheduled for Stockport in Spring (sorry, we just liked the alliteration – we meant April) but we’re now looking at a mid May date. The draft minutes also suggested that the UC Forum would run 1pm to 4pm but we’ve had to amend that immediately in order to accommodate our speakers at the GMWRAG meeting on the same day.

So, at present the intent is that the UC forum will be a.m. and will be followed by a packed p.m. meeting with 2 speakers looking at various aspects of Brexit and Benefits. We’ll give you something more concrete on this as soon as it’s been finalised but we’re hoping for the 17th of May 2019. If the weather persists we shall of course rebadge it as “Brrrrexit and Benefits”.

Please note that we can’t guarantee that the future order of these meetings will be the same. We suspect it will change depending on the availability of speakers for the GMWRAG meeting. We are busy finding out whose hands to slap for suggesting the UC Forum would always be p.m.

Finally, we have had several queries asking about the accessibility/access group which was suggested at the 1st meeting. There is clearly much enthusiasm for this and much anxiety about perceived delays. DWP are doing a lot of work behind the scenes to make this happen (most notably to make it as accessible as it can be) so please bear with us. As soon as we’re able to announce anything, we will.

GMWRAG at PLP Conference North on Benefit Sanctions and the rule of law.

GMWRAG members turned out en masse for the PLP Conference North at the BPP Law School in Manchester last week. There was particularly strong representation from the newly formed GM Strategic Casework Group and much work is now being done to assimilate what was learnt through a long day of networking, lectures and workshops.

We have attempted a brief taster below and in due course we hope to present some the key documents from the day which are not already in the public domain. Where we can we have provided links so if you want to know who someone is or what they said then please click away.

Happy reading.

Michael Adler Benefit sanctions and the rule of law – Great Britain is 33rd of 40 OECD countries in terms of severity of work incentives. We are worse than South Korea. The slide did say “Korea”. How sad that someone had to ask which one!

2012 was the first year the number of benefit sanctions exceeded the number of fines for criminal offences (Just let that one sink in!)

Judge Wright UT – How the first tier tribunal deals with sanctions following Reilly – the Government response to Jobseekers (Back To Work Schemes) Act 2013 breaching Article 6 is due in August 2017. Could impact many stayed Reilly cases.

Richard CrellinResearch on the impact of benefit sanctions – Research is being undermined by DWP repeatedly resetting the clock on FoI requests at 19 days by asking for clarifications. They refuse to provide data and then publish it as a response on the day any report with is released.

Alison Pickup – Public Law Workshop – looked at project approaches to systemic issues with organisations i.e. not just using the law. We were especially interested in the idea that challenging an apparent unfairness could involve more than litigation e.g. campaigning; publicity; partnership working and so on.

James Stark – Anti-social behaviour legislation, poverty and discriminationvivid description of the Tour De France being used as a test bed for clearing the street homeless and beggars across the UK. People being imprisoned for 6 months for begging for 50p. Longer than under the Vagrancy Act 1824 (1 month).

Zoe Leventhal – Article 6 in social welfare law – Zoe has history on Article 6 challenges. Currently testing the legality of a refusal by the SoS to extend the right to a late MR so appeal rights are lost. A 3 judge panel has sat on whether denial of appeal is a breach of article 6 and whether JR is a sufficient remedy. Decision due in August 2017.

Joseph Markus and Clare Fowler – Bringing an EA 10 claim in the County Court concerning housing, benefits and education. How to bypass the Civil Legal Aid telephone Gateway issues on discrimination cases.

Charlotte O’Brien – Brexit and benefits – There is significant potential for an “administrative cataclysm” yet this is not even on agenda. Need to understand that even the most innocuous changes to benefits now e.g. definitions of work, will have huge impact on who stays post Brexit.

Call for evidence – EEA nationals and right of residence.

Alice Welsh from the University of York is requesting case study evidence on EEA national’s access to welfare benefits and permanent residence for a PhD research project in partnership with Citizens Advice Craven & Harrogate districts. She is undertaking this research as a PhD candidate at the University of York and a research and campaigns volunteer at Citizens Advice Craven & Harrogate districts.

The project:

Looking in particular on the Minimum Earnings Threshold (MET) and on the lookout for cases where EEA national clients who are working part time or casual hours have been denied benefits or permanent residence as they do not have a right of residence, they do not meet the minimum earnings threshold or their work is not “genuine and effective”. Also interested in the effects of those decisions.

The issue is of pressing, real importance, as those re-defined as not-workers will have a harder job claiming 5 years of continuous residence, which could make it difficult for them to keep residence rights after Brexit.

How to send evidence:

A brief information sheet on the cases being looked for and a letter from the CEO at Citizens Advice Craven & Harrogate Districts to confirm my training and agreement with accessing Petra files can be downloaded here.

If GMWRAG members could provide any evidence for this research that would be much appreciated. If this is possible Alice would be happy to meet to give further information on the project and discuss how case studies can be passed on or any cases can be sent to my email address: ajw550@york.ac.uk. All data will be anonymised and I will be collecting case studies until March 2018. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask.

In the meantime GMWRAG has realised we have never created a “Research” category for this kind of post so, feeling rather dumb, we now have and Alice can have the honour of being the first to be thus categorised 🙂

Benefit sanctions and the rule of law.

Nicely linking in with the recent go live on our Greater Manchester Strategic Casework Group pages, and the update we’ll be providing at the Stockport GMWRAG meeting next Friday about our plans to push public law remedies, we are pleased to note that the following course is taking place in Manchester. Whilst this event is specifically aimed at tackling benefit sanctions the ideas discussed will have applicability across the board on social security.

Events: Public Law and Judicial Review North: Benefit Sanctions and the Rule of Law

Location: Manchester

Address: BPP LAW SCHOOL, ST JAMES’S BUILDING OXFORD STREET MANCHESTER M1 6FQ

Start date: July 20 2017

A conference on the impact and potential responses to sanctioning and other public law issues for advisers, advocates, lawyers,campaigning organisations, NGO’s and legal services in public bodies

BOOK NOW

PDF PROGRAMME 9.30 ARRIVAL AND REGISTRATION 10.00 INTRODUCTION Alison Pickup, Legal Director, Public Law Project 10.05 BENEFIT SANCTIONS AND THE RULE OF LAW Michael Adler, Emeritus Professor of Socio-Legal Studies, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh 10.35 HOW THE FIRST TIER TRIBUNAL (FTT) DEALS WITH SANCTIONS FOLLOWING ‘REILLY’ Stewart Wright, Judge of the Upper Tribunal 11.05 BREAK 11.20 RESEARCH ON THE IMPACT OF BENEFIT SANCTIONS Richard Crellin, Policy Officer, The Children’s Society 11.40 TOP PUBLIC LAW CASES OF THE YEAR Matt Stanbury, Garden Court North Chambers & Alastair Wallace, Irwin Mitchell 12.20: MORNING BREAKOUT SESSIONS CHOOSE ONE OF THREE BELOW

  1. Public law remedies and sanctioning Sanctions can have a very serious and long-lasting effect on claimants’ lives, but challenging them is frequently difficult and time consuming. Come to this session and learn how to: – write a complaint letter which gets results; – speed up appeals; – spot and fund test case litigation; – use judicial review in urgent cases; – win damages for discriminatory treatment Tom Royston, Garden Court North & Katy Watts, Public Law Project 2. Public law workshop Open discussion about how to challenge recurrent themes and systemic problems faced by clients and service users dealing with public bodies. Alison Pickup, Public Law Project 3. Interim relief in review cases Practice and proceedure in urgent judicial review cases. Ian Brownhill QC, No 5 Chambers

13.15 Lunch

AFTERNOON SESSION Chair: Pete Weatherby QC, Garden Court North chambers

14.10 Anti-social behaviour legislation, poverty and discrimination The use of injunctions and other ‘remedies’ against vulnerable people on the streets James Stark, Garden Court North Chambers

14.40 Article 6 in Social Welfare Law Nathalie Lieven QC, Landmark Chambers

15.10 Break

15.25 Afternoon breakouts: 15.25 – 16.25

CHOOSE ONE OF THREE BELOW

  1. Bringing an Equality Act claim in the County Court concerning housing, benefits or education Practice, procedure and common legal aid problems arising in county court discrimination claims, including those brought by way of counterclaim. Joseph Markus, Garden Court North Chambers & Clare Fowler, Howells LLP
  2. Developing sustainable advice services This is a workshop aimed at NfP’s in the advice sector, and will cover common issues in development and governance for NFP advice services. Mark Schwenk, barrister Kenworthy Chambers and Management Committee Member, Greater Manchester Law Centre & Matthew Howgate of Matthew Howgate Consulting & Chris Minnoch, Operations Director, Legal Aid Practitioners Group (LAPG)
  3. Litigating the cuts – an update Oliver Carter, Irwin Mitchell & David Wolfe QC, Matrix Chambers

16.25 Brexit and Benefits Dr Charlotte O’Brien, York Law School

16.55 Closing Address: Access to justice and the Rule of Law Pete Weatherby QC, Garden Court North Chambers

17.15 Finish Standard fee: £192 (£160+VAT) per delegate – private practice and public bodies. Discounted fee: £90 (£75 + VAT) per delegate – Charities, voluntary sector, academics, students, trainee solicitors, pupils and barristers within 2 years of admission. Advisers: £72 (£60 + VAT) per delegate including caseworkers, advisers in CAB’s, Age UK, student advisers and lay advocates working in the voluntary sector. 5% off any online payments 50% off third delegate when 3 book from the same organisation at the same time. Fees include refreshments and lunch. This conference is presented with the supprt of Garden Court North Chambers, BPP Law School and Irwin Mitchell Solicitors.

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…

Benefits, safe-guarding and vulnerability. Bedtime reading for the Trafford GMWRAG meeting.

GMWRAG doesn’t often set members background reading but if you’re coming to our Trafford meeting in September then you’ll need to be up to speed on where we’re up to with benefits, safeguarding and vulnerability. The discussion is part of a necessary move towards maintaining a rights based approach to benefits advice by increasingly bringing to bear legislation from outside the social security sphere. The finest examples of this would of course be the increasing use of EU legislation; directives and so on and, more recently, the use of the Equality Act 2010 to challenge DWP practice and policy.

Our first September speaker, Louise Tanner, has put together some background reading to give people a feel for the range of the topic. You can download and read this from our site but before you do we suggest you have a look at the discussion forums hosted by our mates over at Rightsnet.

We recommend a read of

If these don’t give you a feel for the breadth and reach of the subject, as well as the potential for challenging the DWP and local authorities then, er, you probably haven’t read them! See you in Trafford.