GMWRAG isn’t tracking the general election but…

GMWRAG has exhausted itself electing a new GM (Greater Manchester NOT genetically modified!) Mayor and has little enthusiasm for closely tracking the forthcoming General Election. However, we’re happy to point our members to a few resources which will help you do so if you wish. It is already very noticeable that this is not going to be an election in which welfare reform and poverty are at the top of anyone’s list.

The BBC have helpfully produced an election tracker, which you can find at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2017-39844115 or by clicking the magic words in this sentence. “Welfare” comes in at 11th on the number of things they’re tracking although you could argue that “Pensions” coming in at 5th has some significance! Lots of tabloids are tracking little more than who the pundits think will win but you could invest some of your diminishing faith in pollsters following the excess of statistics at Electoral Calculus.

Of more interest our friends at Rightsnet have identified at least three suggestions for manifestos. GMWRAG thinks it’s worthwhile digesting all three but may wonder out loud whatever happened to campaigning to change things rather than asking for tweaks to the status quo? Can Universal Credit ever be made to work, or make work pay (as opposed to merely function in the former case!)? No mention of the mess which is the Benefit Cap or even DHPs!

– Citizens Advice: Citizens Advice has 5 big asks for the next government
– CPAG: Election 2017 manifesto
– The Law Society: Law Society unveils election manifesto for Brexit Britain

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CPAG legal challenge – do you have a client affected by the two child limit to tax credits/ universal credit?

Do you have any clients who will be affected by the recent legislative changes to Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit due to come into effect 6 April 2017?

The Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 introduced fundamental changes to Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit, limiting child tax credit and universal credit to the first two children in a household. These changes, commonly known as the 2 child rule, will come into force from the 6th of April 2017 together with certain exceptions and transitional arrangements set out in recently published regulations.

The Child Poverty Action Group is looking into the possible routes of legal challenge to the 2 child rule and would like your help in locating potential claimants who would be affected by this rule and who would be willing to be part of a CPAG legal challenge.

CPAG is looking in general for:

  • Any family already claiming benefits with two children and looking to have more in the near future

But also the following particular types of households which may be unfairly affected by the rule (though this is not an exhaustive list of examples):

  • Two lone parent household units already with two children each considering forming a single ‘blended family’ arrangement because the adults have become a couple;
  • An individual or couple caring for one or two ‘kinship’ children but contemplating having children of their own;
  • A family which, when the children were born, did not require state support but now has a need to because of an unexpected change in circumstances (e.g. loss of a job); and
  • A parent who is religiously or philosophically opposed to birth control.

If you can help, please complete the attached test case referral form (save it to your computer first) and email it to testcases@cpag.org.uk

CPAG-Test-case-referral-form

 

CPAG looking for test cases to challenge the Benefit Cap.

CPAG is looking for test cases to challenge the benefit cap. If you are an adviser and have clients currently affected by the cap or who are likely to be affected when the cap is reduced in November 2016, CPAG would like to hear from you. Please complete the referral form here (save it to your computer first). Alternatively, email Testcases@cpag.org.uk

The form can also be downloaded from GMWRAG here.

There’s more information about the benefit cap on CPAG’s website but it’s also worth having a read of

Sophie Earnshaws blog on the impact of the reduced cap.

The New Statesman on 5 reasons why the cap is wrong.

The Guardian on the caps lack of compatibility with the UN convention on the rights of the child.

Benefit Tales on the rise of in work poverty.

CPAG Welfare Rights Conferences 2016 – Universal Credit: Next Steps.

CPAGs 2016 Welfare Rights Conference focuses on the challenges facing families as the roll out of Universal Credit accelerates.

The next few years will bear witness to a huge change in the welfare rights environment, with the full Universal Credit service set to be rolled out to over one hundred local authority areas during 2016-17, and across all 381 local authorities by June 2018.

Increasingly, families and the advisers working with families will need to understand how Universal Credit is supposed to work, who wins and who loses, and the lessons to learn from the early implementation of the new system.

With expert speakers, a range of focused workshops and the opportunity to network and share ideas with welfare rights workers, policy workers and other advisers from across the country, the conference is not to be missed. With both conferences expected to sell out, please book early to avoid disappointment.

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

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

Workshops

You can attend two workshops from the list below.

Universal Credit Housing Costs
David Simmons, Welfare Rights Worker at CPAG

Universal Credit Digital Roll-Out
Simon Osborne, Welfare Rights Worker at CPAG

ESA ‘Substantial Risk’
Dan Norris and Nizam Ahmed, Welfare Rights Workers at CPAG

Human Rights Challenges
Sophie Earnshaw, CPAG Trainee Solicitor and Martin Williams, Welfare Rights Worker at CPAG

Venue

Our Manchester venue is the University of Manchester Innovation Centre, Core Technology Facility, 46 Grafton Street, Manchester, M13 9NT.

Our London venue is Resource for London, 356 Holloway Road, London, N7 6PA.

Exhibition Space

We will have an exhibition space at both conferences hosting exhibitors showcasing their work, products and services. If you are interested in exhibiting at our conference, 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, are

  • £130 for a voluntary organisation and
  • £175 for statutory and lawyers.

The Early Bird booking price – valid before the 11th of July 2016 – is

  • £115 for a voluntary organisation and
  • £150 for statutory and lawyers.

To book place(s) please complete our 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.

  • North (Manchester) Thursday the 8th of September 2016.
  • South (London) Friday the 16th of September 2016.

BOOK NOW

CPAG looking for case studies on Bedroom Tax and DHPs.

is urgently looking for case studies following the Court of Appeal’s decision in R(Rutherford) v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions [2016] EWCA Civ 29, which is to be appealed to the Supreme Court.

They are keen to hear if any advisers have come across the following situations with regards to Bedroom Tax and Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs):

  • Families with disabled children who have been affected by the Housing Benefit size criteria (or ‘the Bedroom Tax’) because they need an extra room for a carer or carers to stay overnight.
  • Instances where families have been refused DHPs because the local authority has exhausted its fund for these particular payments.

The families may be renting in the private or the social rented sector.

If you are an adviser who has seen people in either situation, please send a private message or email CPAG on testcases@cpag.org.uk before the 10th of February 2016.

CPAG looking for GPoW test cases.

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) have been examining the legal arguments surrounding the “Genuine Prospect of Work” (GPoW) test applied to EEA nationals, which the vast majority are failing to meet resulting in the loss of income based JSA and Housing Benefit.

CPAG have funding from the Strategic Legal Fund to support challenges to the test and are looking for test cases and have a barrister, Tom Royston, in Manchester who has expertise in this area of law.

CPAG are interested in hearing from you regarding cases which feature any of the following;

1. Are currently before the Upper Tribunal or awaiting permission to appeal to the UT;

2. Have been refused at First Tier Tribunal on the basis that the claimant did not have “compelling evidence”

3. Has been allowed by a First Tier Tribunal on the basis that the GPoW is unlawful

4. Has been allowed by the First Tier Tribunal on the basis the claimant has compelling evidence but the DWP have only awarded benefit for a time-limited period of 2 months from date of original decision. If you have a case which fits any of the above please email: testcases@cpag.org.uk with a description of the case (300 words) and if available, copies of the tribunal’s decision notice and statement of reasons.