UC deductions presentations from the GMWRAG GM UC meeting now available.

GMWRAG is pleased to say we were given immediate permission to share the two presentations from Wednesday’s GMWRAG GM UC Meeting. These can be found permanently on the relevant pages. However, for the convenience of all they are also available below.

Anyone who attended the meeting on MS Teams will still have access within Teams to the chat which accompanied the meeting and you should also be able to access the presentations within the Files tab there.

A date and topic for the next GMWRAG GM UC Forum has not been set but at least one topic has been suggested. If anyone has suggestions for the next meeting please contact GMWRAG by email and we’ll go from there.

GMWRAG GM UC Forum – a quick reminder for tomorrow.

GMWRAG has “tested the tech” (Microsoft Teams for those of you not paying attention) and we’re happy that we’re all “good to go” for tomorrow afternoon’s resumption of the GMWRAG GM UC Forum at 2:30pm online. 

The agenda for the meeting has previously been published and you’ll be aware we have 2 presentations on UC/deductions and plenty of opportunity for questions. We’ll have plenty of people in attendance but places are still available if you’re a GM welfare rights adviser. Simply email GMWRAG and we’ll send you a meeting request. See also here for the initial announcement of the meeting.

By the time you read this we will have sent out, as previously promised, one final updated meeting request. That doesn’t stop us adding more names if you would like to attend. A link to join the meeting should be within that Meeting Request.

Whilst the meeting kicks off at 2:30pm and we will spend some time going through some basic video meeting etiquette GMWRAG hopes to open things up around 2:15/2:20pm to give everyone a chance to get in on time and sort out (most) technical issues.

Please note that at the end of the meeting we will need to define an agenda and time-scale for the next meeting and we are hopeful there will be one quick final item as the estimable Mr. Dan Manville of GM Law Centre pops in talk about another GMWRAG sub-group – the GMWRAG GM Strategic Casework Group.

Agenda now available for the GMWRAG GM UC Video Meeting on the 22nd of July 2020.

Further to our recent post about the next GMWRAG GM UC Forum which will take place as an MS Teams video meeting on Wednesday the 22nd of July 2020 at 2:30pm until approximately 4pm.

GMWRAG members will hopefully need little reminder that the sole topic for this meeting is deductions from UC.

The agenda for the meeting is now available and will broadly run as follows:

Welcome and Meeting Protocol/Ground Rules – Mike Hughes, Salford Welfare Rights and Debt Advice Service.

Introduction to the deductions issue – Penny Applegate, Bolton Partnership Manager.

Universal Credit Deductions Policy – Craig Dutton, UC Policy Design.

a. How deductions policy works.
b. Inability to predict the actual amount of UC that will be paid.
c. Non Affordability.

Historic deductions – Katy Costello, Deductions Operations.

Question and answer session.

Next meeting timings and agenda to be agreed.

Please note that, as per the last post, anyone wanting to attend this meeting needs to let us know ideally no later than the 15th of July 2020.

There is no limit on the number of attendees but if we can’t send you a Teams meeting invite then unfortunately you won’t be able to attend. Please see the previous post linked to above in order to register for the meeting. 

We look forward to seeing and hearing you all on the 22nd.

DWP Health Transformation User Research.

A group of user researchers working in the Health Transformation Programme at DWP, specifically focussed on understanding and improving claimant experiences of PIP need to undertake regular research with claimants claiming benefits, as well as the organisations and people who support them, to explore perceptions and experiences and test ideas for improving the service.

A piece of work is currently underway looking at Orientation into PIP; how people find out about PIP, what they understand it to be, what they understand about eligibility etc., to inform how we think about improving experiences. Other active work is looking at the Apply journey, with the focus somewhat changed to quickly ensure applications can be made digitally as part of the COVID-19 response.

These are just 2 examples and across teams they are working on the end to end journey so there’s lots of work going on, which will be the case for the foreseeable future, and the input of claimants and their representatives is key to getting it right for the future.

They are aiming to build a network of contacts who can support with involving the right participants in their work, so at this stage are linking in with different groups to understand whether they can support and if so, the best ways to approach this with them.

They are flexible in terms of approach; for example, they have created content for newsletters, websites and emailers and spoken at group meetings regarding research, sharing contact details for people to get involved. With some contacts they have simply had a conversation and have asked their clients (claimants) if they might be interested in getting involved and then shared details. They like to work with individuals and organisations to determine what will work best for them and tailor the approach accordingly.

If this feels like an area you may be able to help they’d love to set up a call to discuss further, getting an ‘in’ for a conversation with third parties and charities can be our greatest challenge so any advice, support or contacts would be hugely appreciated. The best starting point is to send a message to health.userresearch@dwp.gsi.gov.uk – a secure inbox accessible only to 4 PIP user researchers and so ensuring a swift response.

They look forward to hearing from you.

Health Transformation Programme PIP User Research

Meeting cancellation (sort of) – number 2.

The next GMWRAG meeting was listed for Friday the 15th of May 2020. Previous posts on the meeting can be found here and here.

This included the a.m. GM UC Forum which this time around was to have a focus solely on deductions. Obviously, recent events have rendered this never more relevant but things are moving fast on multiple fronts and the logical thing to do at present is to cancel and reschedule the meeting asap. 

The reasoning for this is as follows:

1 – our full day meetings now clash with a special Covid-19 NAWRA event online with two interactive workshops focusing on the current benefit changes, homeworking issues and dealing with new ways of working. Read the agenda. It’s not obvious how you join (so if someone could tell us, that would be good).

2 – Friday is not ordinarily a working day for a number of GM Partnership Managers and obviously we would like as many as possible in the room.

3 – Taking the meeting online requires finding applications that allows DWP to appear remotely but also allows access forGMWRAG members. That’s not an issue we have fully resolved yet although we’ll be polling members on some options asap to move that forward.

4 – Advance notice of the meeting has (for once) allowed DWP to contact specialist colleagues in Deductions Operations to attend but the latter have been re-deployed to other tasks in the same way as Partnership teams. Thus July would be the earliest feasible time to do this.

GMWRAG will happily apologise for the lateness of the cancellation and would ask all members to complete the various polls on key questions about how we move forward which we’ll post up as soon as time allows.

Stay safe and well.

Fraudulent website warning. Probably the first of many.

Apologies if you have read this elsewhere but DWP have issued this warning this week. We, sadly, have little doubt this will be the first of many.

There is a new Fraudulent website that is going round on Facebook saying

“For your free £258 award from the Government to assist you during the Coronavirus outbreak, just enter your bank details”.

The pages look authentic as a real Government website, then it may encourage people to input their personal information/bank details.

Please remind residents not to share their bank account details on any ‘possible’ Government offers on Social Media as that is not how Government Departments deliver their business. DWP Fraud teams & Police are aware of these scam websites and in the process of investigating and closing them down.

Key Messages:

  • DWP, along with many other government departments, are sometimes targeted with fraudulent activity. Please be vigilant and report any suspicious activity.
  • Do not share your personal information with anyone else, as this may be used for fraudulent activity.
  • Protecting your personal information can help reduce your risk of identity theft.
  • If you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the DWP and doubt their legitimacy – please do not share your personal information. Report any suspicious contact immediately.
  • Criminal gangs are targeting people to obtain their personal information. If in doubt, please do not share your personal information. Report any suspicious contact immediately.
  • If someone approaches you claiming to be from DWP, always ask for ID.
  • Report any suspicious contact immediately on www.actionfraud.police.uk or phone 0300 123 2040

Belta UC scam advice from Newcastle.

This information is courtesy of our friend in the NAWRA.

Newcastle City Council has provided advice and information about the UC scam(s) going around. Please use or forward this information if useful.

As you know there’s been quite a bit of press about this. So we thought it would be important to provide simple and straightforward guidance about what it was, how to avoid it and what to do if such a scam was suspected. Hence the following (with links):

This follows discussions with DWP and Trading Standards.

Please let Clive Davis at Newcastle City Council know if you think the webpage information could be improved as they can always change it.

Blatant plagiarism in the name of a good cause.

GMWRAG noted the following posted on Rightsnet. We think this is too important to miss so we’re reprinting it in full below.

CPAG is partway through releasing a series of reports entitled Computer says “No” detailing problems arising in the automated UC system.  These hard-hitting reports wouldn’t be possible without your case studies, so thank you! It’d be great to receive some up-to-date examples which may contribute to the third and final report in the series.

1. Many of you have already seen our first Computer says “No” report detailing issues with UC statements [available here: http://www.cpag.org.uk/sites/default/files/Computer says ‘no!’ Stage one – information provision_2.pdf]

2. Our second report is due to be released next week, and will set out the problems encountered by claimants in challenging UC decisions (i.e. using the MR process). So do keep an eye out for it.

3. The third report will focus on how the DWP implements decisions (other than those concerning initial calculation of entitlement).  We’re interested to hear about recent cases of:
a) DWP delay in implementing Tribunal decision in UC
b) DWP delay or mistake in paying backdated UC entitlement
c) UC statements overwritten with corrected entitlement, not reflecting actual payments made
d) UC claim start date amended and assessment periods changed from start of claim
e) Possession case adjournments/ suspended orders requiring rent arrears payments lower than standard 10-20% deductions made in UC
f) Debt Relief Orders writing off UC Advances, or other debts, being ignored
g) Failure to apply legal judgments effectively e.g. Faulty SDP gateway, High Court Johnson assessment period ruling

The above are all issues that you’ve told us about before, but recent examples would help us ascertain whether they remain unresolved and if so, add to the strength of our report.

Many thanks for any and all contributions!

Best way to submit cases is our online EWS form: https://childpovertyactiongroup.wufoo.com/forms/m1vc0zeg1sr9zgh/
or email ews@cpag.org.uk

No direct line? Talk to the DWP.

Researchers at the Department for Work and Pensions would like to speak to advisers in organisations who work with benefit claimants but don’t have any sort of formal relationship with the department.

The DWP is particularly interested in finding out how organisations with no direct line to the department would raise any queries they have for the DWP – for example, would they go online, or call the claimant helpline?

At the moment, they’re concerned that their research is largely dominated by external partners who have an established relationship with the DWP.

The interviews themselves will take place via telephone and last about 30/45 minutes. A researcher from the DWP will call you at a time and date that is most convenient for you. They’re interested in both national and local perspectives on this issue so please do get in contact even if you’re unsure whether you suit the bill – you probably do!

GMWRAG is aware DWP don’t exactly have a great reputation when it comes to keeping the promise of a call back but on this occasion we think it’s worth persevering.

If you’re interested in taking part in the research please email Hannah McLennan, the research officer working on this project.