Details of the next meeting of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group.

The next meeting will on Friday the 28th of September 2018 at 9.30am for a 10am start.

We have changed venue. This meeting will be in the Community Room at Central Manchester Fire Station, Cassidy Close off Thompson Street, Manchester M4 5FP.

It’s a short walk from Piccadilly and there is a car park on Thompson Street.

The Community Room has its own entrance. Please don’t enter the Fire Station by any other entrance.

From Cassidy Close you take the first turning on the left. Walk towards the building and then turn left again. You should now be at the back of the building. Walk towards a set of double doors under an overhang. The entrance to the Community Room is on the right just before you reach the double doors.

We don’t have a speaker for this meeting, so it will be an information exchange.

We are looking for a speaker on Universal Credit for a future meeting, so if anyone knows someone who could talk to us about hints and tips on claiming under Full Service, please contact Helen Rogers.

We had been looking for a speaker on the Equality Act and Jo Chimes of the Equality and Diversity Forum has kindly agreed to speak to us. She has worked alongside the Equality and Human Rights Commission on this issue.  As a number of other groups in the area have also approached Jo to speak at their meetings, we are holding this meeting in conjunction with GMWRAG and the Greater Manchester Strategic Casework Group.  This means the meeting will be a day long event and will be on Friday the 18th of January 2019. More details are already available at https://gmwrag.wordpress.com/2018/09/14/gmwrag-attempts-to-bend-time-and-space-2019-here-we-come-with-another-big-announcement although it’s unlikely all NWMHWRAG members can be accommodated as the room holds 50 people and both GMWRAG and GMSCG members will want to attend.

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Spring cleaning and a useful resource.

The attention of GMWRAG has been drawn to the excellent leaflet and form produced by Rhondda Cynon Taff CAB and Suffolk Law Centre to give to a work coach to request reasonable adjustments under the Equality Act 2010. A formal request to Jobcentre Plus must produce a response addressing each of your points. This will be useful to take into a first interview when the claimant commitment is being drawn up, or at any point along the line to get it reviewed.

The leaflet is for JSA but obviously would work for UC/ESA as well. You can download a copy from here. GMWRAG believes nothing bad comes from Wales, so there.

Additional to this we want all our members to note that there is a new “Equalities and human rights” forum on Rightsnet. We suspect advisers are going to find this invaluable in the face of the onslaught from Universal Credit full service.

Additional to the above GMWRAG has been doing our annual (well, okay, biannual) spring clean of the web site. This involves testing that all links on the right hand panel of the site remain live (as usual a number were not). As ever we’d appreciate it if members could let us know if they find anything which doesn’t work properly.

You’ll also see a few old posts disappear. Nothing essential. So this will be things like job adverts that we’ve archived on various pages and posts about things to download like minutes which are also stored permanently elsewhere.

The Equality and Diversity Forum launch “Practical Equality Rights in Welfare Benefits” handbook.

Equality and Diversity Forum have now launched their ground-breaking online handbook, Practical Equality Rights in Welfare Benefits Advice, to help everyone providing advice or information on welfare benefits to use equality rights to solve everyday discrimination problems. The handbook is part of the Everyday Equality project, funded by the EHRC.

What is the Practical Equality Rights in Welfare Benefits Advice handbook?

For welfare benefits advisers and information providers working in community groups and advice organisations, the handbook has tips and tools about identifying discrimination. For advisers we have case studies, checklist and tools to help you use the Equality Act to solve your client’s everyday problems in a practical way.

For advice managers, the handbook has a new guide about managing and improving the delivery of discrimination advice.

The handbook also includes a new guide to demonstrating the equality impact of welfare benefits advice, using the Equality and Human Rights Commission Measurement Framework, an A-Z of Equality Rights, a directory of equality resources, FAQs, four downloadable posters, and a downloadable ‘quick guide’.

What’s next?

They are developing a short set of materials to help advice agencies to use the new online handbook and to raise awareness with their advisers. If you are interested in piloting or using these materials please let us know: jo.chimes@edf.org.uk

They are hoping to run a small event later in the year, in Manchester. If you are interested in taking part or attending, please let them know: jo.chimes@edf.org.uk

They would be pleased to hear from you with questions, suggestions and feedback on the handbook. Please contact them at info@edf.org.uk.

View our online handbook or download our quick guide (pdf).

To stay in touch with their work, and for updates to the handbook:

Final chance for GMWRAG members – live streams from the March meeting of the Greater Manchester Strategic Casework Group are still available.

Lucy Cadd from Leigh Day at the March 2018 GMSCG.GMWRAG has been in forgetful mode once again.

Those of you who attended the latest meeting of the Greater Manchester Strategic Casework Group at Garden Court North last week will be well aware that GMWRAG live-streamed two elements of the event via Periscope. For those of you ill-equipped for the middle of the 21st century this means we “broadcast”. Worse still we did it from an iPad!

This was done at relatively short notice so the live event largely passed the world of t’internet by at the time. Subsequently the videos of both speakers have been seen respectively by 114 and 69 viewers, which compares very favourably with the final viewing figure of 128 for our live stream of Matt Ahluwalia of the Public Law Project from the Salford GMWRAG meeting. The difference between the two events being that we completely forgot to do any publicity about our latest live streams subsequent to the event itself. So, here it is…

Above you can see a screen shot from our live stream of Lucy Cadd from Leigh Day who kindly agreed to give us a complete update on the public law priorities of Leigh Day. Lucy speaks for approximately 30 minutes with a couple of contributions from the foot and sonorous voice off screen of Tom Royston. The live stream will be available via Periscope until Good Friday when it will be taken down as agreed with Lucy. You can follow Lucy on Twitter via @Lucycadd.

Below you can see Kester Dean of @KesterRights, which is also his Twitter handle (or account name for you oldies/techilliterates), also in action (fairly literally) at the same meeting. Kester speaks for approximately 25 minutes on the use of the Equality Act 2010 against the DWP in the county court.

Kester Dean from @kesterrights at the March 2018 GMSCG meeting.

Kester has kindly agreed that the stream can remain available via Periscope and it will also be uploaded in due course to the GMWRAG YouTube account so it will be easily accessible for those of you incapable of finding Periscope but perfectly okay with cat videos. As soon as the YouTube upload has gone live we will of course post on here to let you know.

All of this broadly translates to the fact that if you want to see and hear Lucy you need to do so ASAP as the stream will be gone by the end of this week bar a 30 second clip we will use for publicity purposes. If you want to see and hear Kester then you have unlimited time to do so. All we ask between now and the end of Good Friday is 30 minutes of your time before we remove the video of Lucy. Please note that, unlike the live stream at the Salford GMWRAG meeting, we currently have no intention of transcribing the contents of either broadcast because we had multiple minute takers at the SCG meeting and are fairly confident we can capture the main points between us.

Next meeting of the Greater Manchester Strategic Casework Group.

The next meeting of the Greater Manchester Strategic Casework Group will take place on Wednesday the 21st of March 2018. It is a game of two halves and the agenda currently looks as follows:

10:00am to 13:00pm

Garden Court North Chambers, Blackfriars House, Parsonage, Manchester, M3 2JA

Agenda  

1) ‘Rutherford’  and ‘Bedroom Tax’. The case  taken to the Supreme Court.

Sangeeta Enright, formerly caseworker at Ridley and Hall, (solicitors) and Tom Royston of Garden Court Chambers.

2)  Update on ‘ripple-bob’ [working title] – proposal for a share and refer digital platform (and not a discussion on near space astronomical object!).

Jo Chimes, Equality Project Lead at Rossendale Citizens Advice. 

3) Attendees brief activity

Break

4) ‘Small claims courts’ and compensation for claimants, using duties under the  Equality Act 2010 – Kester Dean.

5) Update on some recent JR applications over Universal Credit  and current Court of Appeal stage in the argument regarding applying the Human Rights Act to social security appeals by way of the Carmichael case – Lucy Cadd from Leigh Day solicitors.

6) Cases and issues update, including disputes over reasonableness of home visits for claim assessments.

7) Any other business.

Details of what we’re doing in the afternoon will have already been circulated to the small select group of invitees (that’s got you intrigued :)). More information as we have it.

For those new to the Strategic Casework Group, its purposes are:

  • use a strategic approach to stop wrong and harmful decisions and actions by the DWP,  its agents, and HMRC, alongside revisions and appeals
  • share experience, knowledge and practice as widely as possible
  • use the Equality Act 2010, public law duties and human rights legislation
  • promote the take up of this approach, with advisors and others
  • produce strategic casework materials, provide training, and develop process for referrals to specialist legal advice and representation

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.

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.

Equality and Welfare Reform Transformation Project job vacancy.

Equality & Welfare Reform Transformation Project

Project Lead – 30 hours per week, actual salary £24,324 per annum (£30,000 pro-rata)

Citizens Advice Rossendale and Hyndburn have secured 3 years funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation to deliver a new and exciting project, which aims to address inequalities and poor decision making within the welfare benefit system that adversely affects vulnerable and disadvantaged people. This will be achieved through specialist casework, gathering evidence to influence fairer practices and policies and developing links with legal advice providers both locally and nationally. This is a unique opportunity to make a real difference.

The Project Lead will have overall responsibility for managing and delivering the project in line with its aims and objectives, working alongside the Project Support Assistant and reporting to the Chief Officer.

The ideal candidate will have experience of giving welfare benefit advice and have knowledge of the impact of recent welfare reform. You will also have knowledge of the Equality Act 2010 and how this is applied in advice giving. You will need excellent interpersonal and presentation skills and the ability to communicate with a wide variety of audiences. This post requires travel locally and nationally, a full driving licence is required and access to a car or otherwise able to fulfil the travel requirement.

An application pack, including the job description and personal specification, is available on our website www.rossendalecab.org.uk as well as on the foregoing links. To request an application pack, please email admin@rossendalecab.cabnet.org.uk or phone 01706 252012. Please note that CVs will not be accepted without an application form.

If you would like an informal chat, please contact Rachel Whippy on 01706 252 012/01254 304 110.

Closing date: Monday the 26th of June 2017, 5pm

Interview date: week commencing 10th July 2017

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.