Manchester GMWRAG meeting agenda now available plus important information if you are attending.

The agenda for the Manchester GMWRAG meeting is now available for download. The minutes of the last meeting remain available from our meetings pages.

As we have previously detailed, the meeting takes place at Manchester Town Hall on Friday the 17th of June 2016. We can now confirm that we have 3 speakers around the ongoing concerns on the impact of benefit sanctions.

The speakers are:

  • Catherine Connors, Skills and Work Board Business Manager – talking about “DWP Benefit Conditionality and Sanctions In Salford – One Year On”.
  • Dr. Lisa Scullion, Research Fellow at Salford Housing and Urban Studies Unit at the University of Salford – talking about
  • Kester Dean, Salford Unemployed and Community Resource Centre – talking about legal challenges to benefit sanctions and conditionality.

You can find more about the speakers via our previous post.

The meeting will open at 9:30am for a 10:00am start. Please note that, despite our having three speakers, the meeting is a half day and it is intended to close the meeting no later than 1:00pm.


As per previous posts about this meeting it remains the case that we find ourselves in the unusual position of needing to ask members for an indication as to who will be attending the meeting so passes can be issued in advance for visitors. We are checking out whether we can herd you into one meeting place and take you through security but, in the meantime, members should email Robin Serjeant at Manchester at to confirm your attendance.

If you do not confirm your attendance to Robin we cannot guarantee that you will be allowed in. There is currently additional security in place because of the Referendum.

The two of you who contacted us to say you could attend the Thursday meeting… well we hope you can make the Friday. The other one… don’t worry we’ll forward all your emails to Robin.


What have the Romans ever done for us!

You may remember that part of The Life Of Brian where Reg wants to know what the Romans have ever done. If you don’t then you should read it in full. The list is long and funny. GMWRAG members will note a similar spate of articles peppering the media in a lead up to the EU referendum on the 23rd of June 2016 and indeed some concerns. What indeed has the EU done for us?

For many of us our introduction to the European dimension of social security and its impact on our legislation started, and perhaps ended, with EC Directive 79/7. Compare and contrast nowadays to a quick visit to Rightsnet where entire sections are now dedicated to the consequences of positive European legislation and caselaw and the consequences, intended or otherwise of governments attempts to interpret, apply or challenge that. Either way it’s inarguable that Europe has had a huge impact on welfare rights advice in Great Britain.

From a broader rights perspective there is much to ponder. It can be argued that the EU has supported women’s rights through supporting maternity rights and promoting equal pay for women. It has embedded anti-discrimination and human rights law for disabled people and many of our diverse and local communities. This has impacted considerably in welfare rights. It has brought regional development spending and skills training in more deprived regions through the European Social Fund. It has promoted two-way free movement of people and trade, bringing respect and opportunity and the challenge of advising ever changing migrant populations. We often frame this type of discussion only in terms immigration, employment and prejudice. It can also be framed in terms of holidays, study and retirement.

Talking of which, equalisation of pension ages. Guess where that started!

Much of our current consumer protection derives from Europe including food labelling and cheaper phone calls. Ditto our environmental protection. Cleaner rivers, air and especially beaches all derive from the EU forcing the pace. That cheaper wine you’re drinking. Mostly down to the EU.

Health is as difficult an area as others but lets’ not forget that what we know now about Thalidomide would be much less had our media not been able to challenge an injunction against publication back in 1979… in Europe! Human rights? Do we need to add anything?

Are there criticisms of each of the above? Of course. Interesting though to read the Full Facts take on who makes our laws.

Has the EU brought peace? We’ll leave that one to you! However, it has forever changed the landscape of welfare rights.