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.

A record (legal) high.

That moment when you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

GMWRAG has inevitably suffered along with our members over the past few years of austerity as we’ve seen member organisations and well-respected individual members find themselves on the wrong end of significant cuts and areas of Greater Manchester and indeed the North West of England become advice deserts. During the past 5 years we have worked hard to maintain the usefulness of our site and group but it has been a battle. The number of views tell their own story. Back in 2013 we hit a peak of 12,261 views over the whole year but this dropped dramatically a year later to 11,346 and we have done well to keep numbers over 9,000 in the intervening years.

Whilst austerity is still being foisted on many of our members with the inevitable consequences on both them and their clients it does seem as though things have stabilised to some extent and there’s some small belated recognition that advice saves more money than it will ever consume. Good to read therefore about proposals to build more law centres and to see some services which have struggled in recent years holding steady.

Over here at GMWRAG HQ we’ve been pleased to note that our numbers are back on the rise and significantly so. Our views for this year already significantly exceed those for each of the past 3 years and are currently the 3rd highest in our history and rising. Additionally we have just exceeded 1,000 view per month for 4 times in a row for the 1st time in our history.

In part this is clearly a reflection of the sheer volume we have been posting but it’s also clear that it’s also a measure of the fact many of you are still out there and thriving and the concern about those issues about which we have posted e.g. Universal Credit.

We’d also like to thank many of you for being “social” and sharing our many ramblings across social meejah. You’ve shared our posts 8,180 times over the past 9 years including Facebook 1,434 times. Interestingly you’ve shared our stuff 1,326 times on Reddit (no, us neither) and on Twitter a mere 928 times.

Amusingly our most shared post was one on something which did not come to pass (the transfer of AA to local authority funding). Perhaps depressingly the single most viewed thing on our site (after the home page) is our copy of the ESA 3 change of circumstances form.

Some people do actually think there is a GMWRAG HQ! We think we could get them PIP!

GMWRAG updates.

Please note that GMWRAG has deactivated our Facebook account with a view to deleting it permanently in due course. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • posts from this site automatically post onto our social media accounts but only Twitter has seen that information shared or commented upon.
  • Members have never approached GMWRAG for information via Facebook and there has only been one occasion when members offered apologies for attendance at a meeting via Facebook.
  • Non-members have repeatedly sought benefits advice and, whilst we have sought to direct and assist, this is untenable in terms of the amount of time it takes.
  • Facebook makes regular changes to its processes compared to other social media companies and this alone makes it difficult to keep up; difficult to manage correctly and so on. The introduction of a separate messaging application further complicated this.

Please accept our apologies if you have enjoyed following GMWRAG on Facebook but our priority has to be an up to date web site linking members into meetings, consultations and so on.

In the meantime we have also taken the opportunity to review aspects of how this site works and we have

  • done a hopefully thorough trawl of all the links posted on the right side of every page within the site and ensured that all broken links are updated or fixed.
  • reduced the post count and widgets (those little boxes of information on the right side of each page) on the home page to make it easier for members to locate currently relevant posts having had repeated comments that members could not locate information about the next meeting. No excuse now 🙂

Welfare Action Gathering – Saturday the 9th of July 2016 in Manchester.

Boycott Welfare poster for Welfare Action meetingBoycott Workfare will be holding its 3rd Welfare Action Gathering on Saturday the 9th of July 2016  at The Mechanics’ Institute, 103 Princess St, Manchester M1 6DD
between 11am – 4.30pm. The event is supported by Unite Community Manchester. They’re inviting groups and individuals from across the country to join them.

They will be coming together in Manchester to share ideas, tactics and concerns about current and future attacks on welfare. It will be a day of learning from each other and an opportunity to plan how to work together to continue to defend these fundamental rights.

Previous gatherings have seen the sharing of a huge wealth of knowledge and acted as catalysts for further successes in their fightback. At a time of continuing attempts to undermine basic rights to welfare and dignity, it is vital that those opposing these injustices come together in solidarity, to support our related struggles and exchange our expertise.


The day will be arranged around participant-based workshops, with opportunities for less structured discussions.

Themes for workshops so far include:

  • What does Universal Credit mean for welfare activists and claimants? How will the landscape of welfare change under Universal Credit? What are the opportunities for fighting back? Where should this fight-back focus its energies?
  • Strategies for activists – how can claimants and non-claimants work together to challenge sanctions and workfare?
  • Fighting the the misuse of psychology in workfare and welfare – a workshop from Mental Health Resistance Network.
  • Making use of health and safety rules to combat exploitation. What are the rights of those being sent on workfare? How can these rights be used to prevent workfare?
  • Leaflets and Communication: analysis and strategy sharing. What gaps are there in terms of knowledge sharing? Which leaflets have been successful and effective? What makes them useful? What have been successful strategies for online communication? Where are there gaps? How can we support related campaigns and organisations?

We’ll also be screening some films

If you would like to help lead or facilitate one of these workshops, please get in touch. Likewise if you have an idea for a further session, or if there’s something that you think it’s important to cover that isn’t addressed at the moment, please suggest it. The broader the range of voices and ideas, the better. Contact Liam at

Food, Transport and Access

Obviously, no-one (despite what the DWP believe) can work on a empty stomach, so free and tasty lunch, snacks and refreshments will be provided. Boycott Workfare also have a budget for helping with transport costs to and from the gathering, for those near and far, so please get in touch about this too.

The Mechanic’s Institute is a 0.4 mile walk from Manchester Piccadilly train station. The venue is fully wheelchair accessible. A creche will be available throughout the day.

This Welfare Action Gathering offers a chance to celebrate our successes, share how they were achieved, and to focus our energies on the future struggles ahead. It also offers an opportunity to put faces to the names of people that you have been communicating with. There’s a Facebook event here.

Go and join then for a day of information sharing, discussion, bonding, and fun!

Contact Liam at to register your interest or if you have any queries.