An update from our friends at Leigh Day.

GMWRAG was doubtless amongst many who received a recent update from Leigh Day. This is a timely reminder of how strategic casework might never be more relevant. However, as the email began with “Alright…” some editing was in order 🙂

They think we are going to have a lot of work on unpicking the government response to Coronavirus, in particular in relation to the administration of benefits. A lot of people are going to become reliant on benefits for the first time and potentially for an extended period of time.

They have one JR already in relation to the requirement for ‘self-employed’ workers to claim UC rather than get SSP or benefit from furlough payments (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/mar/22/rishi-sunak-under-pressure-to-bail-out-self-employed)

They are looking at the failure to raise legacy benefits in line with what has been done with UC. If GMWRAG members know of any rare person who is entitled SDP and self employed and also on legacy benefits they would be perfect for this but anyone impacted could potentially claim.

They would also be interested to know if any JCP’s are sanctioning people for failing to comply with conditionality at this time.

Welfare benefits advisers are going to be the first people to see the impact of any issues the changes made are having on the benefits system. If you spot anything you think is particularly grim and/or widespread and worth a challenge and want to talk it through please do let them know.

GMWRAG meetings part 2.

You may have been expecting the next GMWRAG post to be something about Covid-19. It is not (much).

Further to our recent post re: the next meeting of the NWMHWRAG we have been advised by Greater Manchester Law Centre via Twitter that they will “get the kettle on”. Better still the email which told us that all those complex instructions on how to get there – “press a buzzer and wait for someone to let you in.” – can be superseded as “The buzzer’s broke; just let yourselves in.”. We’re not sure this is the safest advice but go with it and see what happens.

GMWRAG takes no responsibility for people stood outside like lemons waiting for something to happen.

Those of you awaiting confirmation that the next GMWRAG meeting is cancelled will have to wait a little longer. At present, the meeting proceeds on the 15th of May 2020 albeit that our intended speaker @citizenbradshaw has been told to step down by his wife because he’s on holiday. Yes, you really did just read that correctly 🙂

A replacement speaker (also from Leigh Day) has been tentatively sorted by the kind Mr. Bradshaw so at present we’re all systems go for both the GM UC meeting and the pm GMWRAG meeting.

North West Thingummy You Know What Group Stuff.

Yeah, essentially there are only so many times in your life you can type North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group or NWMHWRAG and not lose the will to live.

In the background here GMWRAG has people whispering seductively in our ear(s) about adding an extra word/letter to the GMSC but taking 2 letters out in order to make it the NSCG. Now that people is how you do it. They’re probably right too but come on now let’s not forget these things are GMWRAG sub-groups so it should really be the GMWRAG NSCG and the GMWRAG NWMHWRAG. Don’t tempt us or we will insist 🙂

So, yeah, them and.. more stuff.

Firstly, here’s yer minutes. Then here’s, er, stuff.

As if this were not enough joy for one day we must also say that we have been advised that there was some confusion at the last meeting. With a group name like that how could there not be. Oh no, hang on. That wasn’t it.

“There was some confusion about Work Allowances at the meeting.  Speaker Julie Conneely has emailed to clarify:-

To be eligible for a work allowance the claimant (and/or partner) either have

  • Responsibility for a child
  • Limited capability for work

There are two levels

if UCFS includes housing support the work allowance is £287

if UCFS does not include housing support) the work allowance is £503“.

But we knew that didn’t we?!

We will of course be adding the “stuff” to “their” pages as soon as we’ve stopped chortling at our own wit. So, that’s never then?

Oh yeah, and this.

The next meeting of “them” will be on Friday (the – why do we keep having to add in “the” for them?)  27th (of – and “of”) March 2020.

The speaker will be Susan Perry, Team Leader at Disability Services at Chorlton. She will be talking about and taking questions on PIP.

The meeting will be at Greater Manchester Law Centre. More details to follow nearer the time. We think that’ll be the usual don’t wander through the wrong door at the fire station stuff. Nope? Wrong venue. Don’t wander down the middle of the law centre or you’ll be arrested? Something like that? No? Don’t read the letters or they’ll change to N or NWLC? Sigh. Time for a lie down.

How to do judicial review (North) – places still available.

Our lovely friends at the Public Law Project have asked us to point out that their imminent one day course in Manchester on “How to do judicial review” still has places available. The course takes place on Thursday the 11th of July 2019 between 10am and 5:45 pm at 79 Oxford Street, Manchester M1 6FQ.

The course is delivered by colleagues from

and GMWRAG urges members of GMSCG and anyone with an interest in a public law approach to welfare benefits to book your place now. Please do not rule yourself out of this course because you’re a welfare rights adviser and think it doesn’t apply to you.

As PLPs “blurb” says, the course is

“A complete, one day course to provide lawyers and advisers, policy people and decision makers with an understanding of public law principles and how they operate in bringing and defending judicial review claims. The course is also relevant to those working in campaigning organisations with a legal strategy and those representing and advising marginalised groups in society.”

To book a place please go to https://publiclawproject.org.uk/events/how-to-do-judicial-review-north/ and click on the “Book Now” button on the right of the page.

GMSCG updates.

Busy day for GMWRAG. GMSCG members may be wondering when we’re meeting next and how the group fits into the many other things going at present. We’re hopeful we’ll have news on this soon. In the meantime our friends at Rightsnet have brought to our attention what they rightly describe as a “great report” from PLP that “… that uses their experience in working on the ‘RF’ personal independence payment challenge to highlight key lessons about litigation as a means of addressing discrimination and disadvantage”.

As per Rightsnet we’re going to quote from it verbatim

“The research carried out by Dr Lisa Vanhala and Dr Jacqui Kinghan of UCL identifies strategic lessons for third sector organisations that use public law to challenge unfair systems and highlights the ‘pivotal role’ PLP played in coordinating with a wide network of individuals and organisations.

‘Using the law to address unfair systems’ is based on interviews with some of those most involved in the legal challenge, including PLP Deputy Legal Director Sara Lomri, and gives first-hand insights into how NGOs, funders and litigators won the judicial review brought by PLP’s client, RF.

Co-published by The Baring Foundation and Lankelly Chase, the report also looks at the post-litigation ‘legacy’ phase and raises important questions such as how the Government can be held to account to implement such rulings, and who has responsibility for communicating subsequent policy changes to those affected.”

but we’re going to insert proper links 🙂 and strongly suggest that all GMSCG and GMWRAG members download a copy now in preparation for our next meeting.

You can download a copy right now from https://publiclawproject.org.uk/uncategorized/using-the-law-to-address-unfair-systems/

Leigh Day and their Universal Credit Group Claim.

Leigh Day have now set up a web page plus FAQ & online referral form to make the whole process of signing up to their claim(s) a little more convenient. This can be found at: https://www.leighday.co.uk/Employment-discrimination/Current-cases/Universal-Credit-group-action. They have produced separate referral forms tailored for advisers and for individuals.

For their TP & AR linked claims they now have enough claimants to launch the action. They have identified potential lead claimants and will shortly be sending out client care letters to those who have been referred to them or made their own enquiries.

They are also hoping to generate some media interest in the coming weeks. They could do with much higher numbers to make this litigation really effective and that is why they have set up the website. There are 13,000 people out there who have lost out as a result of the wrongheaded implementation of natural migration.

A lot of service users might not have access to the internet so you can still refer people to them by just emailing a name and telephone number. Ryan Bradshaw (a long-standing friend of GMWRAG and GMSCG) and Niall Byrne are available by phone for any enquiries that you might have.

Feel free to circulate this amongst your contacts and colleagues.

Further information for Everyday Equality event this Friday.

GMWRAG has now received version 7 of the agenda for Friday which can be downloaded from this link. We fully anticipate working our way to version 10 before Friday but we thought we’d put this out there to give attendees a flavour of the day in advance.

Please note the following details for accessing the building.

The external door is on Richmond Street. Delegates need to press the buzzer and say they are there for the event in order to be let in. There is then a lift immediately in front which takes you to the 3rd floor.

If there is anyone that prefers three flights of stairs, they will need to buzz and ask to be let in at a different external door which is to the left of the main door.

We have a full list of attendees and basically, if you’re not on that list then you do not have a place. Please remember to bring your confirmation email or Eventbrite ticket. It will avoid our bouncer – yes, we have a bouncer – (who is very mean looking and comes from Stockport apparently) having to escort you some of the way back to from whence you came.

The event is at full capacity and all who have tickets will have food provided at lunch time and refreshments throughout the day.

Please remember that this is a building in which other work is taking place. Delegates must not enter the adjacent Wellbeing Suite under any circumstances.

Last 5 tickets for “Everyday Equality: challenging discrimination in the welfare benefits system.

Thank you all for your interest in the above event. We’re pleased to announce a further and final 5 tickets are available on Eventbrite. When those tickets have gone the event will be full and no more tickets will be available.

Please note that all ticket holders have been asked to alert us to any dietary requirements/allergies.

For a reminder of the details of the event please see our previous post. That post also contains details of how to notify GMWRAG of any dietary requirements.

We especially wish to draw members attention to the fact this is a wholly ticketed event with an upper limit on places. It is not an ordinary GMWRAG meeting to which you can spontaneously turn up.

  • If you reserved a ticket on Eventbrite then you need to bring that ticket with you. The paper version or the app version will be fine.
  • If you’re one of the 20 NWMHWRAG members with a place you’ll need to bring a print off of your confirmation email.

As food is being provided free to GMWRAG members we are keen that everyone who booked a place does not have their food taken by anyone who did not!

GMWRAG members who attend without a ticket or email will not be given entry and will have wasted a journey.

Full details of the January 2019 GMWRAG Everyday Equalities event are now available.

We’re going to keep this as simple as we can.

The full details of the next GMWRAG meeting are now available and they are pretty much as per our September 2018 post. This is a unique opportunity for GMWRAG members so book quickly to avoid disappointment.

There are three additional pieces of information you need to know:

  • A buffet lunch will be provided courtesy of our friends at the EHRC. However, anyone coming to the meeting will need to let us know their dietary requirement else there may be nothing available to meet your needs.
  • This is a ticket only event. Tickets are only available from Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/everyday-equality-challenging-discrimination-in-the-welfare-benefits-system-tickets-50261737209. Anyone attending without a ticket won’t be getting past reception at the venue (unless you’re a speaker at the event :))
  • Registration is for 1 person only. There are no group bookings. If you want to attend then you need to register personally.
  • NWMHWRAG members. The lucky 20 of you who have already reserved a place will need to bring your confirmation email with you else you also won’t get past reception.

The full agenda for the day can be viewed when you register for a place. It can also be downloaded from here. The minutes of the last meeting can be downloaded from https://gmwrag.wordpress.com/our-meetings/minutes-of-previous-meetings but there is currently no intention to go through normal GMWRAG business at this event.