Brexit and Universal Credit going south.

GMWRAG has secured two excellent speakers on Brexit and Benefits for our next meeting for the Friday the 17th of May 2019. Stockport were due to host both that meeting and the 2nd GMWRAG GM UC Forum on the same day. Logistical complexities mean we have yet to secure a venue. Although we haven’t completely given up hope of Stockport being able to host we are currently feeling a bit like (insert Brexit joke here) and now need to revert to plans B or C as both our speakers are in great demand and have limited alternative availability.

Plan B is this. We put a plea out on here and social meejah and hope that one of our many members can produce a free, relatively accessible venue which can host up to 50 people on Friday the 17th of May 2019.

Plan C is that basically we will go to Stockport and hold an open air meeting. Maybe Edgeley Park (although we understand they’re not used to large crowds :))

Over to you GMWRAG members. Help save Brexit (and Benefits). Contact us vy the usual routes.

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Initial details of the first meeting of the GMWRAG Greater Manchester Universal Credit Forum.

Somewhat pre-empting the issuing of the minutes of the last meeting GMWRAG is pleased to be able to confirm that the first GMWRAG led Greater Manchester Universal Credit Forum (we’re open to negotiations on the name) has been scheduled to take place  between 12:30pm and 5pm on Friday the 25th of January 2019 in the Crompton Suite at Oldham Council, Civic Centre, West Street, Oldham OL1 1NL.

For SatNav use OL1 1NL as the post code. The Metrolink stop is King Street (2-3 mins walk) away.

The intention is that a a minimum of 3 DWP partnership managers will be at each meeting along with a similar number of work coach team leaders and (hopefully) the Preston Service Centre manager (but longer term staff on the front line at the SC).

The agenda for the first meeting will broadly be around

  • introductions and sorting how the group should administer itself; who it should report to etc.
  • limited capability for work and complex needs.
  • deductions from UC.
  • any other business.

As agreed at the meeting, this post is going out her in order to generate GM interest beyond those who attended the October GMWRAG meeting and a number of people who attended that meeting will also be invited through various routes.

Our target audience here is advisers whose welfare rights work is in the GM area and we’re looking for people with a long term interest in participating in the forum to drive consistency of approach across the Greater Manchester area. One off attendees will always be welcome but the focus is initially on establishing a core group who will be able to attend quarterly meetings.

Initially if you could email gmwrag at hotmail dot co dot uk and let us know of your interest we’ll liaise with Oldham.

Please note that it was agreed that after January 2019 (when we already have a full day GMWRAG meeting scheduled for the week before the first UC forum) whoever hosts GMWRAG will be hosting a half day UC forum meeting and a half day GMWRAG meeting.

If you’re not sure when you’re hosting GMWRAG then full details can be found on our meetings page. How this works with Oldham being scheduled to host GMWRAG in June 2019 we have yet to figure out but rest assured we’re working on it.

GMWRAG in Manchester has been cancelled.

We are sorry to announce that, owing to circumstances beyond our control, the next GMWRAG meeting, which was due to take place in Manchester later this month, has been cancelled. Unless anyone fancies stepping into the breach for a late July meeting then the current intention is to allow our meeting rota to run as intended. This would mean that the next GMWRAG meeting remains as planned i.e. Trafford in October 2018. Manchester has now been moved down the rota so that the next meeting there will be in April 2020.

Our meetings page has been amended to reflect these changes.

First GMWRAG meeting of 2018.

We confirmed back in October 2017 that the next GMWRAG meeting would take place in Salford and we anticipated this would take place on Friday the 19th of January 2018. We can now confirm this as a definite date. The meeting will take place in committee room 3 of the old town hall in Swinton (M27 5 FJ). It will be a full day meeting and we are just waiting for two of three potential speakers to confirm. Minutes of the last meeting are awaited from Oldham and we’ll distribute those and a full agenda as soon as they’re finalised.

Many of you will have been to Swinton before and recognise there are considerable difficulties in securing parking, especially if needed for the day. For this reason GMWRAG urges attendees to either car share or use public transport. There is public transport information available at https://www.salford.gov.uk/council-buildings-and-venues/how-to-find-us but we have alerted Salford to the fact much of this out of date. Some options have improved (electric car charging) and some have not (parking generally).

We can tell you at this stage that Salford is well served by public transport with a train station less than 10 minutes walk from the civic centre and buses coming past the civic centre on Chorley Road and Partington Lane on a regular basis. Guided busway and other buses also go down the East Lancs. Road and drop off less than 10 minutes walk from the civic centre.

We’ll post more about your transport options when we post up the full meeting details with agenda, speakers and minutes of the last meeting.

Happy Christmas from GMWRAG

At this time of year GMWRAG pontificates on the year passing and hopes for better to come. So, here we are again. We’re not sure attempting to summarise this year in terms of welfare rights is the best approach. David Bowie died; Donald Trump became POTUS in waiting: Britain voted to leave Europe and Iain Duncan Smith ended the year thinking he’s on the same side as us. GMWRAG is not sure there is anything we can add to that so we’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all the best Christmas you can have and a peaceful 2017. The word “prosperous” doesn’t seem appropriate.

We’ll see you on the other side. Try and pretend it’s just a dream…

DWP Christmas and New Year information now out.

We have attached the two fliers from DWP advising first of all when payments will be made over the forthcoming week and opening times for the Christmas and New Year period.

Whilst we hesitate to suggest there are green shoots of recovery we note that GMWRAG has been able to advertise job vacancies with relative regularity for the first time in a good while. We’re also confident that, by the time you’ve read this, and for the first time since 2013, numbers visiting the site have risen. There has been a slow but noticeable decline which we associate with the plain simple fact there have been less of us doing the work. That decline is now over and will be further arrested when we unleash our new section (which some of you may have already noticed) imminently.

If you stare at this page for long enough (not long in reality) then the GMWRAG site will of course start snowing for you (although we like to think it’s weeping at welfare reform!) so GMWRAG would like to of course take this opportunity to wish our members a peaceful Christmas and all the best for 2017.

The next (and future) GMWRAG meeting(s).

Now, GMWRAG members, please pay attention and listen very carefully. We shall say zis only once! Possibly.

A few years back we had to rejig the organisation of GMWRAG meetings thanks to the reality of public sector cuts decimating services in Manchester, Rochdale and Bolton. A core group of Salford, Stockport, Tameside and Trafford kindly agreed to rotate hosting meetings in order to ensure we could continue.

An unexpected but entirely welcome rejuvenated service in Oldham assisted with this aim but further service reviews and staffing changes in three of the first four above have meant that meetings over the past year have very much had to be organised “on the hoof” as services in the midst of being reviewed to death felt that hosting a meeting for a full day was a step to far in the midst of other stresses. We are very grateful to Stockport Advice, Salix Homes and Bolton at Home for stepping up at short notice to keep the show on the road.

GMWRAG fully appreciates this and so in a bid to provide some stability this year we are pleased to welcome an offer from Manchester to host our next meeting in June 2016. This pushes back meetings in Trafford and Tameside. It would be really helpful if all GMWRAG members could check out our meetings page and note these changes but if you can’t access the site in work then 2016 and 2017 currently look like this.

June 2016 – Manchester.

September 2016 – Trafford.

December 2016 – Tameside.

March 2017 – Oldham.

June 2017 – Stockport.

September 2017 – Salford.

December 2017 – Bolton.

All hosting members need to note these changes dates. There may yet be further date changes as none of us know what the remainder of 2016 will bring but we will try and avoid this if we possibly can. We will try and contact someone at each host in due course to firm all the above up but, if there are issues, it would help us if you “Contact GMWRAG” ASAP to let us know.

There will be a more specific post about the Manchester meeting imminently.

For those of you who periodically complain about the length of these posts, please remember not all members can access the site in their workplace, for a variety of reasons, so it is important that the posts contain what is elsewhere on the site.

Proposals for the future of GMWRAG – time to have your say!

Hi all,

It’s that time of the decade, perhaps, when we might take stock of past achievements and think through how to move forward in the years ahead.

For me, the last decade for our modest, unfunded group was a good one and well worth celebrating.  I am thinking back to numerous excellent meetings, external speakers, information shared, contributions to policy development, training sessions, outreach events, staff support and all the rest.  It is true that in recent years we have been able to do less than in former times, attendances have been a little down on occasions, training has dropped off and services are under greater strain, but the content of meetings has continued to be first rate, most meetings have good support and we have a stonking website, now re-invigorated, with potential.  We continue to have new members and interest.

Recently some services have struggled to take their usual turn at hosting and arranging meetings and this has lead to uncertainty.  Of course, several of us have been talking about how to proceed.  I suggest that we act as follows:

1.  Affirm that GMWRAG should continue, that it’s useful.

2. Break the founding principle that meetings should rotate around each borough in turn bi-monthly.

3. Ask some of the larger services to agree to act as guarantor to host and arrange a meeting once a year or so – core meetings (Manchester will volunteer for one).

4.  Go to a sequence of meeting every three months, 3rd Friday in, say, January, April, June, October, confirmed well ahead.

5. Invite other services to contribute with arranging, or hosting, core meetings where possible.

6. Note that some meetings can be half day or ‘business only’ if necessary.

So over to you, it’s your group!  Pls share your thoughts…

Thank you.

Terry Patterson.

An online poll has been created below this post to enable members who visit here regularly to express a view. These can be added to any comments submitted below and any views you may wish to express to those people who regularly attend the meetings.

PLEASE NOTE – “COMMENTS” ARE ALSO ENABLED ON THIS POST. BY CLICKING ON THE COMMENTS BUTTON (BELOW AT THE END OF THIS POST) YOU WILL BE ABLE TO POST YOUR VIEWS FOR ALL TO SEE.

The GMWRAG site does not normally permit “Comments” in order to avoid email spam but an exception has been made on this occasion.

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