More on no deal from Alexandra Sinclair.

Those of you who made it to our excellent Brexit and Benefits session recently will be fully aware of Alexandra Sinclair from the Public Law Project. A GMWRAG summary of the talk can now be downloaded from here. We’re awaiting word on whether we can use the PowerPoint presentation from that day.

In the meantime, Alexandra has been in touch to send you some further material that might assist our members.

She has written a research briefing paper on EU citizens’ rights in the event of a no deal Brexit after having reviewed all the SIs in areas related to citizens’ rights.

It covers immigration, housing, social security, healthcare and education. It’s published on PLP’s website here and they plan to update it regularly until such time as the Immigration Bill becomes law. Any comments/feedback are very welcome. Please circulate to your wider networks.

There is also a blog post on Free Movement about this https://www.freemovement.org.uk/what-legal-rights-will-eu-citizens-have-after-a-no-deal-brexit/

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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/

An actual almost bog standard GMWRAG meeting. Oh no, hang on. Brexit and Benefits.

Some of us have forgotten what an actual ordinary GMWRAG meeting looks like. Between Neal Couling; Everyday Equality North; a new GM UC Forum; sell out rooms and new booking systems it’s been a busy 8 months.

The next GMWRAG meeting was originally scheduled for April 2019 and was to be hosted by Stockport Help With Benefit Appeals as a half day meeting along with a half day GMWRAG GM UC Forum. We had plans for 2 speakers and a broad agenda of Brexit and Benefits. Alas, as with the B word itself, matters were not straightforward. We delayed in empathy (honest :)!

“Events dear boy. Events!” as Macmillan once allegedly said.

We are please to announce that the next GMWRAG meeting will be hosted by Stockport Help With Benefits team on Friday the 17th of May 2019 in BS 1.22 (N Atrium) in the Business School at Manchester Metropolitan University. See https://venues.mmu.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/11764-Business-School_First-Floor.pdf and https://venues.mmu.ac.uk/venues/business-school/

GMWRAG is hugely indebted to Ngaryan Li of GM Law Centre for making this happen.

GMWRAG is especially taken with the MMU Business Centre strap line “It is a real hub of activity where great minds meet”. We’ve made a joke about this in the previous post. It’s still worth finding 🙂

This will be an p.m. only meeting following on from the a.m. GMWRAG GM UC Forum meeting which will conclude circa 12pm at the same venue.

Please note that the meeting will be open for refreshments/networking at 12:30pm and will start at 12:45pm. You have not misread this. The intent would be to finish at 4pm as per usual.

We are fully aware this is an unusual start time but would appreciate people arriving promptly as the timings have been arranged to accommodate the fact we have 2 excellent speakers giving freely of their own time (and who are travelling a long way to do so) as well as deal with some GMWRAG business which has not been addressed as part of an agenda since (we think) Bolton in April 2018. More details of our speakers will follow but we can confirm that we have

1pm – Professor Charlotte O’Brien from York Law School. You can read more about Charlotte here but we’re confident many GMWRAG members will recall her excellent contribution on the consequences of Brexit at PLP North in 2017. We certainly do. The phrase “administrative cataclysm” has resonated down the years.

2:30pm – Alexandra Sinclair from the Public Law Project. will be talking on ”

“Brexit, Statutory Instruments and Social Security: An early analysis”.

You can read all about the SIFT project here. and you’ll immediately see the link with the many recent social security Statutory Instruments and Brexit.

The exact subject matter/titles for the above will be detailed in due course but if you haven’t figured out it’s “Brexity” then you haven’t been clicking on those links have you! Tsk. EDIT: The title of Alexandra’s talk is now detailed above. Charlotte’s will follow.

We also hope to deal with some routine GMWRAG business such as the appointment of a new Treasurer; web site management; take-up work etc.

Please note that unlike our last 2 meetings there is no booking process for this meeting. It’s a GMWRAG meeting and you can just turn up. However, as per our last 2 meetings, we are expecting a full room so please arrive early if you want a seat.

If you’re unable to make the meeting we have tentative plans to live stream but again we’ll let you know about that in due course. In the meantime we look forward to seeing you all there.

Oh yeah, transport. Ahem, nearest railway station is Manchester Oxford Road and the venue is a small walk from there. We won’t talk about buses because if you can’t get a bus down Oxford Road then you’re really not trying. We strongly recommend cycling as Oxford Road has 2 cycle lanes. We strongly recommend insurance though as we’ve never been able to figure out which way the cyclists are supposed to be going.

See you all there.

Public Law Project Wales Conference 2019.

GMWRAG is well aware that Wales is not a part of the North West of England or indeed Greater Manchester (albeit that we’re not convinced some in the North West are aware of this).

However, GMWRAG also has a long history of welcoming members from Chester and North East Wales to our meetings and we’ve repeatedly been made aware that advisers in those areas are aware of and do use the site. We’re not about to embark on a round of publicising every event which could be relevant to our North Walian friends but as we have a good relationship with PLP AND we’re also in the throes of organising a half day meeting ourselves focused on Brexit and Benefits so publicising PLP Wales conference seems not unreasonable for all concerned. Numerous of our members have also had nothing but positive things to say about PLP North too.

We could at this point make the argument that much of the agenda below will apply to England but that sounds suspiciously like the reverse argument that Wales is just like England and our Welsh administrator (yes, how did THAT happen?) has banned such talk.

GMWRAG would also like to apologise for the weird set up with links in this post. Normally if we link to a person we link using their name as their link. However, this post decided part way through it wasn’t going to co-operate so we’ve tried to insert long links after their names. After a while, we simply gave up. With apologies to all those who do not have a link the ends didn’t justify the means. In our defence, PLP didn’t provide any links at all 🙂

Anyway… the Public Law Project Wales Conference 2019 is here.

Brexit, access to justice, legal aid, migration and settled status, online courts, strategic legal work.

Cardiff University Glamorgan Building, Thursday the 25th of April 2019.

10.00 Introduction
Jo Hickman, Director, Public Law Project – https://uk.linkedin.com/in/jo-hickman-756b5553

10.10 Opening address
Jane Hutt AM

10.30 Replacing EU law in Wales post-Brexit: Devolution vs delegation
With swathes of EU law being replaced in a post-Brexit UK this session looks at the impact in Wales, across environment, food and agriculture, and issues arising with devolved governance.

Chair: Alison Pickup, Public Law project
Jeremy Miles AM, Counsel General for Wales – http://www.assembly.wales/en/memhome/Pages/MemberProfile.aspx?mid=5021
Alexandra Sinclair, Public Law Project (SIFT project lead) – https://publiclawproject.org.uk/latest/plp-launches-its-latest-project-in-response-to-brexit-the-sift-project/

More speakers TBC

11.30 break (with snacks!)

11.45 Digitalisation and online courts – Threats and opportunities for Wales
With the Government in Westminster already committed to digitalisation, this session looks at the challenges for Wales, including those posed by digital access and literacy, and the opportunities given differences in scale, potential ambitions and devolved tribunals.
Dr Huw Pritchard, Cardiff University – http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/people/view/478900-pritchard-huw
Dr Joe Tomlinson, Public Law Project and Kings College London – https://kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/joseph.tomlinson.html

12.30 Brexit and Immigration: The EU Settlement Scheme and Vulnerable Communities in Wales

There are around 80 000 EU citizens living in Wales as a function of the free movement rules. These people will need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to secure a new immigration status in the UK before the rights of residence under the free movement framework are extinguished. The EU Settlement Scheme is a challenging administrative undertaking for the UK Government. It requires the processing of millions of applications within a relatively short period of time and relies on individuals making applications to the Scheme. This session will look at the issues being faced by individuals applying to the Scheme from communities in Wales, especially by those likely to face difficulties in making successful applications.

Chair: Byron Karemba, Public Law Project – https://publiclawproject.org.uk/resources/4254/
Hayley Morgan, Travelling Ahead: Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Advice & Advocacy Service
Wiard Sterk, The 3Million – https://uk.linkedin.com/in/wiardsterk
Bethan Bateman, Head of Migration within the Welsh Government EU Transition Team

13.30 Law Commission consultation paper on the Simplification of the Immigration Rules
Lisa Smith and Stephanie Theophanidou Law Commission Public Law Team – https://www.lawcom.gov.uk/about/who-we-are/

13.40 Lunch

14.30 Afternoon session

Access to justice in Wales
Do people in Wales have adequate access to representation and the courts to vindicate their rights and ensure public bodies behave lawfully?  This session will look at access to legal aid, representation and judicial review.
Chair: Polly Brendon, Public Law Project – https://uk.linkedin.com/in/polly-brendon-713bb491
Salli Edwards, Chief Executive, Flintshire Citizen’s Advice – http://flintshirecab.org.uk/team/salli-edwards/
Michael Imperato, Watkins and Gunn – https://www.watkinsandgunn.co.uk/team/michael-imperato/
Jess Mant, Cardiff University – https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/people/view/1223110-mant-jess
Dr Sarah Nason, Bangor University – https://www.bangor.ac.uk/law/staff/sarah-nason/en

15.30 break

15.50 afternoon breakouts – please choose one of three

Legal aid
This will be a workshop for practitioners to discuss the shape of legal aid following the MOJs Post Implementation Review (PIR) of LASPO, and the publication of the MoJ’s “Legal Support Action Plan.” We will particularly be seeking the views and contribution of current legal aid providers in Wales.  Areas to discuss will include:
The accessibility and use of the Exceptional Case Funding scheme
The removal of the mandatory telephone gateway for Discrimination, Education and Debt cases
The promised review of the financial eligibility criteria for legal aid
Polly Brendon, Public Law Project
Carol Storer, Interim Director, Legal Action Group
Joanna Gregson, Equalities and Human Rights Commission

Strategic legal work in Wales
This session looks at strategic use of the law through both casework and campaigning. Case studies will include the criminalisation of women who are council tax debtors and the bedroom tax case.
Chair: Owain Rhys James, Civitas Chambers
Carla Clarke, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)
Sara Lomri, Public Law Project
Naima Sakande, Centre for Criminal Appeal

Public law decision making in Wales
An increasing number of duties on public bodies in Wales require them to ‘take into account’, to ‘have due regard’ to or to ‘take all reasonable steps’ to protect various rights and interests. However, few, if any, of these duties give rise to specific rights of redress for individuals. Our panel discusses whether these duties can really lead to better decision-making in the absence of such individual rights, and how this relates to access to justice in Welsh public law.

Sarah Nason, Bangor University
Rhodri Williams QC, 30 Park Place and Linenhall Chambers
Katrin Shaw, Public Sector Ombudsman for Wales
Emyr Lewis, Blake Morgan

16.50 Update from the Commission on Justice in Wales
Following their consultation on the future of justice in Wales, a Commissioner gives an update prior to their forthcoming report in 2019.

Professor Elwen Evans QC, Swansea University and Commission on Justice in Wales

17.10 finish

Delegate fees:
Standard 120 + VAT
Discounted 80 + VAT
Advisers 60.00 + VAT
Student fee 10 + VAT

Follow this link to select breakout session here.

Download the flyer here.

Big booking form at the bottom of this page here.

Presentations from Everyday Equality are now available for download.

Alan Turing banner at LGBT Foundation in ManchesterGMWRAG is very pleased to say that all of our speakers at the recent Everyday Equality Act have now provided us with their presentations from the event for download. We also have a bonus presentation from Ryan Bradshaw of Leigh Day which was not available on the day.

Please note:

  • there are no minutes available for the January 2019 meeting. There were 14 speakers and the presentations below represent all the content available from the event bar images posted by @GMWRAGTweets and other attendees.
  • a number of presentations have been subsequently updated or revised by speakers. The versions on this site represent the most up to date versions.
  • all presentations are detailed below in this post but will be permanently available on our “Presentations and notes from GMWRAG meetings” page.
  • The minutes which would ordinarily be on our “Minutes” page link to the above page.
  • Some of the presentations have similar titles. Please be assured that all presentations are distinct. No content is repeated.

Jo Chimes, whose magnificent work was pretty much solely responsible for making the whole day happen, has also kindly added her own summary of the take away messages from the event and we’ve added that as well..

Tidying up October. The housekeeping email and a short notice invite from PLP.

GMWRAG would like to thank all those involved in the organisation of the recent meeting in Trafford which can officially be designated the best attended in our history. On that basis we’d also like to thank those who attended and participated for the whole day. The minutes of the meeting have already been received and, as anyone who attended could imagine, there is a lot of detail to take in. GMWRAG is conscious that we may have missed some questions to Neil Couling and some answers so before publication of the final minutes we’re asking members to send in any notes you took on the day. So this doesn’t run on for too long please email us at GMWRAG at Hotmail dot co dot UK no later than Friday the 9th of November 2018.

Preparations for the January 2019 meeting in Tameside/central Manchester are at an advanced stage and we’ll publicise those as soon as we can. Rumours that Esther McVey will be in attendance can (largely) be discounted. We’re saving her for Stockport 🙂

In the meantime, could any GMWRAG members who attended the recent Manchester Tribunal User Group meeting please email any notes taken as regards who attended from HMCTS and details of any questions and answers.

This leads us on neatly to a short notice but really important invitation from the Public Law Project.

Previous GMWRAG speaker (and the first person to be streamed live from a GMWRAG meeting) Matthew Ahluwalia would like to invite a GMWRAG member to a presentation, debate and discussion on online courts and tribunals and HMCTS’ digitalisation programme. PLP is organising the event.

PLP will provide some reading material in advance and make a presentation to start the discussion. They will then invite questions, comments and concerns inviting those present to share their views, and discuss their own work that may involve or be affected by the digitalisation programme.

If there are particular issues about online courts and the reform programme you would like discussed, please let them know and we will try to allocate some time on the agenda.

Time, date and location: 2.30pm to 4.30pm, Friday 9th November, at Herbert Smith Freehills, Exchange House, Primrose Street, London EC2A 2EG.

This event will be free of charge. Please note however that there is the offer of just the one place for one GMWRAG member.

Please could you RSVP by 2nd November so that we can confirm numbers with the venue. In order to keep this manageable we suggest you email GMWRAG or DM us via @GMWRAGTweets and we’ll pass on the details of the first contact we have to Matt.

It’s time for the Public Law Project annual North conference.

This year, the PLP annual North conference, in Manchester, is on the theme of Legal Aid and Society. It takes place on Thursday the 19th of July 2019 and as in 2018 it will take place at BPP Law School, St James’s Building, Oxford Street, Manchester M1 6FQ

As the Government reviews the implementation of LASPO, we look at access to legal aid and the impact of legal aid cuts on society.

The conference presents a unique mix of practical workshops, research, discussion, and informal exchange with leading experts in legal aid, access to justice and advice provision.

Legal Aid and low income

Today the legal aid system only provides for people on the very lowest incomes and even those receiving out of work benefits are often excluded due the value of their homes being taken into account. Millions with low working incomes cannot afford to pay legal costs, whilst the numbers struggling to reach an acceptable standard of living has risen significantly. This talk looks at how austerity and legal aid cuts interact.

Prof Donald Hirsch, Loughborough University

Challenging procurement and grant funding decisions – what you need to know

This session will focus on Legal Aid Agency contracts, bids for grant funding and other public contracts, practice and procedure: the Public Contracts Regulations and judicial review

Polly Brendon, Public Law Project

Jason Coppel QC at 11KBW 

Exceptional Case Funding 

There are Common misconceptions regarding what is out of scope of Exceptional Case Funding (ECF), immigration and housing in particular. This session look at how to apply for ECF, common problems and what we know about success rates.

Joseph Markus and James Stark, Garden Court North 

Katy Watts, Public Law Project

Legal aid and access to justice for modern slavery victims

This session will look at immigration legal aid for modern slavery victims and a recent judicial review of the Legal Aid Agency when legal aid was refused for a victim. It will also look at cases highlighting why legal aid is essential to build the case of leave to remain during the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) process and to challenging unlawful decisions on leave.

Lucy Mair, Garden Court North

Carita Thomas, Anti–Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit (ATLEU)

Preparing evidence for the LASPOA review

This session will seek to help organisations or individuals preparing to feed into the Governments review of LASPOA implementation. It will look at evidence gathering and presentation and how to show insight from your clients or your organisations perspective.

Jess Mant, Cardiff University School of Law and Politics

Carol Storer, Legal Aid Practitioners Group

Emma Marshall, Public Law Project

Top legal aid and access to justice cases of recent years

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (2012) has generated a significant number of cases challenging the legislation and its implementation on behalf of those affected. Alison will look at the impact of the cases and some themes running through them.

Alison Pickup, Legal Director, Public Law Project

The experiences of self-representing litigants
This presentation concerns a three year project interviewing litigants in person (LIPS). Although Jess’s work focuses on the family court, the presentation will consider common problems facing those appearing in court without representation.

Jess Mant, Cardiff University School for Law and Politics

The full agenda can be found on the PLP web site whilst the pdf programme can be found here. Last year GMWRAG members, probably for the first time, attended en masse and were overwhelmed with the sheer quality of what was on offer in terms of the standard of speakers; the quality of the workshops and the intensity of the day. The buffet wasn’t half bad either.

Everyday Equality Conference… and…

GMWRAG invites you to Equality and Diversity Forum’s Everyday Equality conference on the 10th of May 2018 in London. They will be launching our groundbreaking online handbook: Practical Equality Rights in Welfare Benefits Advice, a tool to help information and advice providers use equality and human rights to solve everyday discrimination problems in the welfare benefits system.

The conference will be chaired by Julie Bishop, Director of Law Centres Network and EDF trustee, and other speakers are experts in benefits or discrimination (or both).  (We are awaiting a few confirmations before finalising the agenda, but these definitely including PLPMIND and Steve Hynes from LAG.)

The conference will be held 10.30am-4pm, at NCVO, 8 All Saints St, London. I have attached our draft agenda for the event.

It is appreciated that this event is in London but GMWRAG would be more than happy to arrange to chat and or do a presentation in Manchester, about the project and the handbook and several of our members are already lobbying for a northern version of this event. Don’t let this put you off signing up for a trip to London as we have nothing confirmed as yet.

The draft agenda can be downloaded from here.

The event is part of the Everyday Equality project funded by the EHRC.