Public law and welfare benefits during the COVID crisis

Our friends at PLP are putting on the above “webinar” (GMWRAG thinks one should always pronounce such weird terms with a west country accent or maybe a Dudley accent – ahem!) next week titled “Public law and welfare benefits during the COVID crisis”.

It will take place on Thursday the 11th of June 2020 between 11:00am and 13:00pm. We can only really quote from their own site.

The crisis has seen a vast increase in those claiming Universal Credit, vulnerable people subject to sudden changes in circumstances and rapid action by the Government to change benefits rules. This session will help equip benefits advisers to use public law remedies during the crisis. It will include:

  • Sanctions during the lockdown
  • Universal Credit and issues such as challenging delays
  • Public law remedies and access to the courts during the crisis
  • Government support during the crisis including the benefit cap and two child limit
  • NRPF update and
  • Pre settled status benefits entitlements

There will also be a chance for participants to share issues and ask questions of presenters and other participants.

Speakers:
Matt Ahluwalia, Public Law Project
Carla Clarke, Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)
Adam Hundt, Deighton Pierce Glynn
Tom Royston, Garden Court Chambers

There are a limited number of free places for volunteer / unpaid advisers / those with no budget at this time. But please pay if you can. Entrance costs a mere £12.

GMWRAG can attest to having paid 10x that for events of much less interest (although to be fair they were usually gigs!).

Booking can be done via the web form at the bottom of https://publiclawproject.org.uk/events/public-law-and-welfare-benefits-during-the-covid-crisis/

Public Law Project Coronavirus: Court & tribunal user experience survey.

GMWRAG can only apologise for the lateness of this.

PLP would like to hear about your experience of how corona virus is affecting the operation of courts and tribunals.

Their goal is to centralise the data in order to identify issues and any patterns that arise. We would greatly appreciate you sharing your experiences using this form.

The prompts are broad; please give as much detail as you are able to.

Please help them by sharing this widely with your networks.
Go to the PLP Court and Tribunal user experience survey.

Benefit Sanctions: What’s Next? A PLP event in York.

We’re well aware of GMWRAG members disappointment that we’re not sending you to Siberia Oldham in January but we’re pleased to publicise the next best thing.

Matt Ahluwalia from the Public Law Project, whom some of you may remember as a mere stripling at a GMWRAG meeting back in January 2018 (see below), has asked us to do some last minute publicity for PLPs event in York titled “Benefit Sanctions: What’s next?”.

This takes place on Monday the 27th of January 2020 between 10am and 5pm at the National Railway Museum in York. The full address is Leeman Road, York YO26 4XJ. GMWRAG is well aware this is an excellent (but damn cold) venue. However, as it’s at a train museum we’d actively encourage people to go by train just so you can travel over the newly re-activated Ordsall Chord and then talk about it.

GMWRAG is well aware that a number of our members have booked already but we’d like to encourage more as this is an extremely important topic and it’s very easy to take your eye off the ball having been preoccupied with the B word and a general election.

Full details for booking can be found at PLPs web site.

If you have already booked a place (and equally so if you’re about to) please note the travel information on the PLP web site if you’re travelling from outside the GM area.

“Much is known about the effects and impact of benefit sanctions. Shortcomings in standards, both across the application of sanctions and processes for appealing them, are well documented and it is recognised that the injustices of this system are visited upon some of the most vulnerable in society. This event is designed to bring together civil society, advisers, researchers and lawyers to help formulate a common strategy to help those affected, and consider what’s next for public law in this space.”

Couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

Details of the next NAWRA meeting in Leeds.

The next NAWRA conference will take place from 9.30am-3pm (registration from 9am – note the earlier than usual start) on Friday 6 December 2019 at Leeds Civic Hall, Calverley Street, Leeds LS1 1UR.

Our guest speaker Sue Royston from Harrogate Citizens Advice will deliver the Phil Hanns memorial lecture on managed migration to UC. Simon Duffy of the Centre for Welfare Reform will be speaking about basic income and Sarah Clarke from the Public Law Project will run a session on conditionality in UC and public law remedies.

There will be participatory workshops on non-EU citizens and benefits, professional standards, and council tax support for UC claimants.

In the evening it’s NAWRA’s Christmas party – all are welcome!

Read the full agenda.

NAWRA conferences are open to members only. Find out about joining.

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/

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.