New Salford job vacancies on GMWRAG.

GMWRAG is pleased to announce the first of a number job vacancies we will be posting this week. First up a couple of vacancies from Salford City Councils Welfare Rights and Debt Advice Service. Unusually the emphasis is on debt advice.

Details of the posts are on our job vacancies pages and are already up on Rightsnet and Greater Jobs and details of how to apply are on both sites and below. In the meantime, anyone wanting to know more about the posts can email Steve Quinn or ring him on 0161 793 3295.

Salford City Council logo

 

 

HEALTH and SOCIAL CARE

Welfare Rights & Debt Advice Service

DEBT ADVISER (Early Help)

Scale: 3B £25,694 – £28,203

Ref: 50163553

This post is primarily to provide debt advice, benefits advice, budgeting advice to vulnerable families identified by Children’s Services.

The job involves providing accessible and high quality debt advice to people in the City focusing on vulnerable families as part of an integrated ‘early help’ offer to families in Salford. This would include undertaking individual case-work, income maximisation and outlining potential strategies for dealing with clients’ debts, and preparing cases for court where necessary. Keeping abreast of developments in credit and debt recovery case law will be important and the post will also involve providing training and acting as a consultant to front-line staff.

You should have proven experience and expertise in debt advice for at least two years. Being able to act as an advocate on behalf of claimants is essential. You should be able to work on your own as well as part of a team, and be committed to the promotion of anti-poverty & social inclusion work.

The post carries an entitlement to a casual car user’s allowance.

Closing date: Friday 23rd June 2017  

You can apply via Greater Jobs.

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Salford City Council logo

 

 

HEALTH and SOCIAL CARE

Welfare Rights & Debt Advice Service

DEBT ADVISER (Tenancy Sustainment)

Temporary – 12 months

Scale: 3B £25,694 – £28,203

Ref: 50161459

This post is primarily to provide debt advice, benefits advice, budgeting advice to those affected by the ‘Benefit Cap’.

The job involves providing accessible and high quality debt advice to people in the City focusing on those affected by the ‘Benefit Cap’ who are tenants of social landlords. This would include undertaking individual case-work, income maximisation and offering practical assistance in retaining accommodation eg. applying for Discretionary Housing Payments and preparing cases for court where necessary. Keeping abreast of developments in credit and debt recovery case law will be important and the post will also involve providing training and acting as a consultant to front-line staff.

You should have proven experience and expertise in debt advice for at least two years. Being able to act as an advocate on behalf of claimants is essential. You should be able to work on your own as well as part of a team, and be committed to the promotion of anti-poverty & social inclusion work.

The post carries an entitlement to a casual car user’s allowance.

Closing date: Friday 23rd June 2017  

You can apply via Greater Jobs.

GMWRAG being a little dim.

GMWRAG has always thought the evidence in favour of oral social security hearings was overwhelming, especially when compared to paper hearings. Putting aside the Guardian “discussion”, and a similar piece from our own GM Law Centre check out this paper from UKAJI. At the present time an awful lot of people are showing an interest in the governments proposals for online dispute resolution.

We suggest GMWRAG members start with the Rightsnet thread and then have a read of the above so you are up to speed with what is proposed and the debates around it. This could well shape what a WRO looks like for years to come and so it’s important we all know what’s at stake and all have our say.

New WCA tool and widget from LASA.

You may recall our recentish post on the new LASA PIP tool for advisers, which has proved to be something of a revelation. If not then you can find more details in our post on the launch of the tool.

Now a new tool and widget are available but this time in connection with the WCA, which strikes GMWRAG as a jolly good idea. You can find said tool at the uninspiringly titled http://wcainfo.net. (although it’s obviously better than writing it out in full :)!

If you’ve missed any of these web tools you can find more info on all of them over on the LASA website: http://www.lasa.org.uk/webtools.

As ever, we’re sure there’s a widget you can embed in your web site. GMWRAG likes widgets and we use lots of them. Sadly our web site platform doesn’t accept this kind of tool else we’d be widegting away with the rest of you

British Institute of Human Rights concludes that the government has not met all the UN welfare recommendations from its 2012 periodic review of the UK

A new report from the British Institute of Human Rights concludes that the government has not met all the UN welfare recommendations from its 2012 periodic review of the UK

’Generally, the UK enjoys a good level of human rights protection; the government often proclaims the virtues of human rights on the international stage. However, this report raises some serious concerns from Civil Society Organisations about the negative direction of travel for our domestic human rights protections.’

and in relation to welfare provisions and adequate standards of living –

‘{UN] recommendations 110.41 [child poverty], 110.44 [migrant rights], 110.101 [more resources to reform welfare system], and 110.103 [adequate housing] have not been fully met and remain at risk. Recent policy and legislative changes have seen a regression in standards of living and the welfare system’s ability to tackle poverty, homelessness and worklessness. This is having a negative impact on vulnerable social groups.’

https://www.bihr.org.uk/news/hrcheckreportnews

GMWRAG does realise this information will come as a total shock to our members. Some of you will have to sit down. Some of you may have in fact fallen over. Some of you may never be the same again. Your faith in our government having been shaken to its foundations.

If you have been traumatised by this information and you would like to talk to someone then, in line with good practise, we do understand this. Please go to Rightsnet and moan away to your hearts content 🙂

URGENT: Dangerous times for social security appeal tribunal users – online consultation now live. Radical change ahoy.

The rather bland title chosen by the Ministry of Justice – “Transforming our courts and tribunals: consultation” – hides some serious issues for all tribunal users. We’ve known these have been brewing for some time but now they’re coming to the boil and it’s important all GMWRAG members are aware of this and respond quickly, clearly and robustly to what appears to be an online only consultation. “Transformation” is of course a word which will strike fear into the hearts of most local authority welfare rights workers and there appears to be no reason to fear it any less in this context.

The MoJ blandly state

“The justice system in England and Wales is internationally revered as one of the finest in the world; our strong and independent judiciary, world-class legal profession and adherence to the rule of law are the basis of a civilized society and strong economy. The Government is investing over £700m in the courts and tribunals and more than £270m in the criminal justice system, a sign of our commitment to building on our strengths and maintaining our international reputation. The world is moving on and our justice system must keep up to meet the changing needs and expectations of everyone who uses our courts and tribunals.

This document outlines what the Ministry of Justice is doing to achieve reform of the justice system, and invites the public and interested stakeholders to give their views on certain specific measures. Where required, we will bring forward legislation in due course.”

This of course begs the question as to what the “changing needs and expectations of everyone who uses our courts and tribunals” might be and how they have been measured thusfar? As a representative, have you been asked? Have any of your appellants been asked? Thought not.

You can find more where that came from and a link to the online survey itself at https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/transforming-our-courts-and-tribunals

Note especially the two questions on panel composition, which start from as assumption that single person tribunals are both happening and a good thing! GMWRAG remains to be convinced on both fronts.

  • Do you agree that the SPT should be able to determine panel composition based on the changing needs of people using the tribunal system?
  • In order to assist the SPT to make sure that appropriate expertise is provided following the proposed reform, which factors do you think should be considered to determine whether multiple specialists are needed to hear individual cases? Please state your reasons and specify the jurisdictions and/or types of case to which these factors refer.

If you want the future to be Skype tribunals and think there’s no downsides to that you may want to look at a thread running on Rightsnet at http://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/10233. As it has been memorably been described there, getting all the tech. working did not auger well and was like

“… Norman Collier meets the Chuckle Brothers on the Starship Enterprise.”

There’s a long read on this on The Guardian web site which is also well worth a look.

The consultation runs from the 15th of September 2016 to the 27th of October 2016 and the intended audience apparently doesn’t include lay representatives so you’ll need to decide if you’re responding as a “legal professional” or perhaps a “citizen”! 😦

Universal Credit widget

GMWRAGs friends (yes, GMWRAG has friends) at Rightsnet towers have alerted us to the new widget/thingumabob from our slightly more distant friends at LASA (much bigger towers) and the LITRG (no idea if they have towers. They do tax so, presumably a bunker!). Together they have produced a new and simple way to check the current state of play regarding Universal Credit in your area. Can you claim? What are the gateway conditions? Indeed what ARE the gateway conditions?

This new whatchamacallit is actually called http://universalcreditinfo.net and you will notice it’s very big and very green. We like one of these things. The idea that “green for go” could ever be associated with Universal Credit seems lacking in credibility and has amused us no end. It’s a sad sign of the times that it simply hasn’t occurred to DWP to do anything this competent. Instead you could use this!

No, we thought not…

There is also the enticingly titled “widget”, which allows you to post some “code” on your web site and have a tiny version of the site and the post code search appear on your site. Sadly, we couldn’t get it to work on our site! If you want to be better than us then you can find that at http://universalcreditinfo.net/about/widget.

NB: Those nice peeps at Rightsnet have since made it clear that, because the widget uses an “iframe” then we are techically “stuffed”. Well, that’s not exactly what they said but… being a blog platform hosted by WordPress means that we can’t show you the widget.

We are immensely gratified that the WordPress spell checker accepted “whatchamacallit” without question by the way! This augers well for future flippancy.

GMWRAG recommends…

GMWRAG recommends this blog by Rightsnet contributor Sarah Batty. You can read the full article at https://medium.com/uncertain-futures/social-insecurity-a-welfare-rights-advice-perspective-f5e3aa27437b#.tiyg1e35y but the title “Social Insecurity: a Welfare Rights Advice Perspective” should give you enough of a taste to know what’s coming.

You can also follow Sarah on Twitter @sarah_batty.

If anyone wants to blog similarly for GMWRAG on matters of welfare rights please contact us.

Mental health training for Jobcentre Plus staff

The DWP have approached the Royal College of Psychiatrists with a view to them providing front line staff with training on dealing with claimants with mental health issues. Daphne Hall, who writes for Rightsnet has an opportunity to go to the initial meeting looking at what that might entail. Obviously she has some idea of what the issues are for claimants with mental health problems but welcomes input from everyone about what they think are the key issues and will do her best to make sure they are all covered.

The meeting is on Wednesday the 1st of June 2016 so comments by end of play on Tuesday would be great – thanks in advance…

You can find the relevant thread on Rightsnet at http://www.rightsnet.org.uk/forums/viewthread/9790