NAWRA coming to the North West of England.

It has been a couple of months since GMWRAG posted anything in respect of our friends at NAWRA. Details of future NAWRA meetings have caught our eye though because early in March 2019 NAWRA will be coming to your area (the North West of England) and to Salford in particular. We will be playing an active role in publicising said meeting but in the meantime details of the next two NAWRA meetings are below.

The next meeting will take place from 10am-4pm (registration from 9.30am) on Friday the 7th of September 2018 at Renfield St Stephen’s Centre, 260 Bath St, Glasgow G2 4JP (hosted by Glasgow City Council).

Following that meeting the next two meetings will be

Durham on Friday the 7th of December 2018 which will be held at Town Hall, Market Place, Durham DH1 3NJ (hosted by Durham County Council) and then Salford on Friday the 1st of March 2019.

Further details to follow as we have them.

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New job advert on the GMWRAG web site.

People Directorate

Welfare Rights & Debt Advice Service

Welfare Rights Adviser (Direct Payments)

18 hours (job share)

Scale 2C £20,456 – £22,434

Scale 3A £23,166 – £25,694

Scale 3B   £25,694 – £28,203

[Pro Rata. Scale depends on level of experience and ability]

Personalisation of services provided by local authorities led to an increase in the number of people opting to use a direct payment from Adult Social Care to organise their own care. The flexibility offered by taking a direct payment has increased the number of people who choose to employ a personal assistant to provide the support they require. This post is designed to provide complex benefit advice to those people who chose this option. It involves working closely with disabled people, their carers and social work staff in order to identify benefit issues, offer advice on the options available to maximise income for service use and the potential employee. The post holder will join a team of Welfare Rights staff dedicated to ensuring that users of domiciliary services receive their correct benefit entitlement and can make an informed choice about the way their care needs are met.

The successful applicant will need to have:-

  • proven experience and expertise in Welfare Benefit advice work
  • a well developed understanding of Direct Payment legislation
  • an understanding of how charges for non-residential care services are worked out
  • an understanding of care commissioning procedures
  • experience of working with disabled people
  • the ability to communicate complex information clearly and concisely

Further information available from https://www.greater.jobs/search-and-apply/job-details/SF-14547

Closing date: Friday 16th March 2018   

A quick reminder about the first GMWRAG meeting of 2018 in Salford.

We confirmed back in October 2017 that the next GMWRAG meeting would take place in Salford on Friday the 19th of January 2018. The meeting will take place in committee room 3 of the old town hall in Swinton (M27 5FJ). It will be a full day meeting. Minutes of the last meeting in Oldham have long since been posted in the usual place and we ask members to print off and bring your own copies. The agenda is almost finalised and will be published imminently. We were hoping to have two speakers but both have had to drop out due to circumstances beyond their control. We have secured one excellent replacement but we’re still working on getting a second speaker so we’ll publish as soon as we know we have that sorted one way or another.

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).

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. You could even Park and Ride from Wardley a couple of stops on a V1 or V2 bus to Worsley Road in Swinton.

To the best of our knowledge there are no train or bus strikes on the day of the meeting but please keep checking https://www.northernrailway.co.uk/strike and https://www.tfgm.com in case anything changes. Also be aware that the roads remain exceptionally busy at this time of year and Swinton is a particular blockage for road travel. Please allow extra time for travel so that we can start the meeting on time.

Anyway, the agenda should be out at the start of next week at the very latest and we look forward to seeing you in sunny Salford.

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.

Future GMWRAG meetings.

We’re around the time of year when people start asking when the next GMWRAG meeting is. What they really mean is “is there a GMWRAG meeting before Christmas?”. The answer to this is “No, there isn’t.” Details of GMWRAG meetings have long since been plotted considerably in advance and full details can always be found on our meetings page.  We’re currently up to 2019 although those people hosting then probably haven’t noticed 🙂

The next GMWRAG meeting will be in Salford and, although it’s not finally confirmed, we are hoping it will take place in Swinton on Friday the 19th of January 2018.  We’re anticipating a full day meeting with two or more speakers. More details will be posted as soon as we have them. Minutes of the last meeting will be out in due course.

Powerlines: New Stories From The Urban Edge at the Manchester Literature Festival.

This years Manchester Literature Festival, features an event on the 20th of October 2016 which will be of interest to all GMWRAG members, If you can’t go, maybe send details to your local DWP, local councillors or your MP!.

The project began following a discussion with ex Manchester Advice worker, David Gaffney, about the lack of real, genuine voices around the subject of welfare ‘reform’ and benefits in general. In particular annoyance (to put it mildly) about the DWP inventing stories to justify sanctions.

The idea was discussed of using the Manchester Literature Festival, to create a platform  for the ‘real’ stories (from those on the sharp end of the benefit system) to get a hearing. A bit unusual for a literature festival but worth giving it a go. The festival were keen and so Church Action on Poverty were approached to become a partner (based on their previous work in this area and direct experience of working with them around financial inclusion). A successful bid was made to the Arts Council for funding, participants recruited, workshops ran and now material gathered. Other partners include The University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing and Salford City Councils Welfare Rights and Debt Advice Service.

The evening will be a mixture of pieces (poetry, prose, visual, audio), the vast majority of which will come directly from the participants themselves.

Five artists have worked with people in Salford to explore the lives unfolding far beyond the aspirational city of artisan coffee shops and slick new builds.

Join poet Jo Bell, graphic novelist Darryl Cunningham, sound artist Gary Fisher, short story writer David Gaffney and novelist Stephen May as they place these stories centre stage.

These stories will make you cry, laugh and shout with rage at inequalities perpetuated by a social security system that is no longer social or secure.

Steve Quinn from Salford Welfare Rights and Debt Advice Service was asked by David to write a short piece in the first person, from an advisers perspective, which we may use in the run up to the festival. It may or may not chime with your experience, but hopefully it contains something that you can recognise. Powerlines will shed light on some of the too-little considered realities of life in the Northern Powerhouse.

You can find out details and even hear a sound trailer here.

Please download and circulate the flyer for the event.

Tickets are free but the performance space has a 100 person capacity. We expect more people to take tickets than attend and so if people can’t get tickets online we would still encourage them to attend.

Tickets can be obtained here.

Sanctions report goes viral.

Following on from yesterdays flurry of posts on sanctions we are pleased to note that the Salford report “DWP Benefit Conditionality and Sanctions in Salford – One Year On.” has now gone viral nationally. In what The Independent is claiming as an “exclusive” titled “Benefit sanctions lead claimants to suicide, crime and destitution, warns damning report”

Ashley Cowburn (@ashcowburn) writes that “Contrary to the DWP’s insistence that the threat of sanctioning encourages social security claimants to move from benefits into work, the system at present causes “damage to the wellbeing of vulnerable claimants and can lead to hunger, debt and destitution”, the report’s authors claim.”

“The report says that the rate of people being sanctioned in the area has not reduced over the previous 12 month period. But, critically, it adds: “Register sizes are decreasing and we believe this is in part due to a growing number of ‘disappeared’. These are claimants who drop their benefit claim or who move off benefit but do not take up employment. The Government has refused to publish destination data.”

DWP have now been forced into a response to the report which says little more than “A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “It’s only right that there are conditions attached to receiving benefits – this is nothing new. Sanctions are a long-standing part of the welfare system and are only applied where people fail to engage with the support on offer.”

This neglected to mention that, whilst historically sanctions have formally been around since the Poor Laws they were usually directed at preventing people relying upon the state, or, somewhat ironically aimed at local communities failing to fulfill what we would now characterise as their big society” obligations. Compare and contrast this to the scenario nowadays where sanctioning claimants is rife but the sanctioning of work providers usually involves the award of another contract.

At the time of writing the article has been shared nearly 700 times and has attracted more than 200 comments. Feel free to add to that as, as ever, the comments section can make for depressing reading. This is an important message and we need to get people hearing it and acting.

Notes on Housing Systems GMWRAG session in Salford.

Updated version – 16th of December 2015.

As promised in our recent post here are some additional hand outs from the recent GMWRAG session at Salix Homes in Salford from Housing Systems on EEA Right To Reside For Family Members and Extended Family Members. Follow the preceding link for the presentation itself.

The additional notes are as follows:

In the meantime, to say thanks to Housing Systems we did agree to remind GMWRAG members that more detailed training is available from them across a variety of related subjects. Full details can be downloaded from their brochure here.

Supplementary notes re: the food bank presentation are awaiting approval. We’ll post as soon as we have that.