The next UK White Paper on social security (welfare benefits) comes to Greater Manchester.

It was drawn to the attention of GMWRAG a few weeks back that the Commission on Social Security (welfare benefits), led by Experts by Experience was busy touring the UK but didn’t have an event in Greater Manchester. We are very pleased to draw to your attention that there will now be a GM event supported by the UK Social Policy Association.

This will take place on Tuesday the 23rd of July 2019 between 1pm-3pm and will be hosted by Greater Manchester Poverty Action and the University of Salford (venue: University of Salford, Media City). Regrettably, GMWRAG has been unable to locate an exact address for the venue but we think it’s this and there’s some more helpful stuff here too. GMWRAG accepts no responsibility for members found wandering round Salford Quays before or after said event.

So, what is it then?

What proposals should be made in the next UK White Paper on social security (welfare benefits)?

Background

The social security/welfare benefits system is failing, with foodbanks and homelessness just two of the most visible signs of this.

But there is little agreement, even within civil society, on ways forward.

The workshops

The workshops will stimulate thinking about the future of social security/welfare benefits, and provide the opportunity for discussion and collaboration among attendees.

In particular, the workshops will input to a project called the Commission on Social Security (welfare benefits), led by Experts by Experience which is issuing a Call for Solutions.

The Commission is highly innovative in that all the Commissioners are people with experience of claiming benefits. The Commission’s aim is to produce a White Paper style document setting out a better system and building consensus. The Call for Solutions will include questions such as the following.

  • What steps can be taken to make Universal Credit better or if you think it should be scrapped, what would replace it?
  • How can people who are sick or disabled be better supported and how should the system work out who should get sickness or disability benefits?
  • Should there be a minimum income level below which no one can fall and if so, how could this be done?
  • How should benefit rates be worked out and how much should each benefit be?

Workshop participants will also be welcome to identify solutions on the whole range of issues relevant to social security/welfare benefits. For example, sanctions, Child Benefit, Local Welfare Assistance Schemes, National Insurance contributory benefits, support for housing costs and council tax, individual/household assessments and payments, how increased spending on benefits can be financed, the balance between means-testing or being contributions-based and reflecting people’s particular needs or being universal? Etc.

Workshop format

The workshops will have a participatory format including small group work and consensus building activities.

They will be structured around the Call for Solutions being made by the Commission on Social Security led by Experts by Experience but will also identify other possible activity.

Who should attend?

Anyone interested in a better social security/welfare benefits system! Whether you are an individual Expert by Experience, part of a user-led or community group, from a third sector organisation, academia or anywhere else, you will be made very welcome.

Workshop organisers

Michael Orton and Kate Summers

Any queries please email Michael.Orton@warwick.ac.uk

Additional information

The Workshops are free but places are limited and registration is essential.

A small travel budget is available for people who would otherwise be unable to attend. Please contact the organisers for further information.

In 2016-17 the Social Policy Association supported a previous series of workshops on social security/welfare benefits which identified an agenda for future work. That agenda is summarised here and informs this latest initiative.

We’ll see you there (or wandering aimlessly thereabouts). You can reserve a place via Eventbrite.

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Fifty shades of, er…

Back in the mists of time (well April) GMWRAG posted about the remarkable “Fifty blogs for fifty years” from the Social Policy Association. Since then a further 10 blogs have been posted and this seemed to be an appropriate moment to update on some of the thought provoking and relevant highlights. The links are below.

No 27: Social security reforms have channelled welfare towards the rich: what research and policy agenda does this set? (by Daniel Edmisten).

No 28: The people’s stake – could a UK citizens’ wealth fund tackle the inequality crisis? (by Stewart Lansley).

No 33: Trade unions and social protection – why the strength of collective organisation matters for social security (by Elke Heins).

No 34: Shining a light: reporting on equalities and protected characteristics (by Sarah Vickerstaff).

GMWRAG will be testing you all on these in due course.

 

 

Fifty blogs for fifty years from the Social Policy Association.

Our friends at Rightsnet have drawn our attention to the web site of the Social Policy Association, which we have now of course added as a link on this site.

2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the SPA. To celebrate the milestone they commissioned 50 blogs from leading experts in the field. and have been releasing them on a weekly basis.

“Social policy matters. Rigorous, independent, robust study of it matters, as does teaching the next generation to be more policy-literate. At 50 the SPA is as important to all of these as ever, helping to develop, integrate and safeguard the subject and its members and contribute to better social policies.” (50 words to mark 50 years, Adrian Sinfield)

Commissioned from experts in the field to celebrate 50 years of the Association’s work, here are a few of particular relevance to benefits policy. We have added as many as we could as the navigation on the site leaves something to be desired (“ducks”). There’s 24 more to go as (only) 26 have been published so far.

No.3: Why the two-child policy is the worst social security policy ever. (by Jonathan Bradshaw)

No 5: Where do we go from here? Fifty years on from the ‘War on Poverty’ (by Stephen Crossley)

No 8: Universal Credit: A benefits system to increase debt. (by Steve Iafrati)

No 10: Where next for foodbank use? (by Kayleigh Garthwaite)

No 15: Universal Credit, means-testing and social security. (by Jane Millar)

No 21: 50 years of poverty studies: how our ideas of poverty have changed. (by Paul Spicker)

No 24: Social insecurity: a new consensus is needed to return security to the system. (by Sarah Batty)

No 26: Personal Independence Payment – a fair deal for people with mental health problems? (by Richard Machin)

A new workshop: “Putting the security back into social security”.

This is one of eight workshops being held in different parts of the country, supported by the UK Social Policy Association.

The workshop is free but places are limited so registration is essential and can be done by following this EventBrite link. Turning up without a ticket is not an option. If you don’t have an EventBrite account it’s easy enough to create one and download the app to your phone or tablet. This will save you carrying paper round on the day and give you an electronic ticket. If that fries your brain then alternatively, print off the attachment to your EventBrite confirmation planet and pretend it didn’t contain one of those trite warning about thinking before you printed it off!

The workshop: takes place on Monday the 5th of  December 2016 between 1.30pm and 4.30pm at the University of Salford, MediaCityUK, Salford Quays M50 2HE.

Details: What practical, concrete steps can be taken to put the security back into social security – in the short to medium term (and if this includes additional costs, how can it be funded)? is the question this workshop will tackle. It is for anyone interested in answers to the workshop question: front-line advisers, anti-poverty campaigners, practitioners, people with expertise by experience, policy-makers and academics.
 
Background: The issue of social security is fundamental to social policy. The recasting of social security as problematic, and now toxic, ‘welfare’ – which fails to prevent hunger, never mind ensure security – is well documented. A recent report “Secure and Free: 5+ steps to make the desirable feasible.” found that on issues such as housing and early childhood education and care, there are many ideas available within civil society and much consensus. However, on the core issue of social security in relation to income, the same is not the case.
  
The aim of this workshop is to:

·         identify immediately available answers to the workshop question;
·         create a community of interest around this issue; and
·         plan next steps.

The workshop will be based on participatory approaches including small group work, consensus building activities and so on. It will be introduced by Michael Orton, author of Secure & Free, with co-hosts Lisa Scullion (University of Salford) and Neil McInroy (Centre for Local Economic Strategies).

This is an exciting opportunity to generate, and build consensus around, practical and positive ideas. As noted above, the workshop is free but places are limited and registration is essential by following this link.

If you can’t find the information on EventBrite (although you should be able to) please consider contacting michael.orton@warwick.ac.uk, directly. Michael is author of “Secure and Free: 5+ steps to make the desirable feasible.”

For more information about the Social Policy Association, its work and how to become a member, visit www.social-policy.org.uk.

All capital ‘W’ letters from the word “Workshop” have been removed this post because GMWRAG found it really annoying. This has involved great diligence from GMWRAG and we apologise if anyone thinks we should put them all back, but… NO! 🙂