Next meeting of the Greater Manchester Strategic Casework Group.

The next meeting of the Greater Manchester Strategic Casework Group will take place on Wednesday the 21st of March 2018. It is a game of two halves and the agenda currently looks as follows:

10:00am to 13:00pm

Garden Court North Chambers, Blackfriars House, Parsonage, Manchester, M3 2JA


1) ‘Rutherford’  and ‘Bedroom Tax’. The case  taken to the Supreme Court.

Sangeeta Enright, formerly caseworker at Ridley and Hall, (solicitors) and Tom Royston of Garden Court Chambers.

2)  Update on ‘ripple-bob’ [working title] – proposal for a share and refer digital platform (and not a discussion on near space astronomical object!).

Jo Chimes, Equality Project Lead at Rossendale Citizens Advice. 

3) Attendees brief activity


4) ‘Small claims courts’ and compensation for claimants, using duties under the  Equality Act 2010 – Kester Dean.

5) Update on some recent JR applications over Universal Credit  and current Court of Appeal stage in the argument regarding applying the Human Rights Act to social security appeals by way of the Carmichael case – Lucy Cadd from Leigh Day solicitors.

6) Cases and issues update, including disputes over reasonableness of home visits for claim assessments.

7) Any other business.

Details of what we’re doing in the afternoon will have already been circulated to the small select group of invitees (that’s got you intrigued :)). More information as we have it.

For those new to the Strategic Casework Group, its purposes are:

  • use a strategic approach to stop wrong and harmful decisions and actions by the DWP,  its agents, and HMRC, alongside revisions and appeals
  • share experience, knowledge and practice as widely as possible
  • use the Equality Act 2010, public law duties and human rights legislation
  • promote the take up of this approach, with advisors and others
  • produce strategic casework materials, provide training, and develop process for referrals to specialist legal advice and representation

Can you help Panorama?

With thanks to Ken Butler of Disability Rights UK.

Kathleen Mullin of BBC’s Panorama programme is asking for help with the following –

“BBC Panorama is interested in speaking to people about their experience with the universal credit system.

If you would like to speak to the research team please call 07714 956 934.

Thanks very much to any advisers or their clients who can help.”

Leigh Day need case studies to support their JR case on lack of transitional protection in natural migration/

With thanks to our friends at Rightsnet for bringing this to our attention and now yours.

Tessa Gregory and Lucy Cadd from the law firm Leigh Day are bringing a judicial review challenge to the discontinuance of the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) and Enhanced Disability Premium (EDP) contained in legacy benefits when individuals are transferred, or ‘naturally migrated’, to Universal Credit (“UC”) without any transitional protection to cover the resulting significant shortfall to their income.

We represent two individuals who have lost their disability premia by virtue of moving house, into another UC full service borough. The two individuals are bringing anonymised claims and are known as ‘TP’ and ‘AR’, they both suffer from physical and/or mental health conditions. The loss of their SDP and EDP has resulted in a loss of approximately £200 per month, which is causing them significant financial and emotional hardship.

We have now reached the stage of the judicial review in which we need to collate and prepare supportive evidence. It would be helpful for the court to be provided with other case studies which show the broad and varied range of situations in which individuals are caught by the UC provisions, as well as the different impact that the loss of the SDP and EDP has had on peoples’ lives.

If any of your clients, or anybody you have been in contact with, have been moved on to UC as natural migrants, and have had their legacy benefits discontinued, in particular their SDP and EDP which had been paid through their ESA as a result of them being in receipt of DLA or PIP, we would be extremely grateful if you could provide a short summary of their situation which sets out how they came to be on UC and how the loss of their SDP/EDP is affecting them.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you require any further information. Our contact details are Tessa Gregory – and Lucy Cadd –

More information can be found at

Top quality videos about Universal Credit from Housing Systems.

GMWRAG has written extensively in the past about the increasingly bewildering beast which is Universal Credit and the many, equally bewildering, attempts to explain it to us as advisers and indeed claimants. We continue to be largely bemused by DWP attempts on this front.

Soooo, it gives us a certain amount of pleasure to bring to your attention some jolly good videos from our friends at Housing Systems.

We are particularly enamoured by their rather splendid attempt to wholly muddy the waters of the “lobster pot” by introducing the concept of “Universal Credit as a smoothie?” Monty Python graphics combined with a simple explanation. Indeed it’s so effective we think they should remove the question mark. Like GMWRAG they have a YouTube account and you can find it at GMWRAG has already subscribed and is looking forward to more along the same lines if only to see how they’re going to reconcile fruit salads, smoothies and lobsters 🙂

We’ve posted links to two of the three videos below. Enjoy and subscribe.

Nine Lives Media need your help.

A bit late notice as we’ve been waiting for approval to post this but Nine Lives Media, an independent television production company, are making a television programme for Channel 4’s Dispatches strand about welfare and benefit reform.

Last autumn the government announced a ‘balanced package of improvements’ designed to address concerns raised by claimants and campaigners about alleged problems with the roll out of Universal Credit. We will look at how these reforms are working in practice.

Jessica Bell is a TV journalist and would really like to talk to someone from GMWRAG about your experiences with UC She is also looking for case studies to talk to her about their experiences with Universal Credit. If you could get back to me with a number and a good time then I’ll give you a call.

Also they’d be grateful if you could spare a few minutes of your time to complete the attached, anonymous survey. This will greatly assist them to build an accurate picture of the current national situation. The deadline for submissions is Friday 2nd February.

Practice claiming Universal Credit!

Our friends at Rightsnet have drawn our attention to the following link from We Are Digital. This allows the rare treat of being able to practice a claim for Universal Credit. GMWRAG can foresee that this would be useful in multiple circumstances for claimants, advisers and perhaps many other front line professionals. To the best of our knowledge this absolutely unique. Please have a look at

Simplification of the benefits system – GMWRAGs Christmas surrender.

GMWRAG has recently posted twice about the DWP and new freephone numbers for Universal Credit. You can find these tremendously exciting posts both here and here. Additional to these we now have new JobcentrePlus freephone numbers as follows:

Telephone: 0800 169 0310
Textphone: 0800 169 0314
Welsh language: 0800 328 1744
Monday to Friday between 8am and 6pm

All of this information is coming out in what we believe to be quaintly knows as “dribs and drabs” or has been discovered more by accident than design on social media. One is left with the impression DWP marketing have signed off for Christmas and possibly forever. We’re struggling to keep up. One can only imagine what a UC claimant must feel about all of this! Simple, easy to find and transparent? Er, no.

We are doing our best to agree that things are indeed getting better. Proof positive can be found in the strangest places. 5 years ago the CPAG Welfare Benefits and Tax Credits handbook had 1,784 pages. This year we’re up to 1,800. Clearly the pace of change is finally changing! Simplification is afoot!

Much of 2017 has been characterised by the cognitive dissonance between what DWP do and what they say they do. Thus we have a whole pile of freephone numbers to make life cheaper and easier for claimants but nothing resembling an easy way of finding them.

GMWRAG is a huge fan of W1A, the BBC series in which the BBC comedically dismantles itself.

GMWRAG would therefore like to gift you all of the freephone numbers either in or linked to from this post and end 2017 with an entirely appropriate quote from W1A. It appears this was the year in which DWP identified “… what we do best and found more ways of doing less of it better”. Neil Couling clearly fits into this picture somewhere.

Are we rambling? Yes, we are. Okay, we’ll stop now 🙂

GMWRAG would like to wish all our members an excellent Christmas 2017 (“it’s been worse than good and it’s about to get worse than bad”) and an excellent 2018 (“Let’s nail the jelly to the hothouse wall!”).

Updated – GMWRAG resources for advisers.

GMWRAG has updated the sub pages of the NWMHWRAG so that the presentations to the group page now includes recent DWP responses to group questions about Universal Credit.

Within our “Protected: Resources for advisers in the North West” section we have now added email contact details for every DWP Partnership Manager within the Greater Manchester area. You’ll be needing these for those rare UC failures you may occasionally come across when you need some soothing Vivaldi and a cushion to bite.

These are only accurate as of today and you will of course need the asymmetric encryption key and pass card…

Oh, okay. Ask nicely and we’ll give you the password.

New Universal Credit freephone numbers part 2.

Further to our recent post on UC freephone numbers we  have noted that our colleague Barbara Knight from Derby has posted online at the following additional numbers.

Universal Credit housing line

0800 328 3844

Welsh line

0800 328 1744

Payment services

0800 328 0128

At the same time GMWRAG feels it important to bring to your attention the details of Christmas closures for these lines as reported in a somewhat sensationalist manner by the media. We’ll just give you the Grauniad version and leave it at that.