Quick reminder re: the next meeting of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group.

The next meeting of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group will be on Friday the 31st May at 9.30am for a 10am start.

Our speaker will be Jane Crawford, Training and Development Manager at Housing Systems. She will be talking about Housing Costs under Universal Credit.

This meeting will be in the Community Room at Central Manchester Fire Station.

Address: Cassidy Close off Thompson Street, Manchester, M4 5FP.

It’s a short walk from Piccadilly and there is a car park on Thompson Street.

The Community Room has its own entrance.  Please don’t enter the Fire station by any other entrance.

From Cassidy Close you take the first turning on the left. Walk towards the building and then left again.  You should now be at the back of the building.

Walk towards a set of double doors under an overhang.  The entrance to the Community Room is on the right just before you reach the double doors.

Please contact Helen Rogers if you can’t find the room on the day.

If you’ve been before then you’ll know the routine. If not then Contact GMWRAG or another NWMHWRAG member and we’ll sort you out

(Please note she won’t get any messages until 31st May.)

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Agenda for NAWRA in Greenwich.

Following GMWRAGs post about the notes from the Salford meeting we now have further information about the Greenwich NAWRA meeting agenda.

Date: Friday the 7th of June 2019
Time: 10.00 – 16.00 (registration from 9.30)
Location: Queen Anne Building, Old Royal Naval College, King William Walk, London SE10 9NN (number 2 on the Greenwich University campus map)

The guest speaker will be Marsha De Cordova MP, Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions, Disabled People)  

There will be participatory workshops on how to claim universal credit, procedures to identify vulnerable clients, recent benefit changes for pensioners and the White Paper Commission on Social Security.

They will also hear about using judicial review to resolve welfare rights issues without going to court and there will be a presentation from Policy in Practice on how data analysis can be used to design better support.

The full agenda, along with details of travel, accommodation and social evening is now available.

NAWRA meetings are only open to members. There’s no need to book a place. Please let NAWRA know if you have any accessibility needs.

GMWRAG is especially pleased to Marsha De Cordova as the guest speaker as we have had the opportunity to hear her in person in the past 12 months and found her both refreshing and inspirational. She also has a background in benefits advice.

Details of the next GMWRAG GM UC Forum are finally here.

The GMWRAG Greater Manchester Universal Credit Forum grew directly from our invitation to Neil Couling, director general of Universal Credit, to come talk to a GMWRAG meeting in Trafford, which he kindly did back in October 2018. You can read all about that here but only if you’re a GMWRAG member and have the appropriate password.

The first meeting took place in January 2019 and we’ve created a new section as a means of making the minutes available to all attendees as well as anything else of relevance. The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that the next meeting was scheduled for Stockport on Friday the 19th of April 2019 but due to a complex set of circumstances we were unable to make that happen.

The second meeting will now 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”. A bit like Principal Officers meetings then 🙂

This will be an a.m. meeting (as this is the only way we could make this work) and will run from 9:30am to 12:00pm (midday) at the latest as it will be followed by a full afternoon GMWRAG meeting. More on that imminently.

Please note that there is no booking process for this meeting. We are confident the room can accommodate attendees.

The draft agenda currently reads:

  • Vulnerability – no right to reside, emergency funds and accommodation.
  • Feedback on actions from the last meeting e.g. the accessibility meeting held in Tameside.
  • Plans for the next meeting.

We welcome additional agenda item suggestions but please bear in mind this meeting has been designed to have a restricted agenda so issues can be explored in depth.

For those of you travelling by public transport the nearest railway station is Oxford Road and if you can’t get a bus down Oxford Road you’re not really trying.

We look forward to seeing you there. However, please take note of our next post as some of you will be in for a very busy day.

Leigh Day and their Universal Credit Group Claim.

Leigh Day have now set up a web page plus FAQ & online referral form to make the whole process of signing up to their claim(s) a little more convenient. This can be found at: https://www.leighday.co.uk/Employment-discrimination/Current-cases/Universal-Credit-group-action. They have produced separate referral forms tailored for advisers and for individuals.

For their TP & AR linked claims they now have enough claimants to launch the action. They have identified potential lead claimants and will shortly be sending out client care letters to those who have been referred to them or made their own enquiries.

They are also hoping to generate some media interest in the coming weeks. They could do with much higher numbers to make this litigation really effective and that is why they have set up the website. There are 13,000 people out there who have lost out as a result of the wrongheaded implementation of natural migration.

A lot of service users might not have access to the internet so you can still refer people to them by just emailing a name and telephone number. Ryan Bradshaw (a long-standing friend of GMWRAG and GMSCG) and Niall Byrne are available by phone for any enquiries that you might have.

Feel free to circulate this amongst your contacts and colleagues.

Initial details of the next meeting of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers Group.

The next meeting of the North West Mental Health Welfare Rights Advisers group will be on Friday the 31st of May 2019.

The speaker will be Jane Crawford, Training and Development Manager for Housing Systems.

She will be talking about housing costs in Universal Credit including managed payments to landlords.

Presentation on Universal Credit and Human Rights now available for download.

The minutes of the latest NWMHWRAG meeting will be made available in due course but in the meantime to whet your appetite here’s a download to the presentation done by Ryan Bradshaw of Leigh Day at the last meeting.

Minutes of the first/last GMWRAG GM UC meeting will be set free into the wild sometime as soon as we get a minute too. They’re already up on the site but currently protected. DWP have raised no objections to the content so we think we’re good to go.

Minutes of the first GMWRAG Greater Manchester Universal Credit Forum ALMOST available. Another new GMWRAG web site section created in anticipation.

The minutes of the 1st ever GMWRAG GM UC Forum, which took place in sunny Oldham (we’re writing this as it’s snowing in March) way back in January 2019 are now almost available for download. Apologies for the delay in getting these out to you but we’ve had technical issues getting them to the DWP for comment.

In light of the delays these issues have caused we’ve decided to go down the “publish and be damned” route and just get them out there (sort of). At present though you won’t be able to access them until DWP have confirmed there are no issues with them from their perspective.

Once they do go live (yeah, we will say) could those of you who were present at the meeting please take a look and note any suggested/required amendments? Bring them with you to the next meeting and we’ll deal with them under a hopefully brief, focused “minutes of the last meeting” item at the outset.

In order to view the minutes you will need to find them in (yet another) new GMWRAG section where they are located and password protected. We’ll leave it to you to figure out what it’s called. If you can’t (clue: it starts with “NEW”) then we despair. We just do.

As regards passwords, GMWRAG members know the score. If you don’t then just contact us and we’ll let you know (the score that is. Possibly the password too.) once it’s all live.

GMWRAG has recently discovered what happens when we momentarily and accidentally leave minutes unprotected. Apparently, we end up in Private Eye! You can read more about that here but GMWRAG wishes to issue a resolute “no comment”.

In the meantime, you’ll obviously want to know that we’re working towards a slightly amended date and timings for the next UC Forum/GMWRAG meeting.

We were scheduled for Stockport in Spring (sorry, we just liked the alliteration – we meant April) but we’re now looking at a mid May date. The draft minutes also suggested that the UC Forum would run 1pm to 4pm but we’ve had to amend that immediately in order to accommodate our speakers at the GMWRAG meeting on the same day.

So, at present the intent is that the UC forum will be a.m. and will be followed by a packed p.m. meeting with 2 speakers looking at various aspects of Brexit and Benefits. We’ll give you something more concrete on this as soon as it’s been finalised but we’re hoping for the 17th of May 2019. If the weather persists we shall of course rebadge it as “Brrrrexit and Benefits”.

Please note that we can’t guarantee that the future order of these meetings will be the same. We suspect it will change depending on the availability of speakers for the GMWRAG meeting. We are busy finding out whose hands to slap for suggesting the UC Forum would always be p.m.

Finally, we have had several queries asking about the accessibility/access group which was suggested at the 1st meeting. There is clearly much enthusiasm for this and much anxiety about perceived delays. DWP are doing a lot of work behind the scenes to make this happen (most notably to make it as accessible as it can be) so please bear with us. As soon as we’re able to announce anything, we will.

Greater Manchester Welfare Reform Dashboard. A chance for you to comment upon and shape the data.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) collate data on a quarterly basis with a view to monitoring the rollout of Universal Credit and other welfare reforms. The main intent of collating this data is to inform the priorities of the GM UC and Welfare Reform Group and its focus on skills and employment opportunities.

However, as the intro. also notes it is also a “resource available to partners in GM”. GMWRAG takes the view that this data is extremely useful in informing on the work we’re all doing and the data tables alone are worth the price of admission. So, we’re pleased to bring the last quarterly report to your attention for the first time.

You can download a pdf copy of the report from here and we’re confident you’ll find much that is useful within about your own a. Of equal importance though is the fact that GMCA would like your feedback. They are looking to add additional datasets to the Dashboard all the time and, whilst they have some ideas on that, they would welcome the views of GMWRAG members on

  • the data as it stands;
  • whether any GMWRAG members could contribute further data or datasets and,
  • any suggestions on further information which could be added.

If you’d like to feedback, and GMWRAG urges you to all consider doing so, then please contact Hannah.scriven@greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk

It’s just one thing after another – NAWRA in Salford – yet another big GM event.

The next NAWRA meeting is that rarity of a thing – a NAWRA meeting in Greater Manchester i.e. Salford. The agenda of the meeting is now available for download from the NAWRA web site as well as from here and Salford Welfare Rights and Debt Advice Service looks forward to seeing you on the day; the night before and the evening after too. Full details of the event; social events and travel options are contained within the agenda document.

“The day” incidentally is Friday the 1st of March 2019. Full details are, guess, in the agenda.

Please note that this event, as per all other NAWRA meetings, is members only.

NAWRA is a membership based organisation for advisers and organisations across the UK. Membership of NAWRA is available to any group or individual working in the welfare rights field and/or who supports theiraims and objectives.

Find out more about joining NAWRA.

Speakers include

City Mayor of Salford Paul Dennett

Paul was elected Councillor for Langworthy in 2012 and held the Strategic Assistant Mayor position until 2016 focusing on equalities, cohesion, technology, change, urban transformation, innovation, prosperity, growth and workforce.

Paul has a long history of campaigning on social issues and since becoming the elected City Mayor has campaigned for equality, financial inclusion, the living wage, social value, to tackle poverty and critically providing the public/private environment to tackle the housing crisis.

In July 2016 Paul was appointed Greater Manchester Combined Authority Portfolio Lead for Low Carbon, Waste and Environment. In May 2017 Paul was appointed Greater Manchester Combined Authority Portfolio Lead for Housing, Homelessness and Infrastructure.

Professor Lisa Scullion – Professor of Social Policy, School of Health and Society, University of Salford

Social (in)security? Learning lessons from lived experiences of the benefits system across the UK.

Catherine Connors – Principal Officer, Salford Welfare Right and Debt Advice Service, and CPAG trainer

Welfare reform – the vital role of advice services in safeguarding vulnerable adults and children.

Workshops can be chosen from

Right to reside and universal creditGlenys Harriman (Housing Systems)

Workshop Level: – Intermediate

Universal credit and mental healthTom Messere (Big Book of Benefits & Mental Health)

Workshop level: Intermediate

Human rights and universal creditRyan Bradshaw (Leigh Day Solicitors)

Workshop level: Strategic

Dealing with deficit budgets: practical tips for welfare rights advisers – Anne Whittle and Sean Finnegan – (Salford Debt Advice Service)