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Greater Manchester Welfare Rights Advisers Group GMWRAG meeting held by Trafford Council on the 17th of June 2011. Morning meeting Attendees: Jane Hobson Trafford Council Patrick Hill HARP/Manchester Assertive Outreach Kurt Kleinschmidt Tameside MBC Allan Pugh Southway Housing Association Emma O’Brien The Gaddum Centre Andrea Libman Salford Carers Centre Sandra Fisher Rochdale Advice Services Roger Thompson Tameside MBC Rob Jenkins Stockport Welfare Rights Julie Doyle DIAL Belinda Barlow Tameside MBC Apologies: Mike Hughes; Philip Coleman; Jane Eberhart; Ruth Cheesbrough; Joanne Parry- Slatter; Lorraine Pennington; Tracy Fallon-Topham; Jean Hart. Matters Arising: Disability Awareness Day on the 10th of July (Sunday) in Warrington. Only one person volunteered - Steve Ogden – so Patrick did not complete the registration form. However Sandra and Jane volunteered and Patrick said he’s go if someone gave him a lift. Julie advised that the organisers will be flexible with the deadline (6th of May). It was agreed that Patrick would see if we can register late. We will need the stand. Patrick has not met with Any Burnham yet, but has got someone LHA for 2 rooms for a single person who needs a carer. NAWRA Patrick and Rob both attended in Sheffield. Implicit Consent and Liaison Patrick did not manage to table Jane’s comments about the loss of liaison in Central Manchester since the closure of Chorlton BDC despite having his hand up for a long time. However Roger Pugh appeared to be all for liaison with claimant representatives. The group also discussed the concerns around implicit consent. It appears to be more like a number of security questions. Clients are failing their own security questions especially vulnerable ones. PIP workshop. This was dominated by protestations from the floor so nothing much else came out of it. Judicial Review workshop This was very useful and legal aid will continue despite the cuts. Right to Reside workshop Apparently there is a Bambaust chart that is very useful. The subject of iterim payments was highlighted as a means of getting benefit for those who would not normally be expected to. All the notes will be on the NAWRA website. The next meeting will be in Edinburgh in September. FUTURE OF GMWRAG A discussion took place which involved the following suggestions: lose the logo; the welfare rights part of the name should go (something like GM advisers Network was suggested); the membership should be widened to include organisations that have more than benefits advice in their role. Belinda mentioned that she attends a charity meeting and most attendees do provide some level of WR advice. We were lucky to have Andrea from the Carers Centre to give her views, some may be anxious about coming to the meetings as they may not feel that they are specialist enough. Membership could also include Work Programme providers. meetings should be more workshop based (like the last Salford meeting); focus on the proposed welfare reform consultations and use the experiences of the broader based group for evidence. Provide support for lone WRO’S who are not based in a team. It was also suggested that we use strap lines under the title like “promoting health and well-being; Promoting independence and supporting advisers” or “guiding people through change”. A decision about name change etc will be confirmed at the next meeting. We also discussed the Public Health agenda which will become the remit of Local Authorities and also the interest of GP’s in collaborative work as they seem to have latched onto financial gains being good for health. Sandra mentioned the report on commissioning advice services on the Leeds Council website that includes reference to loads of research into the impact of advice on health that could be useful. Patrick suggested that for the next meeting each organization should provide 5 points to form a checklist of implications of the changes produced by the welfare changes that could be sent to our local MP’s. We agreed that we should look at expanding the email list so if anyone comes across an organision that wants to be included to send to Kurt. AFTERNOON MEETING Attendees: Belinda Barlow Tameside MBC Rob Jenkins Stockport WR Allan Pugh Southway Housing Trust Emma O’Brien The Gaddum Centre Andrea Libman Salford Carers Centre Kurt Kleinschmidt Tameside MBC Terry Patterson Manchester Advice Patrick Hill HARP’Manchester Assertice Outreach Sunil Bhabuta Trafford Council Roger Thompson Tameside MBC Julie Doyle DIAL Jane Hobson Trafford Council NEW WCA Descriptors and supporting claimants through the process The group discussed the new descriptors introduced from the 28th of March. The discussion also highlighted the difficulties involved in accessing information regarding claims once a negative decision had been made and the claimant wishes to appeal. A recent case in Trafford involving a “migrated” IS to ESA appeal highlighted the fact that the appeals for these cases at least in the Manchester Central district are being processed in Burnley. But not everybody in the local BDC’s are aware of it and there are no numbers easily available for advisers and we are still not sure what arrangements have been made for triggering payment while appealing. It’s chaos and has never been this bad so claimants themselves will find it impossible. It will be much easier to just sign on. Patrick suggested that the problems with implicit consent and problems contacting BDC’s be one of the bullet points to go to MP’s that were discussed in the morning meeting. Kurt pointed out that he has been informed that an appointment can be made at a Job Centre to hand in a sick note and this will be faxed to the BDC. Several ways to support clients through the process were suggested like giving talks to groups of people about filling in the claim form and the process. Building up relationships with GPs who will be the first port of call for most of their patients found fit after many years. Making complaints to ATOS whenever there is a dodgy report of conduct on the part of HCP’s. This issue will be revisited regularly by the group. AOB Terry briefly went over some documents regarding the consultation on the future of Citizens Advice involving regional hubs and out reach offices. Very interesting. NEXT MEETING Scheduled for Manchester in October, Terry confirmed that it’s still on.
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