Evidence needed for social policy research

Mary O’Hara (social policy journalist and author of Austerity Bites) is looking for evidence to support her new project and is interested in hearing from claimants and advisers about the current difficulties/realities.  She is especially interested in:

  • Bedroom tax/housing and homelessness
  • Welfare changes/freezes/cuts to benefits
  • Food banks and poverty
  • Stress/mental health impact of cuts
  • Impact on women/children/single parents/disabled people
  • Local government cuts: social care/crisis loans etc..
  • Regional impact

She would appreciate our help with this and would love to hear from you about your experiences and also from any clients who would be willing to tell her their story.  She would welcome any documents/case studies/reports that you have.  Please email kelly@nawra.org.uk


Sanctions – can you help?

NAWRA understands that ITV news are planning another feature about sanctions very shortly.

If NAWRA members have any clients who have been unfairly sanctioned, and who could either be interviewed or be used as part of anonymised case studies, please contact Penny Marshall on 0207 430 4541 or 07876 313 533 asap.

Thanks. And happy new year.

Durham, 12 December 2014

Only a couple of days to go until our conference in Durham.

Just a quick reminder that we have The Right Reverend Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, as our honoured guest. We are very proud to have secured such a high profile speaker to give our first annual Phil Hanns Memorial Lecture.

In a week where the Church has criticised benefit sanctions and other delays as key contributors to UK poverty, it is timely that we have the Rt Rev Butler as our guest. We are sure that you will all welcome him to NAWRA.

The full agenda along with details of social events can be found on the meetings page

Is the writing finally on the wall for the WCA?

NAWRA members will be aware of prominent reports being published that have highlighted significant problems with the application and administration of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and by its contractors, most notably Atos. In July 2014, the Work and Pensions Select Committee published their report on the WCA and called for a “fundamental redesign of ESA”. Following that report, in August 2014, NAWRA published its own response to the final Independent Review of the WCA calling for a “radical change” in the way claimants are treated under the scheme.

Dr Paul Litchfield has now published the fifth and final ‘Independent Review of the Work Capability Assessment’ (available at http://tinyurl.com/litchfield5). Dr Litchfield says that despite the WCA being operational since 2008, it has not yet had a chance to “bed down” due to various changes. Although Dr Litchfield has shied away from recommending a fundamental redesign of the system, he says that if such change were to take place then he would recommend a number of key issues to be taken into account.

NAWRA welcomes the fact that the vast majority of his recommendations reflect the findings and recommendations highlighted in our own response to the consultation (available at http://tinyurl.com/pjq67c7).

We trust that the Government will act promptly to make meaningful and radical changes to the culture of the DWP, and of its contractors, to help ensure that claimants are not treated with suspicion ‘by default’ and instead are treated as a “whole person” with sensitivity, value, dignity and respect.