Our quarterly meetings are held around the UK and include keynote speakers, workshops and a range of networking and professional development opportunities.
Here are details of the next NAWRA meeting:
Date: Friday 9 March 2018
Time: 10am – 4.15pm (registration from 9.30am)
Location: Stockton Tabernacle, The Square, Stockton on Tees, TS18 1TE
The meeting is kindly hosted by Stockton on Tees Borough Council Welfare Rights Service. Our guest speakers will be Alex Cunningham MP and Tracey Hetherington of the Poverty Truth Commission. There will be workshops on the benefit cap, benefits for children and local welfare assistance schemes. This meeting is also our AGM.
Download the full agenda along with information about travel, accommodation and our social evening.
NAWRA meetings are free for members to attend. There is no need to book a place. Please contact Kelly Smith (NAWRA secretary) you have any access requirements or questions about the meeting.
The committee directs the policy and general management of the affairs of NAWRA. It consists of representatives from each of the English regions plus two from Wales, one from Scotland, one from Northern Ireland and one nominated by CPAG. This gives a total of 14 representatives. The committee meet at least three times a year, either a day before a main NAWRA meeting or by telephone conference call.
The representatives of the English regions and Wales must be elected every two years at our AGM. Our meeting in Stockton-on-Tees on 9 March 2018 acts as our AGM this year.
The regions are as follows:
- South East England
- North West England
- East of England
- West Midlands
- South West England
- Yorkshire and the Humber
- East Midlands
- North East England
- North Wales
- South Wales
If you work in one of these regions and would like to stand for election to the committee then please complete the nomination form and return it by Friday 16 February 2018.
Do get in touch with Kelly Smith (NAWRA Secretary) with any questions.
NAWRA members have identified many former Incapacity Benefit/Severe Disablement Allowance claimants who have been migrated to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), and only been awarded contributory ESA. This is because the Department for Work and Pensions have failed to apply the regulations and their own guidance and undertake a financial assessment to check entitlement to any top up of Income Related ESA.
In July 2017, we wrote to the secretary of state for work and pensions, David Gauke MP to raise our concerns.
Update 10 Oct 2017: We have received a letter from David Gauke, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. He confirms that officials are currently investigating this matter and will be in contact once they have completed this work.
Update 14 Dec 2017: David Gauke made a written statement acknowledging the government’s error.
Update 9 Jan 2018: Esther McVey has been appointed Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in a cabinet reshuffle. We have written to her to follow up this matter.
Update 23 Jan 2018: We have received a reply from Esther McVey.
Update 9 Feb 2018: NAWRA has replied to point out that section 27 of the Social Security Act 1998 does not apply in this situation.
In Nov 2017, NAWRA wrote to David Gauke MP, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to highlight three major problems within universal credit. These are not policy issues but operational issues where the legislative processes within universal credit are not being correctly followed and are causing extreme hardship.
- claimants naturally migrating from Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- waiting days incorrectly applied
- failure to allow a third party to submit a DS1500 (confirmation of terminal illness
Read our letter
Update 30 Nov 2017: We received a reply from Neil Couling, Director General of the UC programme. Read the reply.
Update 15 Dec 2017: Neil Couling did not give a satisfactory response to our letter so we wrote again to press him on these particular issues in UC. Read the reply.
Update 1 Feb 2018: We have received a reply from Neil Couling but it does not adequately address all three issues. Read our response.
Update 16 Feb 2018: NAWRA has received another reply from Director General of Universal Credit Neil Couling addressing serious concerns we have about the operation of UC. It appears that he is not engaging with our concerns and refuses to address circumstances where UC is not operating as it should. Given that the roll out of UC is supposed to be a process of ‘test and learn’ this is disappointing in the extreme. If the Director General is not open to feedback then it does not bode well for the rest of the Department.
As an umbrella organisation of welfare rights advisers across the UK, NAWRA is in a prime position to offer useful evidence identifying problem areas with a view to enabling resolution. We have provided evidence to many of the Work and Pensions Committee’s consultations, and also actively work with the DWP stakeholder forum to this end.
Mr Couling asks NAWRA to ‘reflect on how the debate on universal credit is conducted’ as he is ‘increasingly concerned for the welfare of the public’. He could do well to follow his own advice.
Read our response to Mr Couling.
Excellent article in ‘The Guardian’ on 2nd January 2018, highlighting injustice in the social security system, delays and obstructions in the appeals system and the impact on individuals.
As welfare rights advisers, these are all issues we are all too familiar with and the article will hopefully highlight these to a wider audience. NAWRA also gets a mention, in the context of ‘advice deserts’ and the need for comprehensive welfare rights advice for communities.
You can read the article online.