Mike Shermer

NAWRA would like to pay tribute to Mike Shermer, former committee member for the East of England region, who passed away peacefully on 17 May 2018, aged 74 years.

Mike was one of the original members of the NAWRA committee and demonstrated a commitment to the organisation throughout his time with us.  Mike was a dedicated welfare rights adviser with Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council and had also served as a Town Councillor for March in the Isle of Ely area of Cambridgeshire.  Following his retirement, Mike still kept in touch with welfare rights matters and he is sadly missed by all of us at NAWRA.

NAWRA would like to pass on condolences to Mike’s wife, Jeanette, and to all the Shermer family.

Mike Shermer
Mike Shermer
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Challenging discrimination in welfare benefits

The Equality and Diversity Forum have launched an online handbook to help advisers, and advice services more widely, to identify and challenge potential discrimination within the benefits system.

The handbook includes a range of tools and practical help to make it easier for advisers to recognise discrimination issues and to help services to build equality rights into advice delivery.  It is an essential resource for everyone working in welfare rights.

Currently in beta form, the handbook can be accessed and downloaded at www.edf.org.uk/practicalequality.  The full version will be released within the next few weeks.

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Impact of welfare reform

The Equality and Human RIghts Commission have published their final  cumulative report on the impact of government Welfare Reforms.  The report suggests that children will be hit hardest with an extra 1.5 million being pushed into poverty.

In addition, the report finds that the child poverty rate for those in lone parent households will increase from 37% to over 62% and households with three or more children will see losses of around £5,600.  They also identify significant and disproportionate impacts on disabled families, on women and on Bangladeshi households.

The report concludes that these negative impacts are largely driven by the freeze in working-age benefit rates, changes to disability benefits, and reductions in Universal Credit rates.

David Isaac, the Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which is responsible for making recommendations to Government on the compatibility of policy and legislation with equality and human rights standards, said:

“It’s disappointing to discover that the reforms we have examined negatively affect the most disadvantaged in our society. It’s even more shocking that children – the future generation – will be the hardest hit and that so many will be condemned to start life in poverty. We cannot let this continue if we want a fairer Britain.”

The Commission calls on government to reconsider existing welfare policies and to review the level of welfare benefits to ensure that they provide an adequate standard of living.

The full report can be downloaded here.

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Injustice and the need for advice

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.

 

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NAWRA in Coventry

Our next conference will be held on Friday 1st December 2017 at The Council House, Earl Street, Coventry CV1 5RR.

The day will include the usual heady mix of speakers, workshops and lively discussion.

Remember that it’s free for members to attend!  So if your organisation is a NAWRA member, you can come along at no additional charge!

Sessions include:

  • Universal Credit and disability
  • Current issues with ESA
  • Migrant workers rights and challenges
  • What does the future hold for welfare rights advice?

Download the agenda here.

For people arriving on Thursday evening, an area has been reserved at Drapers Bar and Kitchen from 6.30pm.  The bar is next to the Council House and will serve food and drinks throughout the evening.  Just ask for ‘NAWRA’ when you arrive!

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