In this short video Director of Society Matters cic, Jayne Graham MBE, gives us a little insight into why Society Matters is playing such an important role in making the social welfare system work, and how you can get involved.
If you’d like to know more about the work of Society Matters cic, and how you can get involved in supporting our Pay it Forward Charity Discount Fund click here
As Universal Credit
claimant numbers rocket, North East social enterprise Society Matters cic has
moved its crucial ‘Getting to Grips with Universal Credit’ training courses online
as its country-wide classroom-based courses dried up through lockdown.
The social enterprise launched its specialist
social welfare courses last year to respond to the confusion surrounding
Universal Credit and other benefits. They had a full order book as the pandemic
hit, but due to social distancing rules the courses had to be cancelled. Several
of their customers, however, didn’t want to miss out, wanting to help their
staff and customers to cope with living on Universal Credit. So, the Society
Matters team fast-tracked their plans to move the training online and are now delivering
it in a virtual classroom format.
Northumbrian Water pilot online delivery approach
Northumbrian Water were quick to re-book the staff training that had been cancelled to comply with social distancing. Tracey Greener, the utility giant’s Workforce Development Manager explained:
“Our customer teams are continuing to develop their knowledge and skills whilst working from home. By partnering with Society Matters we have piloted an online training package to help our advisors understand more about Universal Credit. The learning from the course will ensure our teams have a thorough understanding of the benefit system and the challenges our customers face.”
Society Matters knows that their training is needed more now than
ever to help both corporates and charities to cope with the
fallout of over a million people having to move
onto the controversial benefit since the start of the Covid19 pandemic.
Lee Booth, Trading Manager
of Society Matters who delivers the course alongside welfare benefits
specialists trained by parent charity Citizens Advice Gateshead, said:
“When our whole team moved
to homeworking last month, we immediately set about getting the course into a
format that could be delivered online. It was too important to shelve just
because social distancing got in the way. We need corporates and charities to
really understand how Universal Credit works. By understanding it they can help
their employees and their customers to properly benefit from it, and not put
them at a disadvantage through their own policies without realising it.”
National delivery continues through the pandemic
The social enterprise has already trained people across the North and South West including national homeless charity Centrepoint, Northumbrian Water, Home Group, LSL Property Services, Gateshead Housing Company, Citizens Advice and Fedcap. The courses can be delivered in closed or open sessions in virtual classrooms, and within the next two months they plan to use the virtual classroom to deliver training in mental health awareness, employment law and discrimination, as well as all aspects of welfare benefits.
To find out more about our social welfare training that’s designed to help you to make your mark, please get in touch.
Personal Independence Payments (known also as PIP) are geared to doing exactly what it says on the tin – helping people to achieve an improved level of personal independence despite experiencing a disability.
Several of our customers who work in the welfare support sector in some shape or form, particularly those who have attended our Getting to Grips with Universal Credit course, have told us that they also struggle to understand the complexities of PIP, worrying that their clients might not get the best possible support when completing their PIP application. Evidence shows that a high proportion of people who apply for PIP actually fail in their application – indicating that this is a real concern. Many of those with failed applications ultimately do go on to successfully acquire the benefit when it is recognised that the first decision wasn’t fair, however this is often after pursuing a long appeals process which causes delay, money worries and of course a lot of stress.
In 2019 the Disability News Service reported that DWP’s own statistics show that as many as one in seven of all government decisions to reject claims for personal independence payment (PIP) is eventually overturned, a rise of 6 percentage points since 2014/15. They also suggest that this is probably the tip of the iceberg as many such decisions aren’t actually challenged.
So what can we do to help people who are entitled to PIP make a successful claim?
Society Matters cic aims to make its mark by mobilising the knowledge of the people who do know amongst those who don’t – our learning programmes draw expert knowledge from the people working at the front end of social welfare, based on the principle that the more people and organisations within the system who understand the detail the better the system can support the people who need the help.
As well as a half day workshop to really dig into the detail, we have developed some short introductory videos as an introduction to PIP and the PIP application process. This is the beginning of our Video Help Series – let us know if you need help in other areas as it’s your feedback and ideas that will help us to make sure our resources really make a difference.