Month: July 2019

first_imgDisabled people should prepare themselves for more cuts and further attacks on their rights over the next five years disabled campaigners have warned in the wake of this week’s Queen’s speech.The speech, which laid out plans for what the prime minister called a “one nation government”, confirmed his party’s pledge to introduce further sweeping cuts to benefits spending.It also suggested that plans to scrap the Human Rights Act (HRA) would be postponed, but not abandoned.Among the bills referred to by the Queen, who delivers the speech every year on behalf of the prime minister at the state opening of parliament, was a full employment and welfare benefits bill.This will freeze most working-age benefits in 2016-17 and 2017-18 across England, Scotland and Wales (including all but the support group top-up element of employment and support allowance (ESA)), although claimants of personal independence payment (PIP) and disability living allowance (DLA) will be exempted.The bill will also lower the cap on total benefits for non-working families to £23,000 a year, although households which include someone claiming PIP or DLA will be protected.David Cameron, the prime minister, said the social security reforms would “incentivise work”, so that people were “always better off after a day at the office or factory than they would have been sitting at home”.He said the cuts were “true social justice”, turning “the welfare system into a lifeline, not a way of life”, and “not handing people benefit cheque after benefit cheque with no end in sight”.But Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) said there was “nothing in the Queen’s speech for disabled people”.Anita Bellows, a DPAC spokeswoman, said: “Although the government has tried for the past five years to increase the number of disabled people into work, through various schemes or punitive cuts, caps and sanctions, the reality is the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people has not narrowed.“The government is now using a freeze to cut further benefits which support disabled people who cannot work, like ESA, and a benefit cap which is likely to push into crisis households who are now just managing to make ends meet.”She added: “A government which financially punishes the poorest is not a ‘one nation government’.”Bill Scott, director of policy for Inclusion Scotland, said: “Even though most of the cuts are not to ‘disability’ benefits, the cuts to child benefit, jobseeker’s allowance, tax credits, etc, will impact disproportionately on disabled people because they are more reliant on benefits for some or all of their income and of course twice as many disabled people claim ESA as claim DLA – and ESA is not being protected from the cuts.”Scott pointed out that the cuts announced through the Queen’s speech would only “save” about £1 billion a year, while the Conservatives pledged in their general election manifesto to cut £12 billion from the social security bill.He said there was presumably another £11 billion in cuts still to be announced, probably in George Osborne’s budget on 8 July.Scott said: “I fear that for disabled people the worst is yet to come.”Disability Rights UK said that the government’s promise of two million new jobs was “a bold promise”, while the Conservative election manifesto aim to halve the disability employment gap – and therefore create one million more jobs for disabled people – was “a worthy aspiration”.But it said the government’s proposed measures “seem drawn from the view that people are on welfare because of the level of benefits, when it is more often the lack of adequate or effective employment support”, and appear to offer “a crock of gold but no rainbow to get them there”.Disability Rights UK called on the government to introduce a national work experience programme for young disabled people, toughen legislation so people do not lose their jobs so easily “simply because they have acquired a disability”, improve the Access to Work scheme, and allow disabled jobseekers a personal budget so they can commission their own back-to-work support.It added: “On benefits, the government still hasn’t explained where £12 billion of cuts will fall and so we await the budget for the necessary detail.“In advance of that, we call on the government to recognise that disabled people will only be able to reach our full potential as equal citizens if our support needs are met and we can achieve independent living.”Kaliya Franklin, co-development lead for People First England (PFE), said her organisation was “relieved” that the government had not yet suggested introducing means-testing or taxing DLA and PIP.But she said: “However, we are concerned that the further freeze in working-age benefits will particularly impact those disabled people in poorly-paid, part-time work, and for many make the difference between just about surviving and no longer being able to afford the essentials of daily living.“Should inflation rise as predicted over the next few years then this restriction will have a rapid and disproportionate effect on the poorest in society, many of whom are the ‘hard-working strivers’ so apparently beloved by politicians.”John McArdle, co-founder of Black Triangle, said there was no mention in the Queen’s speech of where most of the planned £12 billion in cuts to social security spending would fall.He said: “A lot of disabled people are going to be feeling very apprehensive about the future.”He also said it was “disappointing” to see Labour’s interim leader, Harriet Harman, supporting reductions in the benefit cap, in her response to the Queen’s speech.McArdle said: “The Child Poverty Action Group has said this will plunge more children into poverty. Many of them will be from disabled families.“If we have any hope in Scotland, that is the hope that significant further welfare powers will be devolved.“We look to the SNP contingent in parliament to fight against the cuts tooth-and-nail on a moral basis affecting everybody throughout the UK, as Labour seems to have abandoned any pretence of providing a proper opposition to welfare reform.”There was significant media interest in the reference in the Queen’s speech to a new British bill of rights, particularly the failure to announce that a bill would be put forward this session.The government said only that it would “bring forward proposals”, with reports suggesting that justice secretary Michael Gove would consult on those plans before publishing any new legislation.When asked about the government’s proposals, a Ministry of Justice spokesman said only that ministers would be “discussing their plans on this and making announcements in due course”.When asked whether this meant there would be a consultation on the government’s proposals, and no bill in the current session of parliament, he refused to comment further.Elsewhere in the Queen’s speech, there were concerns about the possible impact of a new enterprise bill, which promises to extend the government’s “ambitious target for cutting red tape to cover the activities of more regulators”, and ensure that regulators “design and deliver services and policies to best suit the needs of business”.Sir Bert Massie, the former chair of the Disability Rights Commission, warned that although deregulation can sound good it “can result in lower standards that exclude disabled people”, for example with standards for accessible homes.There was some support for parts of a new policing and criminal justice bill, which will reform laws on detaining people under the Mental Health Act, banning the use of police cells as “places of safety” for those under 18, and reducing their use for adults.Franklin welcomed the plan to ban the use of police cells for under-18s, but said PFE would like to see it extended to include adults with learning difficulties or autism.She also stressed the importance of human rights legislation to disabled people.She said PFE had lobbied the former attorney general Dominic Grieve on this issue at last year’s Conservative party conference.She said: “As disabled people, we are particularly mindful that the HRA is a vital protection from abuse of state powers.“There are still approximately 3,000 adults with learning disabilities and/or autism being held in the care of the state at huge expense to the taxpayer and frequently experiencing the kind of ‘treatment’ most lay people would describe as torture.”Peter Beresford, co-chair of the national service-user network Shaping Our Lives and professor of social policy at Brunel University, said: “To make sense of the Queen’s speech for disabled people and other social care service-users, we have to keep this government’s concerns in the front of our mind.“They are committed to regressive redistribution, and reduced public services, and financial and social support to citizens.“There is an overall direction of travel here, whether we are talking about the loss of already inadequate social housing through ‘right to buy’ or the increased availability of free child care to all, including people on high incomes, for all the talk of targeting welfare.“They are committed to a further term after this and want to redirect resources to those who will vote for them, thinking mistakenly mostly that it will serve their interests.“Disabled people, mental health service-users, many older people and people with learning difficulties aren’t the constituency they need or care about. So things will get far worse in my view than many people even now expect.”last_img read more

first_imgFresh concerns have been raised about recruitment at one of the outsourcing companies delivering assessments for the government’s new disability benefit, after it sent out a “very urgent” request for 90 more staff.Only two months ago, Disability News Service (DNS) reported how delivery of the personal independence payment (PIP) appeared to have been plunged back into crisis after Capita reception staff were sent scripts telling them how to explain to benefit claimants why their appointments had been cancelled.Because of a shortage of assessors, Capita was forced to recruit 90 more healthcare professionals, just five months after making an estimated 80 of its 400 assessors redundant.Those redundancies followed a huge recruitment drive last summer to cope with PIP delays and backlogs, tempting many staff from stable jobs in the NHS with a promise of better conditions and long-term work.The company said in June that its latest recruitment push was part of a regular review of its “resourcing plans”, and that it was “looking at the number of assessors required to support the introduction of the changes that are expected later this year”.Last month, government figures secured by DNS showed that claimants in areas managed by Atos were six times more likely to wait longer than 20 weeks for a PIP decision than in those parts of the country managed by Capita.Despite those figures, Capita has now launched yet another recruitment drive to find healthcare staff who can assess claimants’ eligibility for PIP, which is replacing working-age disability living allowance (DLA).The new recruitment drive will add to concerns about the number of nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals being tempted away from the NHS to work for Capita, as well as Atos and Maximus, the other outsourcing companies assessing disability benefit claimants.In an email seen by DNS, a Capita recruitment executive says the company is looking for nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and paramedics “who can join us ASAP” in “VERY urgent roles”.When asked why Capita needed to recruit another 90 assessors in “very urgent roles” so soon after the last recruitment drive, a Capita spokesman said: “We continually review our service to ensure we have the right level of people in place to meet the requirements of the Department for Work and Pensions and claimants.“The department’s recent official statistics reflect the good continued progress Capita is making to improve claimant waiting times.“The current recruitment programme reflects our focus on preparing for the full roll out of PIP later this year.”This full rollout of PIP actually began last month, with the Department for Work and Pensions beginning to invite claimants who currently have a long-term or indefinite award to be reassessed for PIP – including those living in two postcode areas managed by Capita – a process which is expected to last about two years.DNS first began reporting on delays and backlogs in the PIP system in late 2013. In January, one disabled woman described how she had been forced to wait more than 14 months to be assessed.By the end of March 2015, according to figures published in May, nearly 23,000 disabled people had been waiting longer than 20 weeks for their new PIP claims to be decided. Of those 23,000, more than 3,000 had been waiting longer than a year.last_img read more

first_imgDamning new evidence suggests that senior figures in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) covered up a coroner’s warning about the grave dangers posed by a new disability assessment.Disability News Service (DNS) has seen a series of letters that suggest the department was given all the information it needed to carry out an urgent review of the safety of aspects of the work capability assessment (WCA) in 2010.But that review – ordered by coroner Tom Osborne through a process known as a Rule 43 letter – appears never to have been carried out.Osborne wrote to the department on 30 March 2010 – originally addressing his concerns to Labour work and pensions secretary Yvette Cooper – just a few days before the start of the general election campaign.His letter followed an inquest he had carried out into the death of 41-year-old Stephen Carre (pictured), from Eaton Bray, Bedfordshire, who had taken his own life in January 2010*.On 4 May, Osborne received an initial response from the DWP’s most senior civil servant, its permanent secretary, Sir Leigh Lewis.When DNS first revealed the existence of the Rule 43 letter last month, DWP claimed in a statement that it had responded to the coroner on 4 May 2010.But DNS has now seen the 4 May letter, and it merely outlines departmental procedures on the WCA, provides brief details from Stephen Carre’s assessment, and asks the coroner for medical information about the case.Sir Leigh promises that this further information will allow him to “complete our investigation and review our existing procedures, as you have asked, to determine the need for any changes to our current medical evidence gathering process”.Three further letters written by the coroner show that he provided the information requested by Sir Leigh, but never received a response from DWP to his Rule 43 report.On 12 May 2010, Osborne advised Sir Leigh that DWP did not need to investigate the circumstances surrounding Stephen Carre’s death, as that had already taken place at the inquest.He said DWP needed instead to look at the “use of medical evidence when determining entitlement of benefit of those patients who are suffering from a psychiatric illness”, but he still offered to send Sir Leigh a transcript of the inquest evidence.On 3 August, Osborne sent him the inquest transcript, apparently in response to a request from the department.Two months later, on 6 October 2010, Osborne wrote to Peter Carre, Stephen’s father, to tell him that he had yet to receive a “substantive response” to his Rule 43 letter, and promising to contact him if he did.Peter Carre did not hear from the coroner again until after he was contacted by DNS last month, more than five years after Osborne’s last letter.Carre told DNS that he believed the lives of other people with mental health conditions like his son could have been saved if DWP had acted on the coroner’s Rule 43 letter in 2010.He said Osborne told him in 2010 that DWP should have replied to the Rule 43 letter, but there was nothing he could do if they failed to do so.Carre said: “It was an opportunity to do something, and it was missed. They should be held accountable for their action, or lack of it.“That would be the one thing I would say: that the people who were there and are still there should still be accountable for their lack of action.”The letters are important because at the time they were being exchanged, the newly-appointed Conservative work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, and his employment minister Chris Grayling, were finalising plans to roll out the WCA the following year to hundreds of thousands of existing claimants of incapacity benefit (IB), many of them with mental health conditions.And in the summer of 2010, Grayling appointed Professor Malcolm Harrington to carry out an independent review of the “fairness and effectiveness” of the WCA, and later told him that he wanted to go ahead with plans to roll out the assessment, despite Harrington suggesting that this should be delayed by a year.Harrington has told DNS that he believes he was never shown the coroner’s Rule 43 letter.More than three years later, another coroner wrote an almost identical letter warning of similar concerns about the safety of the WCA, this time after the death of a north London man, Michael O’Sullivan, who also took his own life after being found fit for work after a WCA.Last month, new research concluded that the programme to reassess people claiming IB using the WCA could have caused 590 suicides in just three years.And last week, a former government adviser told DNS how ministers and civil servants were “ruthless” and “reckless” in forcing through their new “fitness for work” test and refusing to abandon it even after they were told of the harm it was causing.Even before the emergence of the latest letters, disabled activists had called for Duncan Smith and Grayling to face a criminal investigation over the alleged cover-up.This week, more than five weeks after the existence of the Rule 43 letter was first brought to DWP’s attention, a spokeswoman for the department said in response to a series of questions from DNS that “because this issue happened more than five years ago we simply don’t have access to the information you’re seeking”.  She added: “Therefore, I think the best route for your line of inquiry is an FOI [request under the Freedom of Information Act]. And we’ll be happy to provide a formal statement once that FOI process is complete.”*Osborne ruled that the trigger for Stephen Carre’s suicide had been DWP’s rejection of his appeal against being found “fit for work”, and he called in his Rule 43 letter for a review of the policy not to seek medical evidence from a GP or psychiatrist if the claimant has a mental health condition. Neither the Atos assessor who assessed Carre, nor the DWP decision-maker who subsequently decided that he was fit for work and therefore ineligible for the new employment and support allowance, had sought information from his GP, his community psychiatric nurse or his psychiatrist.last_img read more

first_imgLabour’s latest party political broadcast will reveal how the impact of Tory austerity on the NHS has led to a “national emergency”. After nine years of swingeing cuts and large-scale privatisation, the broadcast airing tomorrow sets out the consequences of “running the NHS into the ground”.With 25,000 operations cancelled last year amid the winter crisis, hundreds of GP surgeries closed and £7bn cut from the social care budget since the Tories took power, Labour will directly link government spending decisions to 120,000 deaths and falling life expectancy in the poorest areas of the UK.The “true story” is voiced by actors and made by award-winning Simon Baker, who also directed recent party broadcasts ‘Our Town‘ and ‘Our Country‘. As with those videos, Baker uses a documentary style to relay Labour’s anti-austerity message with a naturalistic tone.The script offers hard-hitting criticisms of Tory policies while placing its attacks firmly within the context of pride in the country’s most valued institution and a general patriotic spirit, consistent with Labour’s ‘rebuilding Britain for the many, not the few’ slogan.“I want to make people’s lives better, not add to their stress,” one doctor says. A patient adds: “The NHS is one of the things that made me proud to be British. The Tories are running it into the ground so they can sell it off to their mates.”The film concludes: “Our NHS is dear to every one of us but it is in danger. Labour will invest in our NHS. We’ll recruit the doctors and nurses it needs and we’ll end Tory privatisation. Labour created our NHS, and we will rebuild it.”Commenting on the latest broadcast, Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “This is hard hitting but it’s time for the Tories to face up to the devastating consequences of what they’ve done.“The NHS is one of the things that people most love about our country, it makes us all proud but the Tories disastrous austerity policy has hit the NHS and the support services that people rely on. It’s caused a national emergency where shamefully, for the first since 1945, life expectancy is actually falling in some of the poorest areas. “And just yesterday we heard a senior Tory ministers admit their botched Universal Credit roll out has forced even more people to food banks. This is a national emergency made in Downing Street that the Tories must answer for.”The new party political broadcast will be aired at 5pm on Wednesday 13th February.Tags:NHS /Austerity /Labour /PPB /Party Political Broadcast /Jonathan Ashworth /Labour party political broadcast /last_img read more

first_imgRUGBY League World Cup 2013 announced today that the semi-finals of the tournament will be a double-header at Wembley Stadium and that the final will take place on Saturday November 30 at Old Trafford, Manchester.The double header is set to be one of the biggest days in the 2013 sporting calendar as the best four teams in the world battle it out for a place in the Rugby League World Cup Final.The announcement was made today in Manchester as delegates from all 14 teams competing at RLWC2013 and representatives of the Rugby League International Federation gathered to make their first preparations for the tournament.RLWC2013 General Manager Sally Bolton said: “It’s great news for the tournament that the semi-finals will be a double header at Wembley.“It’s a stunning venue and has hosted some famous Rugby League World Cup games in the past.“Having two matches back to back will make for a wonderful day of Rugby League with the four top teams going hammer and tongs for a place in the Rugby League World Cup Final.“We know Old Trafford very well too, a venue that always delivers a fantastic Super League Grand Final for us. Holding the final there will allow the Rugby League community, the people of the North West and we hope many new fans to witness a fantastic spectacle.”For the full tournament schedule please visit www.rlwc2013.comlast_img read more

first_imgThey will be held on:Saturday November 3 & 10 2018Saturday December 8 2018Saturday January 12 2019If you would like to book onto these courses, please click here or alternatively you can contact RFL Coachwise directly on 0113 201 5464.last_img

first_img What is real are the charges and potential penalties these teens are facing for making them.“There is nothing funny about making this type of statement,” said assistant district attorney Lillian Salcines-Bright to a room of students taking part in Monday teen court.Be it written, overheard, or Snapped, alleged school threats have become all too frequent in cape fear schools since the Parkland massacre.Related Article: State Board investigating New Hanover County alleged voter registration fraud“I think this can definitely help impact more kids than if they are just hearing it from their parents,” said Makenzie Durham who is a prosecutor a part of the teen court.New Hanover Assistant District Attorney Lillian Salcines-Bright told roughly a hundred students about the harsh consequences for teens who make false threats towards schools.“It carries a maximum penalty of 39 months in a state prison.”Makenzie Durham would know, she’s a sophomore at Ashley High School, which has been the target of several threats over the last two weeks.“It needs to be taken seriously,” she said. “These kids are getting charged with a felony and that’s going to affect the rest of their life.”Roughly a dozen teens have been arrested for school threats locally since Parkland.The felony charges against could put them in prison for more than three years, but stay on their record for even more years to come.“Those charges unfortunately have been brought into play pretty frequently in just the last few days,” said Salcines-Bright.Those are the consequences, but Salcines-Bright also wanted to talk about empowering the students to be aware as well.“The number one priority for us is safety,” she said. “If again, you see it, you say it, and we will do our part.” WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Two new school threats have led to the arrests of students in New Hanover and Pender County.That was on the mind of one Assistant District Attorney as she sent a message of vigilance and consequence to students in teen court. The threats that have been reported for the most part were not credible or are alleged to be hoaxes from what law enforcement has told us.- Advertisement – last_img read more

first_img00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek  . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave Settings WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Dustin Estabrook, a sports fanatic and employee at Bitty & Beau’s, has always dreamed about becoming a sports broadcaster. Today he had the opportunity to be just that.WWAY’s Dustin Dorsey took Estabrook and Rippy Cadillac Owner Allen Rippy on a tour of the new WWAY Studios in Leland to show Estabrook just what a sports broadcaster does.- Advertisement – From the work done in the newsroom, to an actual standup in the studio, Estabrook got to put the skills he learned in his high school journalism class to work.He gave us a preview into the upcoming series for the UNCW Baseball team following their victory against #7 North Carolina, that played during WWAY Sports at 11 p.m.Thanks for stopping by Dustin and Allen!last_img read more

first_imgCape Fear River (Photo: WWAY) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Cape Fear River in southeastern North Carolina is not a swamp after all.The US Environmental Protection Agency has denied a request by the state of North Carolina to reclassify the Lower Cape Fear River as swamp waters.- Advertisement – According to a letter to the NC Department of Environmental Quality released by DEQ today, the EPA disapproved the reclassification saying the state’s documentation does not meet the state’s definition of swamp waters.The push to change the classification of the river started a few years ago during the McCrory administration in Raleigh. Local leaders recently pushed back against the idea.Rep. Deb Butler (D-New Hanover County) congratulated opponents to the move.Related Article: Court asked to monitor Chemours’ messages to plaintiffs“To all those who called, wrote, spoke up, showed up and generally made a ruckus over the reclassification of the Cape Fear River to a swamp, please be advised that the Department of Environmental Quality went to bat for clean water and accordingly, EPA has DENIED the redesignation,” Butler wrote in a Facebook post this afternoon.The reclassification had been made for the Cape Fear River from Toomers Creek about 15 miles south to Snows Cut. It had to do with lower pH and dissolved oxygen levels in the water compared to past measurements.State regulators appear ready to put this behind them.“Due to environmental concerns such as the presence of endangered species in the salt waters of the LCFR and ongoing PFAS regulatory issues, DEQ intends to advise the (North Carolina Environmental Management Commission) at the next regular session that the EPA’s disapproval letter should be the final action on this issue,” a DEQ news release said.last_img read more

first_imgWILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington’s Bellamy Mansion Museum is hosting a lecture Thursday on the Wilmington Ten.  It will feature Historian Dr. Kenneth Janken of UNC-Chapel Hill who has written a book about the notorious time in Wilmington’s history.In February of 1971 Wilmington was besieged by violence surrounding school desegregation.  There were four days of skirmishes between white vigilantes and black residents.  The turmoil resulted in multiple people injured and two dead.  There was also more than half a million dollars in damages to property, before the National Guard stepped in.- Advertisement – Despite irregularities in the subsequent trial, 10 people were convicted of arson and conspiracy and sentenced to a total of 282 years in prison.  They became known around the world as the Wilmington Ten.  A powerful movement arose demanding their freedom.  The convictions were overturned in 1980.North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue finally pardoned the surviving members of the group in 2012.The lecture by Dr. Janken is to tell the story and connect it to the transformation of post-Civil Rights era political organizing.Related Article: VIDEO: Tree crew inside home when armed men attempt to break inThe lecture is Thursday, October 4 at 6:30 and is free to the public.  For more information click here.last_img read more