Month: July 2019

An activist has lost a bid to prove that a public

first_imgAn activist has lost a bid to prove that a public consultation on plans to tighten eligibility for the new disability benefit was unlawful, but says the legal case has still exposed the government’s “callous disregard for disabled people”.The court of appeal ruled this week that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had carried out a proper consultation on its plans to slash the qualifying distance for the higher rate of mobility support from 50 metres to just 20 metres.Campaigner and blogger Mx Sumpter failed last year in a judicial review of the consultation process, but appealed that decision.The appeal was heard in July this year, and this week the court of appeal ruled that DWP’s consultation was not unfair or unlawful.Sumpter, who can only walk a few metres with a stick, and otherwise uses a wheelchair, was assessed as eligible for the higher rate mobility component of disability living allowance (DLA), and uses that to lease a car through the Motability scheme.But Sumpter fears losing the higher rate entitlement when transferring to the new personal independence payment (PIP), and consequently losing access to a Motability vehicle.Under DLA, someone is eligible for the higher rate if they cannot walk more than 50 metres, but under the new rules for PIP – which is gradually replacing working-age DLA – this walking distance criteria has been set at just 20 metres.DWP consulted on the introduction of PIP in 2012 but did not mention its plans to cut the criteria from 50 metres to 20 metres until after the consultation had closed.Last year, a judge suggested that if the consultation process had stopped at this point, he would probably have found it unfair and unlawful.But after Sumpter’s judicial review was issued, the disabled people’s minister Esther McVey carried out a second consultation, limited just to looking at the 20 metres measure.When McVey’s ministerial successor, Mike Penning, published his response to the consultation, he made it clear that the walking distance criteria would remain at 20 metres.Sumpter’s legal team argued that this second consultation was irrelevant because the decision had already been made.But the court of appeal concluded that the government had approached the second consultation “with an open mind”.Lord Justice McCombe, one of the three appeal court judges who heard the case, said in the judgment that Sumpter’s argument would prevent decision-makers in the government’s position from “trying to put right errors in consultation processes that are pointed out to them by looking again at the areas of criticism”.He added: “As I understand the law, consultation has to be fair; it does not have to be perfect.”Sumpter, who blogged about the judgment today (Thursday), told Disability News Service: “I am disappointed that we were unable to change anything about PIP, but I am glad that we tried.“The DWP imposed a cruel trade-off on disabled people in increasing support for some disabilities only by cutting help for those with physical impairments.“In forcing the government to defend this we exposed their callous disregard for disabled people and our ability to go about our lives.“It certainly does not fit in to their mantra that disabled people will work their way out of poverty, since for many people the loss of support will mean they can no longer work, or even leave their homes.”Alastair Wallace, a specialist public lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, who acted for Sumpter in the case, said: “Our client originally challenged the consultation during the creation of the PIP system and while our challenge was unsuccessful, we still believe that the current proposals are unfair.“We are disappointed by this outcome and our client’s focus will now be to ensure that the new scheme is properly implemented.”A DWP spokesman said: “We are pleased that the court of appeal has unanimously endorsed the decision of the high court that the consultation process was fair and lawful.“We remain committed to the full rollout of PIP, a benefit which helps disabled people to live independently by ensuring support is focussed on those who need it most.”Only five individuals out of the 1,142 organisations and individuals who took part in the second consultation agreed with the government that the walking distance criteria should be set at 20 metres.Government figures predict that, with the criteria set at 20 metres, the number of people receiving higher rates of mobility support – and therefore eligible for a Motability vehicle – will plunge from 1,030,000 (if DLA had not been replaced by PIP) to just 602,000 by 2018.They also predict that 548,000 of the 892,000 working-age people who were receiving the higher rate of the DLA mobility component in February 2013 will not receive the enhanced mobility rate of PIP once they are transferred to the new benefit.last_img read more

George Michael – who died on Christmas Day – finan

first_imgGeorge Michael – who died on Christmas Day – financially supported some of the country’s leading disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) with secret donations for nearly two decades.The singer-songwriter provided grants through a charitable trust he set up in 1990, supporting organisations including the British Council of Disabled People (BCODP), The Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE), Greater Manchester Coalition of Disabled People and the LGBTQ disabled people’s organisation Regard.Michael (pictured) asked that his financial support was not publicised, but his generosity has been an open secret among leading disabled activists for many years, and they have only agreed to speak about it publicly following his death.The grants he provided through The Platinum Trust, administered largely through the work of his sister Yioda, helped at least two DPOs stay afloat when their existence was threatened by the withdrawal of other grants, including government funding.Now some of the organisations whose work he supported have paid tribute to his generosity and his commitment to the principles of inclusion, disability rights and independent living.Tara Flood, ALLFIE’s director, said: “There is no doubt that George Michael’s quiet and long-lasting support for ALLFIE’s campaigning work gave us the freedom to challenge the very worst that governments of all political flavours could throw at us.“[The] support from The Platinum Trust enabled us to stay true to our inclusive education principles.”Andy Rickell, former chief executive of BCODP (which later became the UK Disabled People’s Council), said Michael’s trust was already providing core funding to the organisation when he joined in 2001.He said: “There were very few funders that could or would support the continued existence of BCODP as a radical campaigning organisation, and The Platinum Trust was one of those. “BCODP would have struggled to exist without that funding, so it is fair to say that George Michael’s support had a material impact on the success of the movement. “I have the greatest respect for him as a result.”He said he believed that The Vassall Centre Trust, a DPO based in Bristol that previously owned and ran the accessible Vassall Centre – one of the earliest barrier-free workplaces in the UK – also received funding from The Platinum Trust.Julie Newman, former chair of the UK Disabled People’s Council and currently treasurer of Regard, said Michael had kept BCODP and then UKDPC afloat for many years, at a time when other funding was “falling away”, including grant funding from the Department of Health.She said that she and other disabled activists were visited by Michael’s sister, Yioda, who was a “lovely, lovely woman”, and collected information on applicants for grants, and then took that to trustees of The Platinum Trust, including her brother.She said that Michael’s support for Regard – which has always operated “on a shoestring” – had been crucial.She said: “There would be no Regard today without The Platinum Trust.“When its lottery funding came to an end, Regard was practically bankrupt and couldn’t have continued without the support of The Platinum Trust.”Newman said she was “devastated” to hear of George Michael’s death.She said: “It is a tremendous loss to our movement. He was a great supporter and extremely generous.“He wanted it done quietly and discretely. The way it was handled, it was so gentle. We didn’t have to jump through hoops.“What George did was massively generous, at a time when other people were not.”Picture: George Michael in a BBC documentary featuring a live solo performance at the Palais Garnier Opera House in Paris in 2012last_img read more

The Department for Work and Pensions DWP appears

first_imgThe Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) appears to have gone back on its promise to a tribunal to address a fatal flaw in its “fitness for work” test that has led to the deaths of multiple benefit claimants with mental health conditions.More than two years after ministers promised the upper tribunal that it would test improvements to the work capability assessment (WCA) process, DWP has finally released some details of the measures it has introduced.The details – which were heavily redacted – emerged following freedom of information requests from Disability News Service and lawyers from The Public Law Project (PLP), which represents the claimants who took the case.But PLP says the DWP’s response “must call into question whether there is any political will to stop the discriminatory effect of the WCA on people with mental health problems”.In May 2013, the upper tribunal administrative appeals chamber had ruled that the WCA discriminated against some people with mental health conditions.DWP promised the tribunal it would work with its contractor – which at the time was Atos, which has now been replaced by the discredited US outsourcing giant Maximus – to develop a pilot programme to test ways to ensure that medical evidence relating to claimants of out-of-work disability benefits was collected more often from health professionals who knew them well.This would ensure that fewer claimants would be found unfairly fit for work or would have to go through the WCA if it was unnecessary or harmful to them.Previous guidelines for Maximus assessment staff stated that further medical evidence must be obtained if, for example, there was evidence of a previous suicide attempt, suicidal ideation or self-harm, and in certain other cases, such as when a claimant had an “appointee” to make important decisions on their behalf.But DWP has now drawn up new guidance, following a small-scale study involving less than 250 claimants.The new guidance, implemented this week, states that further medical evidence can now also be requested at the “filework” stage – the stage before any face-to-face assessment is carried out – if it is felt that “further information would be helpful”.But if the Maximus healthcare professional decides there is no need to seek this further medical evidence, they will not need to justify that decision.This shows that DWP has disregarded the recommendation made more than four years ago by Professor Malcolm Harrington, who carried out the third independent review of the WCA on behalf of ministers.He said that DWP decision-makers should, at a later stage in the process, “actively consider the need to seek further documentary evidence in every claimant’s case”, and that any decision not to seek further evidence “must be justified”.And he said that “particular care” should be taken to ensure this evidence was obtained when the claimant has a mental health condition or learning difficulty.The information released by DWP reverses Professor Harrington’s recommendation, as it says the Maximus healthcare professional “must provide an appropriate justification” in every case in which they make a request for further medical evidence, rather than in those in which they do not.There are also concerns that DWP never carried out the large-scale pilot, as it said it would, but only a feasibility study involving less than 250 people, which led to further evidence being requested in just 11 more cases.It originally planned a pilot of 4,000 people, before reducing this to 1,000 people, and telling the tribunal that it first had to carry out a feasibility study before any pilot.It now appears that no proper pilot was ever carried out, even though the upper tribunal had said its evidence was “clearly needed” to show what reasonable adjustments were needed to address the “substantial disadvantage” experienced by claimants with mental health conditions.A freedom of information response sent to The Public Law Project by DWP refers only to “a small scale test” rather than a pilot.DWP’s efforts to avoid taking meaningful steps to improve the safety of the WCA – by ensuring that all the necessary evidence is gathered before a decision on a claim for out-of-work disability benefits is taken – stretch back all the way to April 2010.More than seven years ago, coroner Tom Osborne wrote to DWP to express concerns that it did not automatically seek further medical evidence from a claimant’s GP or psychiatrist if they had a mental health condition, following an inquest into the death of Stephen Carré in January 2010.Four years later, another letter was sent to DWP by a coroner, raising the same concerns and making almost identical recommendations, this time following the death of a north London man.The deaths of other claimants have also been linked to the failure to ensure that further medical evidence was obtained, including those of Mark Wood, Paul Donnachie, David Barr, and a woman known only as Ms D E.Rakesh Singh, a solicitor with The Public Law Project, said: “I am seriously concerned that the DWP has failed to carry out the pilot it promised several years ago to the tribunal, that it has failed to implement the change recommended by Professor Harrington in 2012, and that it has failed to give any reasons for not doing so.  “The new guidance that has come into force this week shows that the DWP is simply not willing to listen to its own independent reviewer or to the courts about what needs to be done to make the WCA process safer and fairer for people with mental health conditions, or to learn lessons from the tragic suicides of those who had been subjected to the WCA and follow the recommendations of the independent bodies who had investigated their deaths.“This must call into question whether there is any political will to stop the discriminatory effect of the WCA on people with mental health problems.”A DWP spokesman said: “The pilot* in Glasgow fulfilled our commitment to test gathering further evidence at the relevant stages of the WCA process (filework, post face-to-face assessment and decision-making stages).“A learning outcome of the pilot is that we should request additional medical evidence before the face-to-face assessment (at the filework stage).”He added: “Additional medical evidence is not needed in every situation.“The medically-trained healthcare professional can therefore decide whether it is necessary and we simply ask that they record the reason for requesting the additional medical evidence for the claimant’s case file.”He said DWP had put other safeguards in place for people with mental health conditions, including giving them more flexibility with returning their “ESA50” questionnaire, and attempting to contact an ESA claimant by telephone if they have been identified as “vulnerable” and do not attend their face-to-face assessment, and, if appropriate, arranging a “safeguarding home visit” before making a decision on their ESA entitlement.*The DWP freedom of information response refers to “a small scale test” and not a pilotlast_img read more

Mission Promise Neighborhood to continue with 6 million federal grant


Peruvian restaurant El Porteño lays foundation for an empire in the Mission


It is one of the biggest tests the centre said


The ballot supported the proposal by 68 of votes

first_imgThe ballot supported the proposal by 68% of votes cast.Following the Council ballot, the Rugby Football League Board has met and confirmed that it will now move forward with Super League (Europe) on the above basis.The Rugby Football League and Super League (Europe) have evolved the Super League structure for 2019 onwards and ensured game-wide financial and partnership commitments.The Betfred Super League structure guarantees one-up, one-down pomotion and relegation in a 12-team competition. All teams will play each other once home and away, plus six additional fixtures and the Dacia Magic Weekend, ending with the top five teams in a play-off series which culminates in a Grand Final to crown the Super League champions at Old Trafford.Separate discussions between Championship and League 1 Clubs on the proposed structure of those competitions is ongoing and a further announcement will follow shortly.The revisions follow substantial discussions within all levels of the professional game, led by the Rugby Football League.Ralph Rimmer, Chief Executive, The Rugby Football League: “Today’s announcement is about a number of things: structure simplification, funding certainty, shared responsibilities and growing the sport together with clearly defined responsibilities.“It follows a scheduled mid-cycle review and substantial negotiation. The Rugby Football League governs the whole game. Its focus throughout has been securing clear commitments for the whole sport post-2021 so that the sport has certainty and can move forward, focused on growth.“Structure is one of many vital components of any sport. Everyone is focused on a vibrant and successful Super League, and Championship and League 1. We have secured guaranteed promotion and relegation to and from Super League. It is essential that aspiring clubs, owners and fans can see their path to the top. We can now move forward and focus on all the areas which contribute to a strong, thriving sport.“Rugby League has outstanding assets including all competitions, the Challenge Cup, the community game and England.“It is vital that we now draw a line under the last period; and focus our collective energies on promoting the sport and the fantastic players on the pitch who should be the ones making the headlines. The whole sport has a massive opportunity in the home World Cup in 2021. All of us now need to look forward together and focus on the job in hand.”Robert Elstone, Chief Executive, Betfred Super League, added: “Super League is the game’s elite competition and the whole sport benefits from a strong, attractive, well-resourced and exciting Super League. The game faces a pivotal moment in two years’ time when Super League negotiates a new broadcast deal.“Throughout this process Super League (Europe) has worked with the Rugby Football League and will continue to do so to strengthen and grow the game. This has been a professional and tough negotiation. We have clear accountability and duties as Super League (Europe), and the Rugby Football League as the governing body for the whole sport, which enables a sharper focus for both organisations.“We share the same drive and commitment to progress the sport and look to 2019 with confidence and excitement.”last_img read more

Academy Reserves Match SAINTS TV

first_imgThe game, played in bright sunshine in marked contrast to the wet rainy conditions experienced by the first team only minutes later, saw the debut of Brad Holroyd on dual registration terms from Leigh. Having played first team rugby for the Centurions last week he showed his quality with some powerful runs.Three tries in 14 glorious minutes saw the Saints 18 points to the good and in total control until the game turned on its head in a two minute period.Nico Rizzelli had opened the scoring after five minutes. Drives out of defence from Tom Nisbett, Sam Royle and Josh Simm saw the Saints on the attack and as the ball was swung left Rizzelli beat his opposite number on the outside on his way to the corner.Five minutes later and Simm was strolling under the sticks from Jake Wingfield’s short ball four metres out courtesy of a scrum from a Broncos missed 40/20. Lewis Dodd’s simple conversion complemented his fine one off the touchline to Rizzelli’s try.Minutes later and the Saints left side produced the goods again. Dodd set Rizzelli away and his offload to Matty Foster saw the second row punch through the line. Committing the full back he passed inside to the supporting Dodd to go in under the posts untouched.But, to their credit, the Broncos responded. Saints conceded a penalty in their own half, but managed to keep the hosts out with some fine defence.However, in moving down field Ryan Horne’s cut-out pass to his right was intercepted by the lively Broncos stand-off who raced 60 metres to the posts.On the half hour a short last tackle kick from the Saints was easily mopped up by the Broncos and four tackles later their stand-off was in again as he raced 60 metres down the right edge to score.The Saints responded as Foster broke the line and again fed Dodd on the inside allowing him to go in under the black dot and convert his own try easily.The Broncos were the first to score in the second half as Oliver Leyland’s chip, regather and grubber to the corner saw the Broncos draw closer again as the winger touched down in spectacular fashion albeit with a hint of a knock-on.The Saints hit back straight away. A big hit forced the error and from the scrum on the Broncos 40, drives from Warren Smith and the impressive Harry Brooks put the Saints on the front foot. From the play the ball Nisbett pushed away one tackler and stepped another on his way to the right corner. Dodd missed the conversion but gap was back to 10.But as ever, the Broncos never go away and back they came. With 15 minutes to go a grubber on the last produced a repeat set. A scrum from a Saints knock down resulted in a scrum 10 metres from the line from which the ball was spread right where the big substitute winger powered his way over.All of a sudden the Saints decided enough was enough and despite losing two more players to injury shored up the last 10 minutes controlling the game again.With five minutes to go Josh Simm put the game to bed, punishing a Broncos knock-on and going 90 metres direct from the scrum to score the sixth and final try.Match SummaryLondon BroncosTeam: Charlie Gamble; Alfie Edwards, Jonah Varela, Josh Hodson, Teddy Davidson; Oliver Leyland, Rian Horsman; Christian Gale, Robert Oakley, Adam Green, Christopher Ball, Kai Pearce-Paul, Rory Gray.Interchanges: Elliott Hutchings, Delaine Bedward, Will Budd, Joel Fosuhene Gray.Tries: Oliver Leyland (21 & 32), Alfie Edwards (54), Joel Fosuhene Gray (66).Goals: Rian Horsman 1 from 3, Robert Oakley 0 from 1.Saints U19’sTeam: Tom Nisbett; Brad Holroyd, Josh Simm, Nico Rizzelli, Harvey McDaid; Ryan Horne, Lewis Dodd; Jamie Pye, Paul Nash, Sam Royle (C), Matty Foster, Lewis Baxter, Jake Wingfield.Interchanges: Keenan McDaid, Harry Brooks, Kye Siyani, Warren Smith.Tries: Nico Rizzelli (5), Josh Simm (10 & 75), Lewis Dodd (14 & 38), Tom Nisbett (58).Goals: Lewis Dodd 5 from 6.HT: 10-24FT: 18-34last_img read more

Wilmington Police investigating minimart shooting


Wilmington Church feeds thousands on Christmas Eve