A local authority is to hear evidence from up to a dozen disabled people later this month as part of an inquiry into serious concerns about the system of assessing eligibility for the government’s new disability benefit.Stoke-on-Trent City Council launched the inquiry after hearing concerns from a local disabled people’s organisation about the personal independence payment (PIP) assessment process.It comes as Disability News Service (DNS) continues its investigation into PIP assessments, which has revealed how assessors working for the outsourcing companies Capita and Atos – most of them nurses – have repeatedly lied, ignored written evidence, and dishonestly reported the results of physical examinations.Duncan Walker, who works for the disabled people’s organisation Disability Solutions West Midlands (DSWM) and is branch secretary for the Unite Community union and a former Stoke city councillor, first brought concerns about the PIP assessment process to the council’s attention late last year.He warned the council that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was accepting “increasingly irrational advice” from assessors for Capita – which carries out PIP assessments on behalf of DWP in the Midlands – and that the assessment process was “some way short of any acceptable standard”.Following his evidence, the council’s adults and neighbourhoods overview and scrutiny committee set up what it calls a “spotlight review” to examine the concerns in more detail.In his submission to the council, Walker said the city was seeing increasing numbers of disabled people being turned down for PIP, with many – including blind residents and those with advanced cancer – being scoring zero points in their assessments (a claimant needs eight points to qualify for the standard rate of the mobility or daily living elements of PIP, and 12 for the enhanced rate).One claimant with stage four lung cancer was given zero points, Walker told the council, with the respiratory section of the report marked “not applicable”.The claimant’s consultant oncologist had written to the tribunal for the claimant’s appeal, but until that point – eight months after the claim began – the specialist had not been approached by DWP or Capita.Another claimant had scored zero points, and again their GP had not been approached for any information, even though they had Parkinson’s disease, dementia and had lost six toes due to diabetes.Their tribunal hearing had been halted after just five minutes and the claimant awarded an enhanced rate of PIP.A new DSWM team set up last September had secured a 100 per cent success rate in tribunals for city residents appealing against PIP and employment and support allowance decisions, at the time Walker’s initial evidence to the council was submitted in November.He told the council that significant numbers of disabled people were being refused PIP following face-to-face assessments, were losing their subsequent mandatory reconsideration – the internal DWP appeal – but were then winning their appeals at an independent tribunal.Among other concerns passed to the committee about the PIP assessment process are that disabled people are being sent as far away as Derby for their assessments; claimants are having to wait months for their mandatory reconsiderations to take place; and that Capita has been failing to seek medical evidence from GPs and consultants.Later this month, on 30 March, the committee will hear evidence from witnesses including at least 10 disabled people who have been through the assessment process and will give evidence in person, advice groups including DSWM and Citizens Advice, local MPs, and a DWP civil servant.Capita has also been asked to send a representative to the evidence session, but has not so far responded to the committee’s requests.Ellen Washington, the committee’s scrutiny officer, said there was a “high” level of concern about the PIP allegations made by Duncan Walker, and she added: “Something has got to be wrong with the assessment.“The committee are quite concerned. That is why they have agreed to do this review.”One of those set to give evidence is Mark Lucas, who in January told DNS that he was taking legal action against DWP over its refusal to allow him to communicate about his PIP claim with its civil servants via email.He said he will provide evidence to the committee of the “emotional abuse” of PIP claimants by assessment providers, and intends to present “a claimant’s perspective of the PIP claim process”.He said: “I welcome the council’s inquiry because it is highlighting the shockingly poor and dishonest service myself and other people with disabilities have had to suffer.“At this stage this is of vital importance when in the last quarter over 11,000 people with disabilities needlessly went through appeals*.“I am hoping the more inquiries and opportunities to highlight the government culture of hatred towards people with disabilities the sooner this will stop.“I am also aware that government change happens slowly. My concern is the number of people with disabilities who will be abused and could die under the current regime.”Lucas wants the committee to back his idea of a new “DWP fraud hotline” that disabled people could call to report concerns if the perpetrator is DWP or one of its contractors.He hopes it would be set up in Stoke and then roll out across the country.Among its benefits, he said, would be providing “peace of mind that someone official has made a record of their complaint”, signposting claimants to services, preventing self-harm, and offering a way to monitor trends and develop strategies to promote wellbeing among disabled claimants.Ruth Smeeth, the Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent North and Kidsgrove, has already submitted written evidence to the committee.She told DNS: “In recent months my office have been dealing with more and more people who feel they have been wrongly denied the support they need.“I’ve helped a number of constituents who felt harassed and mistreated by Capita during their assessment process.“On several occasions people with severe disabilities have been expected to travel from Stoke-on-Trent to Derby for an assessment, and others have been denied paper-based assessments on seemingly spurious grounds.“I’m deeply concerned that a system that should be supporting disabled people is all too often working against them, and I have written to Stoke-on-Trent City Council to make them aware of the issues my constituents have faced during the assessment process.”The committee hopes to complete its report, and any recommendations – which could include suggestions around funding for organisations supporting PIP claimants – in time to be considered by the council’s cabinet and then presented to the full council before its annual meeting on 18 May.A DWP spokeswoman said: “We’re unable to comment on an ongoing inquiry.“But it goes without saying that we expect the highest standards from the contractors who carry out PIP assessments and work closely with them to continuously improve, and ensure PIP is working in the best way possible.“Claims are now being cleared at over five times the rate they were in January 2014, with around 81,000 a month currently being cleared.“Of the 2.1 million claims for PIP, only seven per cent are appealed and three per cent are overturned.“When a decision is overturned, it is often because the claimant has provided further evidence.”Capita declined to say if it welcomed the council’s review or if it would provide evidence in person to the committee, but a Capita spokeswoman said: “Our assessments are carried out in-line with guidance from the Department for Work and Pensions.”*Tribunal service figures show that more than 11,000 PIP claimants won their tribunal appeals in the third quarter of 2016-17
This is what she left behind for Jacob.Heart, by Adrienne Sevilla. Photo by Lydia Chávez.Adrienne Sevilla. Photo by Lydia Chávez. Sign up for Mission Local’s daily news letter! I imagine we would all like to receive the message that awaits Jacob this morning in Dolores Park. Earlier today, his friend from high school, Adrienne Sevilla, laid out rose petals in the shape of a heart on a slope of the northwest corner of the park.“Love or Lunacy?” the artist asks, in petals, below the heart.Sevilla and Jacob both live on the streets. The ephemeral art was simply her way of saying that she was sorry for not hanging out last night. He’s just a friend, said the artist who also paints and makes jewelry.By 9 a.m., she had finished her composition and was ready to dash off on her bike. Tags: dolores park Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% 0%
ROYCE Simmons has called on his side to show better ball control as they head into this Friday’s clash with Warrington at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.Saints’ head coach pin-pointed this facet of the game as being the main reason they were defeated by Wigan last week.“What have we got to do?” he said… “We have just got to control the ball better. We made 400 tackles in that match and if you have to make that many you’ll never win.“Wigan would beat most sides by 60 or 70 with that much ball. They forced us in goal and the bounces of the ball went their way too. But you make your own luck and we simply weren’t good enough on the day.“I know that if the oppo completes 95 per cent and you make 400 tackles, you’re going to get caned.“We’re also conceding too many tries from kicks. Sides aren’t carrying the ball over the line that much against us, but defending kicks hasn’t been a strong part of our game. We have worked hard on kick and catch, but it is happening too much at the moment.“Repeat sets are an important part of the game as is defending from kicks. If it isn’t good enough you get fatigued and then you start to run one out in the tackle.“If you do that against Wigan they stick 28 blokes in the tackle and you can’t get a quick play the ball. Wilko made 60 tackles, Robes 58 and TP 44; that’s three attacking weapons who aren’t going to give you anything are they?“The response has been good this week though and that is what I want to see. Training has been intense and there has been plenty of contact.”Saints expect Josh Perry and Scott Moore to come back into the reckoning this week and there is good news on Paul Clough who has been sat on the sidelines since the win at Leeds in March.“The specialist is saying four weeks with Cloughie, but Royce Simmons isn’t saying four weeks!” he continued. “He looks like he’d rip the head off a donkey tomorrow. He’s strapped up and ready to go. We could possibly have him back there two weeks early and I’d be surprised if this wasn’t the case. He’s in training and belting people at 100mph.“Cloughie is super professional. You have to throw him out of the gym at night. He’s put in hours of training. He’ll be stretching and treating his injuries before anyone else and then back inside eating right and recovering. He works hard with what he has got and that is why he does so well.”Michael Shenton will be out for two weeks though with an ankle injury whilst Gary Wheeler and Leon Pryce are around three weeks away.Shenton’s loss is a blow – especially as he’s been solid in defence and Saints face the League’s top scorers in Warrington on Friday.“Outside the odd game here and there they have been fantastic and their defence has been good,” Simmons added. “They are at the peak of their game. It doesn’t worry me coming out of the Wigan game though. We go into the game confident.“It is a bonus to come out of an intensive game and roll into another one. But we need to crank it up a level. Our ball control has to be better and we need to push up around the play the ball too.“It is a good opportunity for us really; we can get better and we know that.”
NATHAN Brown has reiterated the need for his charges to be more physical.Saints were dominated by a resurgent Huddersfield pack last Saturday and Saints Head Coach says a repeat is possible if they aren’t on the mark this weekend.“If you’re not physically in the contest, things can fall the opposition’s way,” he said. “Everyone has games like that during the year and unfortunately ours came in round one which makes it worse.“It has happened now though and we know we have to step up physically this week. The players were down, their pride was out and we didn’t plan on playing like that. They have taken their share of responsibility and the coaches have too.“St Helens did the same to Leeds last year and they ended up playing at Wembley and won the Grand Final. If you don’t turn up physically then what happened can happen to anyone.“We were happy with our progression from one friendly to the next and the way we trained; maybe we got a little bit confident.”Brown doesn’t expect to make many changes ahead of the match at Widnes on Sunday and knows the Vikings will be buoyant after a solid win at London.“I’m not into making mass changes after one result; I was confident with that squad of 19 or 20 ahead of the Giants game and I am confident they can do the job this weekend.“Widnes did well at the weekend and we know Gareth Hock will be handful as will Kevin Brown. They have continued where they left off last year.“I have been around too long to worry about pressing the panic button; if you look at every season good teams that don’t physically turn up get beat and that’s what happened to us last Saturday.“I think in sport you can get talent, effort and commitment the wrong way round. You can’t just rely on talent. You need to have the effort and commitment first and then the talent follows. The players at St Helens know what effort is required and know what is needed. Perhaps we got a little too confident. We need effort, commitment and can’t rely on talent.”
THERE’S a Thursday night thriller in prospect this week as Saints travel to Warrington Wolves in the First Utility Super League.The Champions have just two games left of the ‘regular’ season left before the competition splits in the Super 8s phase – with top spot still up for grabs.“We knew what this run in would be like, it would be tough, but you could say that with every block of four games we’ve had this season,” Saints Head Coach Keiron Cunningham said. “There hasn’t been an easy ‘block’ this year but with the new format and era every game is almost knock out as the points carry over.“We do have a tough run in as do a lot of teams and everyone is in with a shout of the top four at the moment.“The points against Huddersfield were big for us. If results had gone against us we could have been sat fourth or fifth. The comp is that close which is good for spectators and TV but not for coaches! We scraped the victory and it does give us a buffer over Huddersfield.”A highlight of that 35-34 win was a hat-trick on debut from Adam Quinlan – who only jetted in a few days before the match.“Adam had a great start and no one would have envisaged what he did,” Keiron added. “He couldn’t believe his luck with his second try so to get three was phenomenal. He is a likeable kid, very unassuming, goes about his business and works hard.“He fits our structure and I have no doubt he will get better as he gains fitness.”Saints expect Jon Wilkin to return to the line-up this week – and that will be a big boost for what is expected to be a standout clash in front of the TV cameras.“Wilko has been immense this year and to get him on the field is important. He is the ultimate competitor and we need that. It is always a gauge of someone’s ability when you want to play with them and I always did. You understand what he brings to the team when he isn’t playing. He is adaptable, can play anywhere on the field and we need his versatility.“There’s probably never a good time to play Warrington. They are well coached and although they have been up and down – they will admit that – they have been working hard off the field and are entitled to their good luck and recent form as a result. They have gone through a transitional period like us, losing key players and have changed their system.“They have changed the way they play too; they are a little more down the middle and play with two 9s. It’s no surprise that since Matty Russell has returned at fullback they have won more games.“Chris Hill has been phenomenal and has to be up there for Man of Steel. He has been superb.”Tickets for the Thursday’s game at the Halliwell Jones Stadium remain on sale from Saints’ Ticket Office, via 01744 455 052 or online here.
MORGAN Knowles, Calvin Wellington and Regan Grace have been named in the squad for Wales’ 2017 Rugby League World Cup Qualifiers this autumn.John Kear has named his 29-man train-on squad for the games against Serbia and Italy.The full squad is:Dan Fleming (Bradford Bulls), Dalton Grant (Dewsbury Rams), Michael Channing (Featherstone Rovers), Elliot Kear, Rhys Williams (London Broncos), Andrew Gay (Mackay Cutters), Rob Massam (North Wales Crusaders), Joe Burke (Oldham), Phil Joseph (Vice Captain) Craig Kopczak (Captain) (Salford Red Devils), Matty Fozard (Sheffield Eagles), Oliver Olds (South Logan Magpies), Courtney Davies, Connor Farrer, Ian Newbury, Christiaan Roets (South Wales Ironmen), Regan Grace, Morgan Knowles, Calvin Wellington (St Helens), Jake Emmitt, Rhodri Lloyd (Swinton Lions), Morgan Evans, Steve Parry, Lewis Reece (University of Gloucestershire All Golds), Anthony Walker (Wakefield Wildcats), Rhys Evans (Warrington Wolves), Gil Dudson, Lloyd White (Widnes Vikings) and Ben Flower (Wigan Warriors).Pool A Fixtures:15 October 2016 – Wales v Serbia, Stebonheath Park, Llanelli22 October 2016 – Serbia v Italy, Makis Stadium, Belgrade29 October 206 – Italy v Wales, Stadio Brianteo, Monza
Originally planned for Friday, May 26, fans are now encouraged to wear their favourite jersey on the eve of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final to celebrate the biggest annual Rugby League event in the calendar.The first-ever Jersey Day is the idea of lifelong Rugby League fan Graham Berry, who will work alongside the Rugby Football League to create the sport’s own version of ‘dress-down Friday’.Jersey Day also has the backing of Leeds Rhinos forward and former international player Jamie Jones-Buchanan, former Great Britain and St Helens player Paul Sculthorpe MBE and Lizzie Jones.Lizzie Jones, whose husband Danny Jones, a former Keighley Cougars player and Welsh international, tragically died following a cardiac arrest in 2015 during a game against London Skolars, is now campaigning to raise funds to purchase defibrillators which can be placed in Rugby League clubs and public places.A special jersey has been made to represent Danny’s club (Keighley Cougars), country (Wales), number (6) and to celebrate Jersey Day – please visit www.rugbystreet.org.uk for more details.On the concept of Jersey Day, Jamie Jones-Buchanan said: “This a fantastic way to celebrate our sport and a day that has already been marked on my calendar.“I’ve accrued a few jerseys in my career and plenty hold many memories for one reason or another; from winning the Challenge Cup at Wembley to my community club colours (Stanningley) which set the template for my 2009 Testimonial shirt.“It doesn’t matter whether you’re at work, school or in London ahead of the final, I’d encourage everyone to get their favourite jersey on!”Lizzie Jones added: “I’m excited to see everyone wearing their Rugby League jerseys on August 25.“For those that would like to make a donation in the build-up and on Jersey Day, the Danny Jones Defibrillator Fund is going from strength to strength and now helping many clubs purchase life-saving equipment.“The way everyone comes together for events like these really does make me proud to be involved in this sport.”Fans wanting to make a donation to the Danny Jones Defibrillator Fund on Jersey Day can do so via the official Just Giving page www.justgiving.com/fundraising/danny-jones-defibrillator-fund
England will play two Test Matches against the French – at the KCOM Craven Park Stadium in Hull on Wednesday 17 July (kick off 7pm) and at Wakefield’s Mobile Rocket Stadium on Saturday 20 July (KO 2pm). Both games will be shown live on the RFL’s Our League app.Castleford Tigers, City of Hull, Warrington Wolves and Wigan Warriors also supply three players, with the remainder coming from Huddersfield Giants, Leeds Rhinos, London Broncos, Newcastle Thunder and Wakefield Trinity.England Youth team offers a well-established pathway to the elite level, via the England Academy system. Both are incorporated within the RFL’s England Performance Unit (EPU) which aims to develop more world-class England players for all senior squads by 2021.Head coach Danny Wilson is supported by, among others, Saints legend and former Great Britain international and Man of Steel, Paul Sculthorpe, whose role as England Pathways Coach focuses on the development of country’s outstanding young players.The full squad (including academy side, school and community club details) is as follows.Jake Anderson (Newcastle Thunder/Lord Lawson of Beamish/Gateshead Storm)Logan Astley (Wigan Warriors/Standish High/Orrell)Owen Blackwood (St Helens/Saint Peter & Paul’s/Blackbrook)Luke Broadbent (Warrington Wolves/St Bernard’s/Walney Central)Archie Fletcher (Castleford Tigers/Malet Lambert/West Hull)Bailey Hodgson (Castleford Tigers/Wolfreton/West Hull)Jacob Hookem (City of Hull/Malet Lambert/Skirlaugh)Coby Nichol (Leeds Rhinos/Brooksbank/Siddal)Matty Nicholson (Wigan Warriors/Brooksbank/Siddal)Taylor Pemberton (St Helens/Lowton High/Leigh East)Will Pryce (Huddersfield Giants/Queensbury/Siddal)Kieran Rennox (Warrington Wolves/Hawkley Hall/Wigan St Patrick’s)Cain Robb (Castleford Tigers/Driffield/West Hull)Fenton Rogers (Huddersfield Giants/Saddleworth/Saddleworth Rangers)Femi Sanya (London Broncos/Coopers & Coborn/Brentwood Eels)Isaac Shaw (Wakefield Trinity/Shelley College/Emley Moor)Joel Speed (City of Hull/Cottingham/West Hull)Leon Stewart (City of Hull/Sirius Academy West/West Hull)Reece Sumner (St Helens/Wade Deacon/Widnes Moorfield)Alex Sutton (Wigan Warriors/Wade Deacon/Blackbrook)Ajahni Wallace (Leeds Rhinos/Rastrick/Siddal)Tom Whitehead (Warrington Wolves/Saddleworth/Saddleworth Rangers)
WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The State of North Carolina is seeking public input for a study on the feasibility and suitability of a state park on the Black River in parts of Sampson, Bladen, and Pender counties.During the last legislative session, the N.C. General Assembly directed the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation to undertake the study and report results to the Legislative Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources by March 1, 2018.- Advertisement – The Black River is home to large cypress trees, some of which are more than 1,600 years old, making it a popular paddling destination in an area currently underserved by the State Parks system. The study area is roughly 2,600 acres and includes 45 miles of the Black River corridor.The study will create a vision for what a state park, natural area, or trail could look like, including what amenities would be most important to nearby communities and other potential users. It will include an evaluation of the natural and cultural heritage significance of the area, whether it meets criteria to be part of the state park system, the suitability of the Black River for recreation, and a cost estimate for developing the park.A series of public meetings will be held to seek public input as part of the study. They will be in an open house format to allow the public to stop in at any time to provide comments and ask questions about the proposed park. Members of the design team, park rangers and staff from the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation will be on hand to answer questions.Related Article: Man arrested following high-speed crash in Pender CountyThe public meeting schedule is as follows:Bladen County – Thursday, Sept. 14, 4-7 p.m. at the Public Library at 111 North Cypress St. in Elizabethtown, N.C.Pender County – Monday, Sept. 18, 4-7 p.m. at the Cooperative Extension Office at 801 South Walker St. in Burgaw, N.C.Sampson County – Wednesday, Sept. 20, 4:30-7:30 p.m. at Union Elementary School at 10400 Taylors Bridge Highway in Clinton, N.C.
While that’s being done to combat a school bus driver shortage, TAs say its causing a shortage in other areas: their paychecks.Teacher assistant Sarah Jane works at Eaton Elementary, a year-round school.While they will get paid the same amount annually, how it is distributed each month will vary. Jane says her paycheck is currently a steady $1,500 a month. But once she becomes hourly, she will only bring home $557 for the entire month of October because Eaton is on intersession the first two weeks of the month.Related Article: Pine Valley Library to open shortly after Myrtle Grove location closureThe New Hanover County School Board is holding a special meeting on Tuesday to discuss the issue.Tonight on WWAY News, we’ll find out what a school board member has to say about the change and hear more from Jane. (Photo: Kirsten Gutierrez/WWAY) NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A change in the way teacher assistants in New Hanover County are paid have some worried about their monthly income.Starting July 1, TAs will go from salaried to hourly employees. The change is a result of the New Hanover County School Board voting to require newly hired TAs to get their CDLs and drive a bus. – Advertisement –