Complaints about the personal independence payment

first_imgComplaints about the personal independence payment (PIP) assessment process rose by nearly 900 per cent last year – from 142 to 1,391 – apparently corroborating the results of a year-long Disability News Service investigation.The Department for Work and Pensions figures also show that the number of complaints about PIP assessments that were upheld rose by more than 700 per cent in the same year (from 67 in 2015-16 to 545 in 2016-17).The figures provide probably the strongest evidence yet to support the findings of the investigation carried out by Disability News Service (DNS) into claims of widespread dishonesty at the heart of the PIP assessment process.Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, Debbie Abrahams, said the “huge increase” showed that the healthcare professionals who carry out the assessments must be held to account.She said the figures were also “an absolute indictment of the Tories’ punitive assessments and the miserable effect they are having on people trying to access desperately needed support”.The enormous increases in both complaints lodged and those upheld, between 2015-16 and 2016-17, come despite a rise of just 34 per cent in the number of PIP claims registered in the same period.DNS only decided to begin its PIP investigation in November 2016 because of a steady trickle of emails and phone calls from disabled people raising concerns about the PIP assessment process, and who were insisting that the healthcare professionals who had assessed them had produced dishonest reports for DWP.The new figures appear to suggest that whatever was causing this dishonesty in the assessment system appears to have become a significant problem during 2016-17.DNS has now heard from more than 250 PIP claimants who say their assessment reports were dishonest.They have told DNS that assessors working for DWP contractors Capita and Atos – many of them nurses – have repeatedly lied, ignored written evidence and dishonestly reported the results of physical examinations.The figures on PIP assessment complaints were given last week to the Labour MP Stephen Kinnock by the minister for disabled people, Penny Mordaunt, in response to a parliamentary question.Mordaunt told Kinnock that the number of complaints received about the PIP assessment process increased from just 142 in 2015-16 to 1,391 in 2016-17 (a rise of 880 per cent).And she said that the number of complaints about the PIP assessment process that were upheld rose from 67 in 2015-16 to 545 in 2016-17 (an increase of 713 per cent).Other DWP statistics and DNS calculations show that, in the same period, the number of PIP claims registered – including new claims and reassessments – only increased from 783,585 to 1,047,976, a far smaller rise of about 34 per cent.Abrahams said: “These profit-making health assessment companies must recognise that their assessments are not fit for purpose, given the increase in complaints received and numbers overturned on tribunal.“However, assessments are conducted by clinical professionals and we must be holding these clinical professionals to account too. “I have personally heard of dozens and dozens of cases of assessment reports not marrying at all with the assessment and medical records that were supplied.“The huge increase in complaints made and upheld about the PIP assessment process are an absolute indictment of the Tories’ punitive assessments and the miserable effect they are having on people trying to access desperately needed support.“Labour is committed to scrapping these harmful assessments and replacing them with a holistic, person-centred approach, under our plans to ensure that, like the NHS, the social security system is there for us all in our time of need.”Kinnock said the figures were “further evidence that the PIP system is not fit for purpose”, despite the assessment system being in place for more than four years.He said: “While the scale of this is truly shocking, it is not in the least bit surprising, because week after week I hear from my constituents about how claimants are treated, how they are humiliated, belittled and denied basic human dignity.“Government has been told by MPs, claimants and by disability experts that the system needs reviewing.  “Instead, they have carried on regardless with their ideological drive to remove the help which people so desperately need, so that they are able to manage the basic daily costs of living with a disability.” A DWP spokesman was unable to offer any explanation for the huge rise in complaints.But he said: “Complaints may be made for a variety of reasons and there is no evidence to suggest that there is dishonesty in the assessment system.“The percentage increases in complaints which you have mentioned do not consider the number of complaints as a proportion of the overall number of PIP cases which we process.“We are now clearing 81,000 claims each month compared with around 80,000 per month this time last year.“Our latest research shows that 76 per cent of PIP claimants are satisfied with their overall experience.“More than 2.4 million PIP decisions have been made, and of these eight per cent have been appealed and four per cent have been overturned.“In the majority of successful appeals, decisions are overturned because people have submitted more oral or written evidence.”PIP claimants who want to contribute to an inquiry by the Commons work and pensions committee into the effectiveness of the PIP assessment system, as well as the work capability assessment, have until 10 November to submit their evidence. They can also post evidence on the committee’s web forumlast_img read more

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Three leading disabled campaigners have backed a p

first_imgThree leading disabled campaigners have backed a petition that calls on the government to force all new large buildings to include a Changing Places toilet.The petition, launched by Lorna Fillingham, who has a disabled child, has now been signed by more than 50,000 people, and will soon be delivered to the prime minister.The campaign has been boosted by support from the crossbench peer Baroness [Jane] Campbell – herself a regular user of Changing Places toilets – Paralympian Anne Wafula Strike, and journalist and presenter Mik Scarlet.There are currently only about 1,060 Changing Places toilets (pictured) – facilities with extra space and equipment for disabled people who cannot use standard accessible toilets – across the whole of the UK, even though there are believed to be more than 250,000 disabled people who need them.Guidance provided under British Standard 8300 recommends that such facilities should be included in larger buildings and complexes such as motorway services, sports stadiums, shopping centres, airports, town halls, schools and hospitals.But Fillingham, who is working closely with Wafula Strike on the campaign, wants the government to make changes to building regulations to ensure that planning permission cannot be granted for such developments unless they include a Changing Places toilet.The call in Fillingham’s petition mirrors a recommendation in last year’s report on disability and the built environment by the Commons women and equalities committee, which called for all large building developments to include a Changing Places toilet.Baroness Campbell told Disability News Service (DNS): “I completely support the campaign.“I heavily rely on Changing Places facilities and their absence does hamper my ability to accept certain engagements far from home or work.“Parliament has an excellent Changing Places facility which means I can carry on with my work to the early hours.”Wafula Strike said: “Every human being has a right to access a toilet and it’s very sad that a section of the disabled community are not able to use suitable facilities to change in.“It breaks my heart that in the 21st century disabled people, their parents and carers are denied this basic right.”Scarlet said he also supported the petition.He said Changing Places facilities were “essential for a forward-looking business that wants to future-proof any major project.“Imagine if every train and bus station in every town had a Changing Places toilet, how that would change lives.”But he said that for too long the building industry had provided only those facilities that had to be included under building regulations.He said: “Changing Places toilet provision has to be put into building regulations or we’ll see no real change.“But it would be nice if architects and developers put them in before this happens, to future proof and do the right thing.”Fillingham says in her petition that her seven-year-old daughter is now “too large for a baby changing unit and our only other option is the toilet floor, which is unsanitary, unhygienic and in my mind inhumane as well as undignified.“I don’t know what body fluids may have spilled there, or what might have been brought in on someone’s shoes or wheels.“This is a completely unacceptable and unreasonable situation for anybody to be exposed to.”She told DNS this week: “It really is time for change.“I’ve heard too many harrowing stories now, of disabled children being changed on toilet floors and of disabled adults having surgery to have suprapubic catheters fitted in order to avoid having to use the loo when they are out and about as there is such a lack of Changing Places facilities.”A spokesman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “We know that providing these accessible toilets is very important for some people with disabilities so we have worked with Mencap and the Changing Places campaign to improve facilities. “There are now 1,060 of these toilets across the UK, up from just 140 in 2007, and we have helped fund the development of a new website so people know where to find them.” He said the department was committed to promoting accessibility and had commissioned research to assess whether guidance in the building regulations “adequately meets the needs of disabled people when new building work is carried out.“We will consider the findings of that research as they relate to Changing Places toilets and how to promote their provision further.”Asked if the department would consider making the inclusion of a Changing Places toilet compulsory for new larger buildings and complexes, he declined to comment further.last_img read more

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SFs Muni was fined 220K by state for blowing off emissions requirements

first_img Tags: muni Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% 0% It feels like Muni is under a cloud of late. One of its own making. This week, Mission Local revealed that the agency’s new diesel-electric hybrid buses are operating without a pollution-control program that has been par for the municipal transit course since the 1980s. The buses’ onboard computers are not programmed to shut down the engine after several minutes of idling — and sources say buses are being allowed to idle excessively in the yards, a decades-long Muni malady. Muni, it turns out, is on an emissions kick. In September of last year, it quietly agreed to a settlement with the California Air Resources Board: Muni pledged to fork over $220,500, mend its ways and make investments in training and maintenance after the state regulators alleged San Francisco’s transit agency failed, for years, to ensure its vehicles met California emissions standards — and failed to even attempt to do so. “SFMTA failed to test, measure, record and maintain records of smoke emissions from its fleet of heavy-duty diesel vehicles for years 2013 and 2014,” states the settlement agreement. The state says some 329 buses failed to meet “the applicable in-use performance standards.” center_img While the Air Resources Board occasionally puts out a press release trumpeting its settlement agreements  it did not do so in this case. Muni was the only municipal transit agency dinged by the state in 2016. No news stories — prior to this one — have been written about Muni’s hefty fine and settlement for evading emissions requirements. Muni’s failure to measure, maintain and record emissions levels led, unsurprisingly, to its failure to submit mandatory annual reports detailing the above. In addition to the fine, Muni was required to remedy this and other mechanical and clerical practices. The transit agency was ordered to train its staff on emissions testing procedures — and to begin smog-testing its vehicles. One of the settlement’s stipulations stated that “SFMTA shall instruct all employees who operate diesel-fueled vehicles to comply with the idling requirements” of section 13 in the California Code of Regulation. The state, bluntly, is ordering Muni to cease violating the law. And, intriguingly, it was these very laws regarding over-idling buses that Muni workers allege are still being broken when coaches are allowed to rumble on indefinitely at bus yards. These are the buses, again, in which Muni opted to not install automated programs that would curtail excessive idling. It is questionable how well this stipulation is being followed. Muni is allegedly doing one of the very things the state ordered it to not do, and its decision to not install idling auto-shutdown programs further enables that.  When queried about the settlement, Muni officials sent an e-mail claiming the situation had “less to do with the actual emissions of the vehicles than … with paperwork and regulatory policies” — and was exacerbated by the inconsistent advice and faulty equipment of the Air Resources Board.Queries to the Air Resources Board seeking its view of Muni’s response — and asking whether Muni could be subject to further fines — have not yet been answered. last_img read more

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Rene Yañez Mission icon dies at 75

first_img“He was surrounded by people who loved him and having been taking amazing care of him,” Rio Yañez, his son, wrote in a Facebook post. “Rene is my Father, my creative partner, and my best friend,” he continued. “I miss him so much already.” Some remembered him for kicking off a unique style that incorporated art, activism and humor. “Rene Yañez taught us how to use our art to organize, how to hold space for Chicanos in the art world, how to fight and how to mourn beautifully,” said local educator Nancy Pili in a Tweet. “I’m so grateful for his life. May the ancestors greet him with open arms.” Mary Molly Mullaney, who said on Facebook that she worked with Yañez at SOMArts Cultural Center for 16 years, said his art inspired her daughter. “Rene, you are always amazing to watch working with artists to bring out their best work for their art installations,” she added. “You bless all you know and meet by sharing your talents and humor.” We will be publishing a full obituary this week. Rene Yañez, an artist and co-founder of Galería De La Raza and the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, died Tuesday morning in the hospital. He was 75. Yañez had long suffered from cancer, and despite a short prognosis and intensifying symptoms, he continued to produce art until the end, showing it earlier this year at “Into the Fade” at the Luggage Store. Reviewing the show for Mission Local, Lydia Chavez wrote, “The breadth and playfulness recall SFMOMA’s Robert Rauschenberg show, “Erasing the Rules.” Like Rauschenberg, Yañez has a restless mind and loads of talent, and he experiments freely with medium and materials.”  Following the news of his death, friends and family members took to social media to mourn the loss of the local icon that helped define culture in the neighborhood. Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newsletterEmail Address 0% Tags: Galería de la Raza • Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts • Rene Yañez Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%last_img read more

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Clarkton man arrested last week on drug charges identified as inmate suicide

first_imgAndrew James Ellis and photo of marijuana grow operation in Clarkton (Photo: Columbus Co. Sheriff’s Office) COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The Columbus County Sheriff’s Office has released the identity of the inmate found dead of an apparent suicide last week.Investigators say Andrew James Ellis, 37, was found unconscious in the Columbus County Detention Center on Thursday.- Advertisement – Staff performed CPR until Whiteville Rescue arrived. Ellis was pronounced dead at Columbus Regional Healthcare System.Ellis was arrested just days earlier, on April 16 in Clarkton, after investigators found marijuana plants growing at a home on Mercer Mill Road.  He faced several drug charges and was being held under a $30,000 bond.Related Article: WPD: ‘Aggressive’ panhandler shot by man during attack in downtown WilmingtonEllis’ cause of death is pending autopsy.last_img read more

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HGTV to film in Sunset Beach over the weekend

first_img A description of the show on HGTV’s website reads: “Each week we follow a family making their beachfront living dreams come true — on a budget! We’ll follow them on the house hunt as we discover some of the most surprisingly affordable beachfront locales that prove you don’t need to be a millionaire to live right on the beach.”Marziano says filming will likely take place at a few different houses, a restaurant or cafe, and of course, the beach!He says it will be a mobile crew, and no streets will be shut down during filming. Sunset Beach Town Hall (Photo: Basil John/WWAY) SUNSET BEACH, NC (WWAY) — HGTV’s “Beachfront Bargain Hunt” is coming to Sunset Beach!Town administrator Hiram J. Marziano, II says filming will begin Friday and will continue through the weekend.- Advertisement – last_img read more

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WWII bomber will take flight from Wilmington to new home

first_img After fighting in four American wars and performing in countless air shows, this A-26 Invader Attack Bomber is leaving Wilmington for the North Carolina Aviation Hall of Fame in Asheboro.Capt. George Lancaster said this plane has meant a great deal not only to him, but to all of Wilmington.“It was in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Bay of Pigs,” Lancaster said. “It had a real important part in all of the wars. It was the main attraction in a lot of air shows because it was big and ugly and pretty, all the same.”Related Article: Severe weather impacting flights at ILMLancaster has been paying $200 a month to keep the plane at Wilmington International Airport, where he said no one can appreciate it.He’s excited for it to make the trip its final destination.“Up there they’re gonna give me a free hanger, inside on a closed hanger for free,” Lancaster explained. “It won’t be any money out of my pocket at all. Plus the fact they got volunteers out there who want to work on the plane, clean it up and put a detail on it and they’re really looking forward to it.”Lancaster may have the opportunity to sell the plane in the distant future, but he said it would not just be about monetary gain.“If the time comes to sell it, it would be a good deal for me, but I want it to be in a good home of course and it’s gotta be someone who loves this kind of air plane,” Lancaster said. “It can’t be someone who rides around in a new 20 engine airplane that’s a turbo prop. This is not a turbo prop kind of airplane. It takes a special kind of person who wants to fly this kind of airplane.”Captain Lancaster says that the plane will be moved to Asheboro in the next few weeks. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Spirit of North Carolina is a World War II era plane that’s served many purposes over the last 75 years. It will soon take off from Wilmington for the last time.The captain and remaining members of the crew are glad to see this sentimental aircraft  serve a different purpose.- Advertisement – last_img read more

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Countrys reputation went to the dogs – Reżistenza Malta

first_imgA few days before the Freedom Day’s 40th jubilee, Reżistenza Malta has issued a press release to show its dismay “that the country’s reputation went to the dogs”.Reżistenza Malta is calling for the re-establishment of the rule of law, the impartiality of the Judiciary, the decency in the way institutions function, and to identify and bring to justice the masterminds behind Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.They are stating that since the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat took the helm of the country, Malta had become known as “the EU’s bad boy”. They also say that whilst we are celebration the freedom from foreign powers, we are “living in a fiefdom of a feudal lord who survives by appealing to man’s worst instincts: greed and selfishness”.They also refer to the resolution approved during Tuesday’s EP plenary session which confirmed what other international institutions have been saying about Malta and how our financial system has the characteristics of a tax haven.Reżistenza Malta is also calling on the government to discontinue the golden passport and residency schemes as they are nothing short of “an act of piracy” as foreigners are not paying for Maltese citizenship but for citizenship of the European Union.WhatsApp <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> SharePrintlast_img read more

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Is your website Hacker proof

first_imgAdvertisement Each day, Google identifies 9,500 malware-infected websites, about 4,000 of which are legitimate sites compromised by hackers. About half of these victims learn they’ve been hacked when they see the same browser and search-engine danger warnings their customers see, a sign they’ve been blacklisted.Hackers are constantly breaking into innocent websites and using them to infect visitors with malware, lure them to dodgy sites and infiltrate databases to grab sensitive customer information. But you can avoid trouble or eliminate it quickly by taking some relatively simple steps.Small businesses are especially vulnerable to hacking because they usually lack the technology expertise and site security that larger companies have. They also suffer more if their lack of expertise slows repairs and their ability to get back to work. Business owners can lose significant online traffic and sales if their site lands on blacklists operated by Google and other search engines. – Advertisement – A lot of people will have to tangle with [a hack] at some point in time, my advice for companies is secure everything.Here’s how to get started:Keep your software up to date. Hackers aggressively target security flaws in popular Web software such as content management systems and blogging programs so they can attack websites en masse. Stay out of the line of fire by using the latest versions of software and applying security patches promptly.Sites that get infected and clean up, but don’t fix the vulnerability in their software, just get re-infected,” says Lucas Ballard, a software engineer with Google’s Safe Browsing team. He urges webmasters to address the underlying weakness that enabled the hack, as well as remove hackers’ malicious code from site pages.Use strong passwords and keep them safe. Using strong passwords is crucial because hackers frequently attempt to crack or steal passwords for web software and FTP servers, which are computers that use the File Transfer Protocol to move web pages and other files to another computer, such as a Web-hosting server. Default, common or predicable passwords can be easily broken.Also make sure to protect your PCs from a virus infection since that can lead to the theft of site passwords. An infection in a computer can allow hackers to steal your FTP password and plant malware that infects visitors to your sites.Register with Google’s Webmaster Tools. Getting on Google’s blacklist, which is used by the search site and the Chrome, Firefox and Safari browsers, can reduce traffic to your site. By registering with Webmaster Tools, you can receive notifications of malware infections immediately, sometimes before blacklisting occurs, so you can get rid of them faster. The service also provides details about the precise problem Google is seeing. That can speed your clean up and your return to Google’s good books.Get expert help. Companies that are heavily dependent on their websites may want to hire a firm that provides alerts if they get on a blacklist, monitoring for malicious activity, scanning for security vulnerabilities or help with repairs after a hack. Businesses that have databases with sensitive customer information connected to their sites should get help building security into their sites and scouring software code for bugs.Information from Entrepreneur.com was used in this post.last_img read more

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Chronology Steve Ballmers tenure as Microsoft CEO

first_imgRetiring Microsoft Corp CEO Steve Ballmer Advertisement Retiring Microsoft Corp CEO Steve BallmerMicrosoft Corp CEO Steve Ballmer unexpectedly announced on Friday that he would retire in 2014, 13 years after he took over the dominant personal computer software company and tried to steer it into growing markets like video games, portable music players, smartphones and tablets.The following is a chronology of events during Ballmer’s time as Microsoft chief executive.1998 – Ballmer assumes role of president at Microsoft and takes charge of day-to-day operations. Prior to that, he led numerous divisions, including sales and support and operating-systems development. – Advertisement – 2000 – Ballmer succeeds Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates as CEO in January. The two met as students at Harvard University, where Gates lived down the hall from Ballmer. In 1975, 19-year-old Gates dropped out of Harvard and went on to found Microsoft along with Paul Allen.2001 – In November, Microsoft enters the gaming market with the North American release of its Xbox gaming console, competing with game consoles from Nintendo Co Ltd and Sony Corp.2005 – Microsoft launches the next-generation Xbox 360 video game console in November, strengthening its foothold in the video game hardware market. 2006 – Microsoft launches Zune portable music player in November. It is the first Microsoft-designed device to compete in a market dominated by Apple Inc’s iPod. The music player does not gain enough of a market, and Microsoft discontinues selling it by mid-2012.[related-posts]2007 – In January, Microsoft unveils the Windows Vista, which becomes the company’s least popular operating system.2008 – Ballmer makes an unsolicited US$44.6bil (RM133.8bil), US$31 (RM(93)-per-share, cash-and-stock takeover offer to Yahoo Inc’s board. Yahoo rejects the bid as too low. 2009 – Microsoft revamps its search engine to counter Google Inc’s dominance in the Web search and related advertising business. In May, Ballmer reveals the new search engine, dubbed “Bing” that is set for a June release.2009 – In July, Microsoft and Yahoo launch a 10-year Web search deal to challenge market leader Google. Under the deal, the two companies agree that Microsoft’s Bing search engine will power search queries on Yahoo’s sites. They have been in on-again, off-again talks since Yahoo rebuffed Microsoft’s takeover bid.2010 – Microsoft releases its Windows Phone operating system for mobile phones, trying to claw its way into the smartphone market and woo consumers away from Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android devices.2011 – In February, Nokia and Microsoft strike a deal, in a bid to take on the smartphone market. By 2013, the partnership has yet to produce a product that has taken market share from Google and Apple.2012 – Microsoft, hoping for a hit, launches Surface tablets and its Windows 8 operating system that uses touch commands. The devices do not gain much market share in the tablet market, dominated by Apple’s iPad and Samsung’s Galaxy mobile devices.2013 – On August 23, Ballmer announces he will step down within 12 months, surprising industry watchers.Credit: TheStarOnlinelast_img read more

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