Three disabled peers have led fresh efforts to halt government plans to cut £1, 500 a year from hundreds of thousands of claimants of out-of-work disability benefits.The House of Lords overwhelmingly passed an amendment – later rejected by MPs* – by the disabled crossbench peer Lord [Colin] Low that would have delayed the measure until the government had researched its impact on people’s health, income and ability to return to work.The government proposal would mean a loss of about £30 a week for new employment and support allowance (ESA) claimants placed in the work-related activity group (WRAG) from April 2017.Peers heard this week that the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) had written to a Labour MP raising concerns about the impact assessments carried out by the government for the welfare reform and work bill.EHRC chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath said in the letter that the government’s analysis relating to the WRAG cut was “very limited”, while the assessments as a whole “contain very little in the way of evidence”.Lord Freud said the amendment would “substantially delay implementation” of the WRAG cut, possibly until 2020, and accused Lord Low of “a delaying tactic that undermines conventional parliamentary process”.But Lord Low (pictured during the debate) replied: “The minister said it would be an expensive and time-consuming matter to provide the information my amendment calls for, but I would say that if the government do not already have this kind of information they should not seek to implement such a drastic cut to ESA in the first place.”His fellow disabled crossbench peer, Baroness [Jane] Campbell, said that for the government to suggest the cut would incentivise disabled people to work was “deeply flawed and, frankly, quite offensive”.She said that disabled people in the WRAG faced “multiple costly barriers in finding work and in just living from day to day”, including managing their conditions and getting to work and staying in work, such as inaccessible transport, offices and information systems, and employers’ attitudes.She said the government should not be asking peers to vote for such a measure until it had published its planned white paper on employment support for disabled people later this year.She said: “It is nonsense to make such drastic changes to the financial support received by disabled people in the WRAG before the House knows what a reformed employment and support system will look like in the future.“The government are asking us today to take a massive leap of faith in their future policy intentions. This is a huge gamble with people’s lives and survival, and I am not prepared to take it.”A third disabled crossbench peer, Baroness [Tanni] Grey-Thompson, also attacked the government’s proposals.She said: “It almost feels as if we are putting the blame on disabled people, trying to fix them and not understanding the barriers that they face getting into work.“Reducing the gap between those who are economically inactive through sickness and those who are unemployed throws away all recognition of those who are facing hardship through sickness and through no fault of their own.”Lord Low’s amendment was passed by 289 votes to 219.The Lords had previously thrown out the WRAG measure – again through a Lord Low amendment to the bill – but Tory MPs reinstated it into the bill last week.Welfare reform minister Lord Freud had attempted to win over peers by offering concessions that would see an extra £15 million for support for WRAG claimants from jobcentres, and removing the 52-week limit on how long WRAG claimants can carry out up to 16 hours of “permitted work” a week while still claiming ESA.But Lord Low said the concessions were “just not enough”, while Baroness Campbell said they would “do little to address these barriers that have nothing to do with sorting out the individual but have everything to do with sorting out society”.Last week, Disability News Service reported that the government was likely to face legal action if it pushed ahead with the WRAG cut.Disabled People Against Cuts has taken advice from a barrister, and has been told that a legal challenge – arguing that the group of disabled people affected would be discriminated against under the Equality Act – has a good chance of success, but could only be taken once the cut had been implemented.*Last night, MPs threw out Lord Low’s amendment, by 309 to 274 votes. It will return to the Lords but it is likely that peers will now be forced to admit defeat and allow the WRAG cut to go ahead
A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS… Ministers are refusing to say if they acted on the recommendations of a secret review that linked the death of a benefit claimant with the “threatening” conditions they were forced to accept when signing up to universal credit.The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has breached freedom of information laws by failing to say whether it followed the recommendation by one of its own internal process reviews to make universal credit’s so-called “claimant commitment” less threatening following the death.DWP’s failure came as the chancellor, Philip Hammond, attempted in this week’s budget to calm concerns about the rollout of the troubled new system by announcing extra funding of £1 billion over five-and-a-half years that he said would help the migration of claimants of other benefits onto universal credit from next year.He also announced £1.7 billion a year to increase universal credit work allowances.But critics have said the extra money will do little to address growing concerns that flaws at the heart of the universal credit system are exposing disabled people and other claimants to strict conditions and sanctions, resulting in severe mental distress and extreme poverty.Only last week, Disability News Service (DNS) reported how an autistic woman said she had been left without vital financial support for nearly two years because she could not cope with the face-to-face interview she had to undergo to complete her universal credit claim.Now DWP is facing questions over why it is refusing to say if it followed the recommendations of its own internal review to make the claimant commitment less threatening, following the death of a universal credit claimant.Only the barest details of the death are available, describing only the recommendations made by the review.But those details show that a panel of reviewers who examined the circumstances around the death concluded that it seemed “excessive” for DWP to include eight references to benefit sanctions and how much money a claimant would lose if they breached their claimant commitment.The claimant commitment sets out the “responsibilities” that a claimant has to accept in return for receiving universal credit, and “the consequences of not meeting them”.An examination of guidance on the claimant commitment on DWP’s website suggests – although it does not prove – that the department has ignored the panel’s recommendation, as it has not been updated since April 2016. The claimant commitment review was carried out at some point between April 2016 and June 2018.Following a freedom of information request submitted by DNS, DWP had 20 working days to say whether it had followed the panel’s recommendation to “reconsider the wording of the Claimant Commitment”, along with recommendations made in 11 other internal process reviews, all of which were carried out between April 2016 and June 2018, and all but three of which examined circumstances that led to the death of a benefit claimant.But DWP’s freedom of information department failed to respond to the request submitted by DNS on 28 September, breaching its Freedom of Information Act duties.DWP’s press office refused to comment on the failure to respond to the request, other than to say that its freedom of information team would “be in touch”.A DWP spokeswoman refused to say why the team had failed to respond to the request.Disabled activists have repeatedly warned that universal credit – which combines six income-related benefits into one – is “rotten to the core” with “soaring” rates of sanctions and foodbank use in areas where it has been introduced.In June, a report by the National Audit Office said DWP was failing to support “vulnerable” claimants and was unable to monitor how they were being treated under universal credit.And in July, employment minister Alok Sharma was asked by MPs on the Commons work and pensions committee why the benefits of hundreds of sick and disabled universal credit claimants were apparently being sanctioned, even though they should not have had to meet any of the strict conditions imposed by the system.In the same month, further concerns were raised by the committee about disabled people with high support needs who have to claim universal credit and face the possibility of strict conditions – such as being forced to carry out hours of job searches every week – as they wait for a work capability assessment.
A disabled campaigner has told London’s walking and cycling commissioner that all shared space street developments should be halted because they are too dangerous for disabled and older people.Dr Tom Pey (pictured, second from left), chief executive of the Royal Society for Blind Children and a leading opponent of shared space developments, said such schemes were based on “flawed” principles and caused a minority of drivers to become “more angry and reckless”.He said:“Why would we want… reckless drivers driving around in places where there areno footpaths?”Shared spaceschemes often remove kerbs and controlled crossings from a street, encouragingvehicles, pedestrians and cyclists to share the same space, posing greaterrisks for partially-sighted and blind people, as well as other disabled people,including many of those who are neuro-diverse, or have mobility impairments,learning difficulties or are deaf.Pey was speaking at the Access AllAreas event onaccessible transport, organised by Transport for London (TfL), and was sharing a stage with themayor of London’s walking and cycling commissioner, Dr Will Norman. Norman (pictured, third from left) stressed that the priorities of the mayor’s transport strategy for the capital’s roads were the needs and safety of pedestrians, cyclists, users of mobility aids and public transport, and a key target was to reduce unnecessary car journeys.But he repeatedlydeclined to comment on the mayor’s policy on shared spaces.Pey said Normanshould not try to “conflate” the issue of encouraging pedestrians and cyclistswith shared spaces. He said itwas a “research fact” that shared spaces created a less safe environment.He said: “Sharedspace started in Holland, in continental Europe, where they are [now] beingabandoned because they do not work for disabled people. “Researchshows that where there is a shared space, disabled people just don’t go thereanymore because it isn’t safe.”Norman saidcities like London “always need new solutions” and new types of infrastructure.He said: “Dowe always get them right all the time? No. Will we sit down and work withpeople? Yes, and we’ve got a track record of doing that.”But Norman thengave an example of how TfL had installed zebra crossings across bus stop bypassschemes – where the bus stop is placed on an island, with pedestrians forced tocross a cycle lane to reach it – a solution heavily criticised last month by NationalFederation of the Blind of the UK.In January, NFB UK filmed a succession ofcyclists riding through a zebra crossing introduced as part of a bus stopbypass scheme in Manchester, even though a blind man with a white cane waswaiting with his cane on the crossing.Pey toldNorman: “I don’t want to sound hyper-critical of TfL but I think what would bereally helpful would be if we took this shared space, a bit like a No DealBrexit, if we took it off the table and then everybody can sit down and signup… to a city that is safer. “It’s notjust disabled people who find it difficult to navigate in London, it’s olderpeople, it’s visitors, it’s lots of people, and we have got to find anintegrated solution for this. “We all haveto learn how to do things differently, including the regulators of this city.”TfL had notresponded by noon today (Thursday) to a request from Disability News Servicefor clarification on its policy on shared space developments.But it says95 per cent of its bus stops are now accessible, while there are more than 200step-free stations across its network, including 78 London Underground (LU) stations,58 overground stations, six TfL-run rail stations and all Docklands LightRailway stations and tram stops. Eight more undergroundstations are set to be step-free by March 2020, with work underway at a furtherseven.The AccessAll Areas event also included workshops and an exhibition of accessibilityinnovations, including an electric bus and taxi, a driverless car, and a newStation Real Time Information App.The app allows LU station staff to report station incidents that may affect passenger journeys, such as a lift going out of service, and also allows LU staff to record disabled passengers who wish to use TfL’s Turn Up and Go service, which provides assistance to disabled passengers who have not booked help in advance.A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…
WITH the upcoming birth of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge’s second child, the UK is about to go royal crazy and First Utility, official sponsors of the Super League, are on the hunt for the next Prince or Princess of the sport.St Helens’ fans who are expecting a child are invited to register their details, with one lucky family winning a pack of baby products worth £229, representing the amount of money a fan could save if they switched their gas and electricity to First Utility. The new Prince or Princess will also receive the full royal treatment at a Saints’ game of their choice.The winner, and newest regal member of Rugby League’s fan-base, will win an array of gifts and treats fit for a royal new-born, including club merchandise and baby essentials. To register your details and be in with a chance of being a part of the Rugby League royal family, visit www.Facebook.com/FirstUtilitySuperLeague The Prince or Princess of Super League will also experience their first taste of the Super League as distinguished guests of First Utility. At a game of their choice, the family will receive full hospitality treatment, complete with a royal portrait and celebratory reception, creating a match-day experience fit for a Prince or Princess!Ed Kamm, Chief Customer Officer at First Utility said: “Rugby League is one of the most widely and passionately supported sports in the world, and it’s important that we show our support to the next generation of fans.“The UK is about to have another royal celebration, but we want to reward Super League fans and give the royal treatment to the next generation.”Throughout the 2015 season, First Utility, the UK’s leading independent energy supplier, will be rewarding Super League fans for their continued support. Visit www.first-utility.com for more information
Poor execution and a soft attitude cost them the chance of securing two points – and it is something they need to fix up ahead of the local clash according to the interim coach.“It doesn’t get any better watching it back,” Long said. “The only good thing we can do is learn from it. We didn’t take our opportunities when we should have done.“We also probably started a little soft, didn’t turn up with the right attitude and didn’t give Widnes enough respect as a group. On the flipside, I thought Widnes were outstanding. It was the best they had played for a long time.“But we have to learn from it and tidy up where we can get better.“We have had a tough Easter period. We played against Wigan with 12 men, took on league leading Castleford and then played a local derby. It takes it out of the boys. We had a few players out but I do believe the side we had out on Friday was more than capable of putting in a good performance and getting the win.“I know as a player it is hard to keep backing up and being 100 per cent all the time but there may have been a few out there who thought it may have been easier than they thought – and you can’t do that in Super League.”Long expects Ryan Morgan, Luke Douglas and Tommy Makinson to return this Friday with Adam Walker also having a good chance too after a stellar performance in the Reserves.He came off the bench to help Saints ease to a 34-26 victory over Warrington.James Roby and Jonny Lomax won’t face the Centurions but could come back the following week.Long continued: “No disrespect to Leigh but the focus this week is on ourselves. We have played them once, we know what they are all about and they have already beaten us once. This week the focus is purely on ourselves and getting our attack right.“The defence has been looking good all year but we need to tidy up stuff with our attack.“We have tried to implement stuff in video sessions which is hard as we have not been on the field over the Easter period. It will be good for us to get out on the field to put it into practice.“They have got a massive pack and good strike so we know we are going to get challenged. Hopefully we will throw the ball about a little bit more and turn up with a better attitude. Hopefully we can focus on us and get a victory in front of our own fans.“They were brilliant against Cas and to do it in front of them would be brilliant.“We can’t turn off. We have to stick with what we do and show the rest of the teams in this league we are mentally strong and can challenge for those big games.”Tickets for the game, which kicks off at 8pm, are on sale from the Ticket Office at the Totally Wicked Stadium, by calling 01744 455 052 or online here.
“It was a really tough game; we knew it was going to be hard coming to Wakefield.We wanted to start the game well and in the first 20 minutes I felt we were in control, but credit to Wakefield they kept fighting back.In the second half we defended really well with a number of back to back sets on our own line and that probably won us the game in the end.We kept working and came up with a good try at the end to win the game.I’m really happy to get a win today and start the season with two victories.”
Pender County Commissioners vote to adopt a resolution in support of a North Carolina satellite facility at Blake Farms (Photo: Sarah Johnson/WWAY) PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A new shellfish aquarium is one step closer to becoming a reality.Pender County Commissioners voted Monday night to adopt a resolution in support of a North Carolina satellite facility at Blake Farm.- Advertisement – The site plans for the development had previously been submitted to the Pender County Technical Review Committee.However, the development is already seeing scrutiny, with an ethics complaint coming from a New Hanover County attorney.The aquarium is projected to open 2 years from now.
BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Find your best diamonds and denim, the Brunswick Sheriff’s Charitable Foundation’s Charity Ball is back for its 7th year.Emily Flax with the Brunswick Sheriff’s Charitable Foundation said the event raises money for local charities and non-profits throughout the county. This year, the money will go to Brunswick County Habitat for Humanity, NC American Legion Post #543 and Samara’s Village, Inc.- Advertisement – The event features hors d’ oeuvres, dinner, drinks, music by the Black Water Rhythm & Blues Band, dancing and a silent and live auction.A ‘Diamonds and Denim’ theme allows guests to choose their event attire. “People love that, they can come in blue jeans and boots, cocktail attire, whatever,” Flax said.The ball is Friday, March 2 from 6-10 p.m. at the St. James Community Center in Southport.Related Article: Man wanted in Bolivia shooting in custodyTickets are $80.00 per person and will go on sale in early January. Sponsorship packages are available.For more information, visit www.sheriffscharity.com, call (910) 253-0922, follow the Brunswick Sheriff’s Charitable Foundation on Facebook or email email@example.com.
Multiple Brunswick County deputies, a detective, and Deans’ mother Shelia Deans took the stand Wednesday afternoon. A former Columbus County law enforcement officer who took crime scene photos also took the stand.Several photos of the area around John Coleman Road, where Deans was found, were passed around to the jury.The former officer on the stand described finding shoe strings prior to smelling, and then finding Deans’ body in the woods. Pictures of Deans’ body were then shown to the courtroom. One picture included a photo of her tattooed wrist, which is how Deans was identified.Related Article: Man armed at NC school indicted on federal chargesMichael Williams and Kayla Turner are also charged with murder, robbery and kidnapping in connection to Deans’ murder.Turner and Williams lived together at the time of the murder and lived two houses down from Tyler’s son, who is Deans’ ex, Turner testified.Earlier on the stand, a detective testified call logs showed Turner called Deans the morning before she was killed.Turner said she knew Deans from church. Turner claimed Tyler wanted to use Deans’ car and wanted to tie Deans up and leave her in an abandoned house until they were done with it.Turner told the court that Tyler made her call Deans and tell her that her ex, who is Tyler’s son, wanted her back and to come meet up with them.Turner testified that Tyler wanted the car to kidnap his ex and keep her from going to court against him, because she had information that could put Tyler away for life.Turner said Tyler staged a robbery to do just that but she did not know it would be taken so far. Turner testified that she and Deans met up and were discussing Turner’s possible pregnancy when Michael Williams, Turner’s boyfriend at the time, entered the kitchen with a gun and his face covered yelling for the women to get on the ground.Williams demanded money from Deans, she said she did not have any then after time gave in. After that Williams then told Turner to tie Deans up. After Deans was tied up Williams played along and tied Turner up. Then Tyler came in as planned, Williams ordered him to re-tie the women’s hand with shoe laces and then covered their heads with sheets. That is when they all got into Deans’ car, Deans was placed in the trunk.Once they were in Deans’ car, Williams cut the laces off Turner’s hands and they drove Williams home. Once William was dropped off Turner said she felt like they were driving in circles until they ended up in the woods. Turner testified she watched from the car as Tyler opened the trunk and walked Deans away from the car into the wooded area.Turner said she heard what sounded like gunshots shortly after.“I asked him where Alicia was,” Turner said. “He said she was gone.”When Turner said she did not believe him she said Tyler offered to show her the body. Turner said she refused then called Williams to tell him what happened and he did not believe the news either.It was an elaborate plan that Deans’ mother still does not understand.“I want the truth so I can have closure,” Sheila Deans said. “And know what exactly happened. That’s what I want. And then whoever is responsible I want them to pay because she never gets to see her children again. It’s affected our family in big ways. She was the youngest.”Williams, the third person charged in this case, pleaded guilty Monday and will also testify against Tyler.The trial will resume Thursday, it is expected to last at least a week. 00:00 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 COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The mother of a 26-year-old woman whose body was found in the woods weeks after her disappearance, left the courtroom as the prosecution began show pictures of the crime scene.It is the first day of trial for Nathan Tyler Jr., 45, one of the three people charged with the murder of Alicia Deans.- Advertisement –
Armed with signs and wearing matching shirts demanding justice for the puppy beaten to death, members of the Facebook group ‘”Justice for Axel” protested outside the New Hanover County Courthouse. Their goal was to make a difference.“This kind of behavior is abnormal and it needs to be stopped,” Witt said. “This man needs, we need to actually work on getting higher sentencing for people that are violent.”Christopher Simpson is charged with animal cruelty. His court case was continued something the group expected.Related Article: Animals get new home at ‘Clear the Shelter’ eventNow the case is going to the grand jury, a step they are happy about.“Dogs are like human beings. There’s an old saying, it’s man’s best friend,” protestor Edward Nielsen said.The group wants stricter laws against animal abusers and a registry created for those who abuse animals. But there is still one question they want answered.“Why? Why would you do something like that to someone who can’t defend themselves or what was the reason ya know?” Nielsen said.The group plans to continue their fight and be a voice for the animals.The group will also be seeking justice for a different, but similar animal abuse case next week. The date for the grand jury has not been set. NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — As the man accused of beating a dog to death on Christmas Day was expected to appear in court, a group of protesters stood outside with a message.“I think it’s past time to stand up and speak out against violence in any form and especially against this small little dog that was murdered. It’s an extreme act of violence,” protester Karan Witt said.- Advertisement –