A senior opposition MP is to write to the minister for disabled people to ask how she plans to penalise government contractors Atos and Capita, following last week’s “devastating” revelations about their “shocking” failings in delivering disability benefit assessments.Stephen Lloyd, the work and pensions spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said last week’s revelations by Disability News Service (DNS) were “utterly devastating” and raised “serious questions” over the performance of the two outsourcing giants.Last week, DNS ran three stories revealing fresh evidence of failings by Atos and Capita in how they deliver assessments for personal independence payment (PIP) across England, Wales and Scotland.The reports were based on data released to campaigner John Slater by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) under freedom of information laws, as well as analysis by Disabled People Against Cuts researcher Anita Bellows and DNS.The data included management information (MI) provided by Capita and Atos, showing how they had performed in meeting certain contractual requirements set by DWP while delivering PIP assessments during 2016.One story revealed how Atos and Capita had been failing to request the vital “further medical evidence” (FME) from GPs, consultants and social workers that would help disabled people secure the PIP they were entitled to.Another described how up to 180 PIP assessors – mostly from Atos – were the subject of at least four complaints each from PIP claimants in three-month periods in 2016.And the third story showed how nearly one in three PIP assessment reports completed by Capita between April and December 2016 were significantly flawed. Lloyd (pictured) highlighted the “shocking failure in not securing medical evidence from claimants’ GPs, which they’re supposed to do under the terms of their DWP contract”.He said: “The scale of failures on all these are frankly unbelievable, proof, were it needed, that my call to strip the assessment contracts from both Atos and Capita and bring the whole regime in-house as a public service needs to happen sooner rather than later, before even more damage is done to disabled people’s lives.“Why should tax-payers continue to enrich these two companies on the backs of disabled people?”He said the DNS reports showed that the service disabled people were receiving was “simply sub-standard if not actually downright illegal”.He added: “I will be writing to the disabilities minister, Sarah Newton, to ask how the DWP proposes to penalise both Atos and Capita in the light of these clear contractual breaches.”Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, Marsha de Cordova, said the issues raised in the three stories last week were “very consistent” with her own concerns.She said: “Poor contract management feeds poor practice, as the contracted assessors draw the lesson that poor performance will not too greatly trouble the client (the DWP).“This in turn leads to poor decisions, as assessments are generally rubber-stamped by DWP decision-makers and then, if challenged by the claimant, rubber-stamped again at ‘mandatory reconsideration’ stage.”Although decisions can be corrected at appeal tribunals, she said, many claimants will not appeal because they “do not realise there is a problem or they cannot face the struggle”.She said the DNS reports, together with this week’s damning report by the Commons work and pensions committee (see separate stories), criticisms made by the senior president of tribunals and “the stream of complaints from disabled people and disability organisations”, should mean the government finally “admits that the game is up and ‘business as usual’ (when the fuss dies down) is not an option”.She added: “We must make sure that the fuss doesn’t die down and insist on detailed plans for change – plans that centrally involve disabled people.”Slater has this week sent a link to the data to the work and pensions committee, as it was preparing to publish its report into the PIP and employment and support allowance (ESA) assessment systems.The committee has promised to continue to investigate flaws in the PIP and ESA systems.Meanwhile, neither Capita nor DWP has been willing to comment on figures which appear to show that Capita’s failings on FME became even more serious last year.The figures, released to the SNP’s Drew Hendry by Newton earlier this month, showed the number of individual requests for FME by Capita fell from about 94,000 in 2015, to 48,000 in 2016 and then dropped below 21,000 last year.Asked why FME requests had fallen so drastically between 2015 and 2017, a Capita spokeswoman said: “Each case is considered on an individual basis and we will request further evidence where it is necessary and appropriate, taking into account the information that has already been provided.”Asked if this showed that Capita had been cutting corners in fulfilling the PIP assessment contract, she said: “No. We are fully committed to delivering a high quality service for people applying for PIP.”Last week, Capita said: “Individuals are encouraged to provide further evidence to the Department for Work and Pensions when starting their PIP claim and this, along with our assessment report, is taken into consideration alongside all other evidence when the DWP, not Capita, makes the decision about the level and length of award.”But Bellows said: “Capita’s response does not make sense. How does that explain the huge drop in FME requests, from over 60 per cent to two per cent within a few months?“Did all claimants, in all regions, and in the same proportion decide at the same time to produce the medical evidence necessary for Capita to give an opinion and for DWP to decide on a PIP claim?“The likelihood of this happening is close to zero.”She said the downward trend was confirmed by the 2017 figures released by Newton to Drew Hendry.DWP declined to say why the Capita numbers had continued to fall and were so low last year; whether this showed Capita had been cutting corners; and whether it was concerned by the figures.But a DWP spokeswoman said in a statement: “As we explained last week, it is not always necessary to seek further medical evidence to assess an individual’s eligibility for PIP.“In the vast majority of cases, the evidence provided by the claimant on their PIP application form, the evidence claimants send in to support their claim and the evidence provided during their assessment is sufficient for DWP to make a decision.“As Paul Gray pointed out, primary onus of responsibility for providing functional evidence should lie with the claimant.“They are in the best position to supply what evidence is available.”But Gray, DWP’s own independent reviewer of PIP, also said that DWP and its providers “should also be proactive in gathering Further Evidence where they identify sources that are relevant and reliable”.And this week’s work and pensions committee’s report reveals that Maximus – which carries out ESA assessments – requests FME in up to 46 per cent of cases each year.DWP documents drawn up in May 2012, before the award of the PIP contracts, show the department expected its contractors would need to request FME in about half of all PIP cases.In DWP’s own PIP handbook, it says: “The face-to-face consultation will be conducted by a health professional who considers the evidence provided by the claimant, along with any further evidence they think is needed.”And in DWP’s PIP Assessment Guide, it makes clear that, in order for a report to be graded as “acceptable”, the assessor must ensure that “sufficient further evidence” has been “appropriately sought and referenced”.Slater said: “I’m delighted that the previous stories have generated so much interest and that people can now start to have discussions about what’s actually going on with PIP.“I hope the MI data will help organisations like the work and pensions committee to hold the DWP to account.”He added: “I’m very disappointed that the DWP hasn’t responded to me about what appears to be incomplete disclosure of the PIP MI data and I am pursuing the matter via the information commissioner.”
Tags: sports • warriors Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% Pre-Game: Pork Store (Restroom)The usual inspired graffiti: “I hate techies.” “I ate techies.” And then this:“Hipster Techie Go Home.” It’s crossed out with what might be lipstick and underneath is written“Shut up dipshit Poser fake local from Cleveland.” 0% Mmm. I grew up in Cleveland.Let the games begin.First Quarter: Pork StoreKind of quiet here at tip off, but before the first half of the first quarter, the bar is overflowing into the dining room.The Cavs announce their defensive strategy will be to give up 2 point shots to prevent 3 point shots.Not a bad strategy against the Dubs. A couple times, Dubs’ Center Zaza Pachulia was so shocked to be left wide open under the basket he couldn’t shoot.The problem for the Cavs is this: other than Pachulia, the Dubs really like easy 2s. They go dunk crazy and score 35 which is an excellent quarter.The Cavs keep it close with 30.The Dubs play defense with energy but seem out of sync.I’m laughing to myself about the bathroom graffiti and wonder if it matters that I’ve lived 40 years in the Mission (with time off for good behavior). Probably not.Second Quarter: GiordanosWhatever you think of Tech the Dubs are Tech’s Team. Before Tech took over the Bay Area, the Dubs were a bunch of misfit castoffs who provided off-beat entertainment for stoners coming to East Oakland to buy weed. Now look at them – awash in VC cash, plugged into every new data hose and advanced analytic in the Valley, a roster stocked with the same freakishly long arms, and they’re building a brand new Pleasure Dome in Mission Bay.No one would mistake Giordanos for a Pleasure Dome. Especially when it’s packed like it is tonight.As the second quarter unwinds, the Cavs begin to look like posers.Because the Dubs have turned up the heat on defense. They force eight Cav turnovers from steals, interceptions, blocks, and an offensive foul on LeBron James as he crashes into KD. Eight turnovers is a lot for one quarter.Tech can help improve your defense by breaking down individual and team habits of your opponents and serving up a variety of stats. In the end, good defense demands intense physical and mental effort; an effort most players either can’t or won’t put out. The Dubs can, and they do in the second quarter.But they only lead by eight at the half, 60-52, after misfiring on several layups.Turnovers at the end of the first half: Cavs 12, Dubs 1Halftime: Walking the DogTonight’s thought experiment comes courtesy of reddit.A girl in your class asks you to translate a paper for her. She’s bad and you’ve been after her for months. She wants you to come to her place at 5 and the paper should take two hours to complete. But the game starts at 6. What do you do? What, someone asks, would Klay do?Third Quarter: GestaltDuring the playoffs, most folks in Gestalt busied themselves playing pinball, or drinking with their backs to the big screen. Not tonight. The place is full and people are intent on the game. A couple guys next to me – Hector and Pat – argue who is the better, the more pure, point guard: Kyrie or Steph?Steph and KD lead a 10-0 charge coming out of half-time that puts the Cavs on their heels.All of them: Steph, Klay, Andre Iguodala – all heavily invested in tech. Iguodala, came here explicitly to become a tech VC when his playing days end. And though many say KD’s a ring chaser, he’s at a stage in his life, as he’s said, where he has to think about his post-basketball career. KD had a lot of reasons for coming here. Tech was undoubtedly one of the big ones.With two minutes left in the third quarter, KD is not thinking about his tech investments (hopefully). It’s still a game and LeBron has the ball at the top of the key, facing the basket. KD guards him tightly.LeBron bulls his way down the lane, but KD sticks with him like a seven-foot leech, forcing an errant shot. On that play, KD, stopping the unstoppable, exemplified the kind of defense his team played in the second and third quarters.KD’s sparkling defense results in another Curry 3 and the Cavs are all but buried.Fourth Quarter: Elixir and San PanchoThe fourth quarter is anti-climatic. I walk back and forth across Guerrero between the Elixir and San Pancho. Both are filled with happy looking fans.On a night like this, with the wind up and the fog rolling in, posers tend to disappear.After scoring 30 points in the first quarter, the Cavs score, 22, 20 and 19. Although Klay Thompson and Draymond Green had sub-par offensive games, they led the Dubs’ defensive charge.And Steph was Steph – hitting six 3s, setting up open shots for others and being an absolute pest on defense.But according to LeBron, the big difference between the Dubs this year and the team he faced last year in the Finals? “KD.”True. KD scored 38 points and played defense like a demon – relentless, vicious, and ruthless – qualities highly prized in a certain valley south of Golden State.MoreDubs pack the bars, take the trophyFans Celebrate with bonfire in the streetCavs throw Dubs to the dogsDubs smash and grab Game 3Cavs rock, Dubs roll in game twoDub’s defense steals game one.NBA finals: a guide for the perplexed.Where to watch the gamesThe Mission awaits the finals. read more
KEIRON Cunningham was pleased with the response from his charges despite Saints’ 28-22 loss to Huddersfield Giants last night.“It is a results based industry and we want results and points but I thought the response was pretty good from last week,” he said. “The effort across the board was really good and if anything there was a little too much effort as we tried to force things. We got too anxious when defending and gave away penalties when under pressure.“They are a great side and it was a typical game between the two sides, down to the death, and both sides had chances to win it. They took theirs a little better.“I thought we got into some form of rhythm at times; Jordan Turner looked good in the middle and Mark Percival and big Al played well once again. In fact, you could do through the side and pick out good performances.“We played anxious which is understandable at an important time of the season after having a few losses but I am happy with the response. We can have a good week off, come back and play against Leeds.“We have a lot of people who have played a lot of rugby but I can’t spell them as the squad isn’t as thick. We have to stay to focused and work hard as a group and if we do that we will come through it.“The season isn’t over by a long way. We have to make the top four and we will have a good crack at that.” read more
DAY 12 – Today was all about preparation for game three with Parramatta, writes Neil Kilshaw.The day started with a positional specifics training session. The forwards working with Derek Traynor, the kickers with Tommy Martyn, the hookers with Ian Talbot and the outside backs with Neil Kilshaw. The session was short and sharp working on some areas to make swift improvements from the opening two fixtures.After training it was off to the city where the players had some free time with their families that are over here.The staff continued onto Cronulla to meet up with some old friends of the club. Grand final winning coach Nathan Brown was our host for a few hours and Eric Chisnall met up with former teammates Cliff Watson and David Eckersley.The squad then spent the evening at Cabramatta leagues club for our final training session ahead of our game, having the opportunity to familiarise ourselves with the venue and playing surface.Everyone is rested and excited ahead of our next challenge and a first for the Academy tours in playing the famous Parramatta club. read more
ALEX Walmsley is hoping his appearance in the friendly at Swinton on Sunday will be the final step in his return to fitness.The forward has had surgery in the off-season – but thanks to the medical team at the club is gunning for next week’s Huddersfield clash.“At the moment I am looking ready for the start of the year,” he said. “The major test will be if I come through the game at Swinton on Sunday.“It was touch and go for the start of the season but the staff here have been great with me and got me going. If I come through this weekend then I will be good to go on Friday.”Saints have strengthened in the off-season and Alex believes that will stand the club in good stead as we progress through 2016.“I think the coaching staff have done great with the signings,” he continued. “They have strengthened where we were weak last year and brought players in to give us that strength. We are certainly a better team; the likes of Luke Thompson, Greg Richards and Mark Percival aren’t kids any more. They are better players for experience.“It’s all very well having the best 17 man squad in the competition, but you need more. Once injuries and suspensions kick in you need to have confidence in the players coming in – I firmly believe we have the players that can do this.“It will be a long season and the boys that will come in are more than up to the task.” read more
Tommy Martyn, Sean Long and Neil Holding are hosting a special evening at the Totally Wicked Stadium all in aid of the Steve Prescott Foundation Kilimanjaro Challenge.On Saturday June 24, from 8pm, you can hear three of the greatest halves in the club’s history tell their tales all for a great cause.Price is £20 a ticket and you can snap up yours from the Ticket Office at the Totally Wicked Stadium or online here.Food is included.
OctoberAlex Walmsley was named Top Metre Maker at the Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel Awards with Luke Gale taking the overall award.Danny Richardson marked a stellar debut season too with a new contract.The Academy went on their bi-annual Tour of Australia and came back with three wins from their four games – continuing the strong heritage of touring Saints sides since 2004.Ricky Bailey and Jonah Cunningham both moved to Leigh Centurions on loan for the 2018 season and joined four others in extending their contracts at the club. Jake Spedding, Liam Cooper, Ben Morris and Aaron Smith all put pen to paper on new deals.But in-between the excitement of the World Cup and Tour, the sad news about the loss of Tom van Vollenhoven shook the town, club and rugby league world.There were beautiful tributes from all over the world and the club hosted a celebration of Tom’s life at the Parish Church in St Helens Town Centre.11 Saints travelled to the World Cup – Jonny Lomax, James Roby, Alex Walmsley and Mark Percival were part of the England side that reached the final, whilst Regan Grace, Morgan Knowles and Ben Morris (Wales), Luke Douglas (Scotland), Theo France (France) and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Kyle Amor (Ireland) bowed out at the group stage.NovemberSaints learnt their fixtures for the 2018 campaign at the beginning of the month – and they will host Castleford on February 2 in the opener.Justin Holbrook began his first pre-season with the Saints and signed up Dom Peyroux for another season.Squad numbers for 2018 were also announced with Ben Barba being given the iconic number 23 shirt – Matty Costello joining the first team squad.Both home and away kits for the new campaign were released and Saints welcomed Cash Converters on board as a new sponsor.A chunk of the squad returned to training on November 6 with Holbrook and the coaching staff putting them through their paces right from the off. Ben Barba also returned whilst Kyle Amor and several other international players came back early too.Saints and Thatto Heath Crusaders ARLFC joined forces to enter a team in the 2018 Women’s Super League.DecemberSaints and Proud hit the town in earnest as the first team squad visited 63 schools as well as making appearances at our local community clubs, the Saints Superstore and the Christmas Lights Switch on.The boys continued to train hard as well with all players back and good to go in the final week before Christmas.And, as a thank you to the fans, Justin Holbrook threw open training for all to watch before the players signed off for Christmas!Here’s to 2018!We’re Saints and Proud … are you? Memberships for the new campaign are now on sale. To find out more click here. read more
The Community Coach, who plays for Swinton Lions, will lead the side in their next fixture against Czech Republic in Osnabrück on August 25.Brad said: “I am proud to have been given the opportunity to captain Germany in the upcoming game. It is a real honour for myself and my family.“With only playing one game for Germany, I look forward to leading out this group of players against what is sure to be a tough Czech Republic side!”Everybody at SCDF is tremendously proud of Brad and his selection and wish him all the best in his upcoming game.
The 29-year-old back rower has appeared 72 times for the club since making his debut against Huddersfield in 2016.“It’s great for us to keep Dom,” Saints Head Coach Justin Holbrook said. “When he was out of the side everyone realised just how valuable a player he was to the team. He gets through a lot of work that people don’t see.“He is an aggressive player with lots of energy who gives us real strike on the edges.“He has worked really hard in pre-season and throughout the year to become a player we all love having on the field.“I’m really happy he has decided to stay with us as he has been consistently very good for us every week.”Dom, who has scored 10 tries in the Red Vee, said: “I’m blessed to re-sign with the club. It has been a very exciting year so far but we know there is still work to do.“I have had a frustrating last few weeks through injury but I am really pleased to be back out on the field with the brothers.“Thanks to the fans for all the support.” read more
“The Good Doctor”: Premieres Monday at 10 p.m.“Marvel’s ‘Inhumans’”: Premieres Friday, Sept. 29 at 8 p.m.“Ten Days in the Valley”: Premieres Sunday, Oct. 1 at 10 p.m.Related Article: Grammy-nominated rapper 21 Savage in US immigration custody“The Mayor”: Premieres Wednesday, Oct. 3 at 9:30 p.m.“Kevin (Probably) Saves the World”: Premieres Wednesday, Oct. 3 at 10 p.m.The StarNews’ Hunter Ingram, known as TV Hunter, sat down with Randy Aldridge for a sneak preview. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — As fall winds down, it’s time for the new TV season to start. This fall ABC has a little something for everyone.ABC is adding five new shows to the lineup:- Advertisement –