The government has rejected three key recommendations by a cross-party committee of MPs that were aimed at improving the safety and transparency of its benefits sanctions regime.In its response to a report published earlier this year by the work and pensions select committee, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) this week rejected a call for a full, independent review of the sanctions regime and the conditions placed upon benefit claimants.DWP also rejected a call for ministers to state how many secret “peer reviews” had been carried out into the deaths of benefit claimants who were subject to a sanction at the time they died, and to say what measures were taken by ministers as a result of those findings.The existence of the internal DWP reviews was only exposed by Disability News Service last autumn, and ministers have refused so far to publish their content, summaries, conclusions or recommendations, even with personal details redacted.The government rejected a third key recommendation of the committee, to set up a body modelled on the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) that would carry out a review – if requested by relatives – into all deaths of working-age claimants of out-of-work benefit claimants.DWP said it had already made improvements to the system of sanctions – where benefit payments are stopped for a period if a claimant has not met a particular condition – following recommendations made last year in a review of jobseeker’s allowance sanctions by the former Treasury advisor Matthew Oakley, and that it now wanted to “focus on embedding those changes and improvements”.It added: “As with all our policies, we are keeping the operation of the sanctions system under constant review to ensure that it continues to function effectively and fairly and that, where we identify an issue, we act to put it right.”DWP said it was unable to say how many reviews there had been where the claimant was subject to a benefit sanction at the time they died, because of “the high risk that the disclosure of that information may lead to identification of one or more of the individuals concerned, and thus breach the department’s obligations of confidentiality”.It also argued in its response to the committee’s report that a new IPCC-type body was not needed because of existing routes open for relatives to seek reviews, through their MPs, the court system, benefit tribunals, complaints to DWP, and through the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.The department also said that it would be “simply unworkable and disproportionate” to investigate “what might amount to every death of a working age benefit claimant”.Iain Duncan Smith (pictured), the work and pensions secretary, did accept some of the committee’s recommendations, including an agreement to trial a system in which benefit claimants would be warned that they were facing a possible sanction, and given 14 days to produce evidence showing why they should not be punished.DWP has also issued “comprehensive guidance” to staff on how restrictions on availability and the type and hours of work that people on jobseeker’s allowance can do “can be varied to take account of the claimant’s physical or mental health conditions and caring responsibilities”.And it has developed new guidance for Work Programme providers on sanctioning disabled claimants of ESA.Duncan Smith said he would also “consider” extending the definition of groups seen as being “at risk” to include people with mental health conditions and those who are homeless – it already includes all ESA claimants – which allows them to seek access to hardship payments the moment a sanction is applied.But the Employment Related Services Association (ERSA), which represents Work Programme providers, was critical of the government’s changes.Kirsty McHugh, ERSA’s chief executive, said: “We welcome the recognition by the secretary of state that the sanctions system is in need of reform, but are concerned that the changes today don’t go far enough. “For some jobseekers, receiving a sanction can act as a ‘wake up’ call. However, for the majority, the sanction system is more likely to hinder the journey to employment. “Jobseekers move into work quickest when they feel positive about work and thus sanctions should only be used as a last resort.”
Some parents are being asked to educate their disabled children at home because their schools claim they cannot meet their needs, the education watchdog’s annual report has warned.Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, said in her report that the proportion of disabled children needing support who had been excluded from their schools was “typically high”.She said that some disabled children and young people who need support were having “a very poor experience of the education system”.She said that some parents “have been pressured to keep their children at home because leaders say they can’t meet their needs. This is unacceptable.”Her report also says that there are now about 1,000 state-funded special schools, three-quarters of which are maintained by local authorities, while a quarter are academies.And it says that the proportion of pupils with a statement of special educational needs or a new education, health and care plan attending a state-funded special school, rather than mainstream provision, has risen from 40 per cent in 2010 – when the new coalition government pledged to “remove the bias towards inclusion” – to 45 per cent of pupils.Tara Flood, director of The Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE), said: “The government is in complete denial that there is a crisis in the support that disabled children and young people should be receiving.“The alarm bells are ringing everywhere apart from in the Department for Education.”She said ALLFIE had heard from parents who had been told to educate their disabled children at home.She said: “It highlights what ALLFIE has been raising the alarm about for a long time now, that disabled children and young people are being forced out of mainstream education by a tightening of the [Ofsted] inspection regime and a narrowing down of what is considered to be educational success.”She said that the increasing Ofsted focus on academic attainment and discipline “gives a reason for schools to remove children considered to have challenging behaviour”.As a result, there had been a rise in the number of disabled children being viewed by schools as having challenging behaviour, with that being used as a reason to exclude them and avoid “putting [the school’s] academic results into jeopardy”.She said: “We have noticed in the last two years the real increase in parents being told that their [disabled] children are no longer welcome in school and in college.”She said there was also an increasing “disconnection” between schools and local education authority support services for disabled children, because of the education reforms brought in by the government.Flood said: “The real worry for us is not only the government’s denial that there is a crisis in education for disabled children and young people but that their response to that is to build more segregated provision rather than taking a human rights approach and building the capacity for inclusion.”And she said there was also anecdotal evidence of children being excluded from school while on the waiting-list for support from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).This has led to children being denied any kind of education “for months and months” while waiting for an assessment.She said the report in August by the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities on the UK’s progress in implementing the UN disability convention “set out clear recommendations for the UK government in terms of what it needs to do to make fundamental changes to the education system”.The report was highly critical of the UK government’s approach to inclusive education, and the “persistence of a dual education system” that segregates increasing numbers of disabled children in special schools.It called instead for a “coherent strategy” on “increasing and improving inclusive education”, which would include raising awareness of – and support for – inclusive education among parents of disabled children.Picture: Representatives of UK disabled people’s organisations at the UN in Geneva in August
THERE are just SIX days to go until the start of the Super League season!The Saints will be beginning the march for their SIXTH Super League title when they kick off their league campaign on Saturday February 2 (4.45pm).Huddersfield Giants lie in wait for Nathan Brown’s side and hopes are high following a good showing in pre-season.Saints have scored 13 tries and conceded just two in their two games to date and combinations all over the field are starting to gel.Tickets for Saturday’s match are now on sale from the Ticket Office at Langtree Park, by calling 01744 455 052 or by logging on here.New signing Jordan Turner said: “I have settled in well here and I am looking forward to the new season. I have made some great friends already and Saints play an attacking brand football I’ve loved watching since I was a kid.“The attitude around the club is good; it’s almost like there is a different aura when you come into training. I think we can only go upwards from there.“Centre is my positon but if Browny (Nathan Brown) wanted me to play elsewhere I would give it my all, but centre for now at this time in my career is right for me.”
CLADDING work is now taking place in the Totally Wicked North Stand.On track to be completed by the time Australia faces Fiji in the World Cup at Langtree Park on November 2, the project is continuing at pace.A high percentage of the works in the Hattons Solicitors West Stand and East Stand have also been completed too.In his programme notes at the Warrington game club Chairman Eamonn McManus wrote: “The cladding continues to go up on schedule and is due for completion in early October.“It will be complete in all respects for our hosting of the Australia v Fiji fixture in the World Cup. We can then proudly showcase our improved new stadium to the international game and an international audience.“I hope that the entire town of St.Helens gets to this game show the game that we are a true rugby league town and are truly proud of the best stadium in the sport.”
THE fantastic success of Rugby League World Cup 2013 was put into sharp perspective today with the publication of the official Tournament Review.The Review was launched at an event at MediaCityUK in Salford and details the sporting, social, economic and cultural impact made both during and since the 14-nation tournament was staged in the autumn of 2013.Speaking at the launch, RLWC2013 Tournament Director Nigel Wood said the tournament had provided a platform that will allow the whole sport to grow, both in the UK and across the globe over the next decade and beyond.“We believe that the success factors identified before the opening game of Rugby League World Cup 2013 were comprehensively delivered against,” said Wood.“From the opening games beneath the closed roof of Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium to the final at the Theatre of Dreams, Old Trafford, RLWC2013 fired the imagination of fans and the wider public like no Rugby League tournament before it.“As a sporting spectacle, it was truly wonderful; I’m also delighted that the impact of RLWC2013 stretched beyond the field of play thanks to hugely successful arts, dance and education programmes which touched the lives of thousands of young people.“The success of RLWC2013 was made possible by the passion, the vision and the commitment of a great many people, including hundreds of volunteers, the dedicated staff who worked tirelessly throughout the tournament and those involved in the host towns and cities.“Above all the tournament came alive thanks to the supporters from the UK and around the world who ensured that this great celebration of international Rugby League was enjoyed by all who came into contact with it.”Wood also revealed that the bumper crowds and commercial success of RLWC2013 had allowed the tournament to deliver a record financial return in excess of £3.7 million to the Rugby League International Federation.The tournament featured 28 games at 21 venues over a five-week period between October 26 and November 30 and was watched live by over 450,000 spectators. It was also watched by an audience of 18.8 million television viewers in the key territories of UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.The direct economic impact of the tournament for the hosts England and Wales was £9.6m. However, the host towns and cities also benefited significantly, particularly the hosts of the showpiece occasions of the tournament.The direct economic benefit to Cardiff of hosting the Opening Ceremony was £8.5m; the semi-final double header at Wembley generated a direct economic impact of £12.3m for London; and as a result of staging the final, Manchester experienced a direct economic benefit of £8.4m.The tournament reached new areas and attracted new fans to the sport with 14 per cent of tickets purchased by people gaining their first experience of Rugby League whilst 38 per cent of ticket sales were to people residing outside the North of England.Rugby League’s reputation as a family friendly sport is reflected in the attendance statistics which show that 73 per cent of people watched matches as a family. One third (32 per cent) of the attendees were women and 35 per cent attended with children whilst two thirds (65 per cent) belonged to socio-economic groups ABC1.The inspirational nature of RLWC2013 is also highlighted in the feedback from fans following the tournament, more than 12,500 of whom indicated they have been inspired to begin playing Rugby League, or play more than previously.Over 30,000 people said that they had been inspired to become involved in Rugby League in some capacity and almost 14,000 people who had no previous engagement with the sport now intend to become involved.The event experience provided for fans at the matches was highly rated, with 91 per cent of spectators rating their RLWC2013 experience as 8+ or more out of 10 and 73 per cent of fans stating it was better than any other sporting event they had attended in the past.RLWC2013 General Manager Sally Bolton said: “After the excitement and euphoria of the tournament and what we felt we had achieved in terms of fan engagement and reach, it is very satisfying to have that reflected in the research findings.“The staging of the tournament was always focused on generating increased interest in and engagement with the sport and these findings show the opportunity that the sport now has to grow.”Rugby League World Cup 2013 Tournament Review at a glance:28 matches played at 21 venues with a total attendance of 458,463834 hours of television coverage in four key markets of UK, Ireland, Australia and New ZealandUK TV audience of 13.3m, with a peak of 2.8m for the England v New Zealand semi finalTournament broadcast into 114 territories with a worldwide audience reach of 134m viewersDirect economic impact for the hosts England and Wales was £9.6mDirect economic impact to Cardiff (Opening Ceremony at Millennium Stadium) of £8.4m; to London (Big Hit Semi-final at Wembley) of £12.3m; and to Manchester (Final at Old Trafford) of £8.5mFinancial return to the Rugby League International Federation in excess of £3.7mAverage 76 per cent spectator occupancy at matches14 per cent of ticket purchasers attended their first Rugby League match during the tournament38 per cent of tickets were purchased by people living outside the North of England92 per cent of ticket purchasers attended as a group; 73 per cent watched live with their family32 per cent of fans were female35 per cent of ticket purchasers attended with children65 per cent of ticket purchasers were from the ABC1 socio-economic range96 per cent of attendees agreed that the tournament had enhanced the perception of host towns and cities were they had attended a match91 per cent of fans said they were excited to be part of the event91 per cent of fans gave the tournament an ‘event experience’ rating of eight or more out of 1073 per cent of spectators felt RLWC2013 was better than any over live sports event they had attended beforeOver 12,000 ticket purchasers were inspired to play Rugby League for first time or play more oftenMore than 30,000 people intend to become involved or more involved Rugby League in some way, of which 13,800 people who had no previous engagement with the sport have been inspired to become involved for the first timeRLWC2013 utilised over 650 volunteers in England and Wales. 52 per cent of those had not volunteered previously and 72 per cent rated their experience as 8 or more out of 1083 per cent of spectators said the tournament gave them pride in their country whilst 77 per cent of spectators said the tournament helped to enhance community spirit
Strength and Conditioning Coach Matt Daniels served up a frosty breakfast before the team went to NG-UP Fitness in Liverpool for a high energy session.Memberships for the 2017 season are on sale from the Saints – with all prices frozen for the forthcoming campaign.Click here to find out more – and you could win a trip to the 2017 State of Origin too.
The challenge with a difference sees the Radio Merseyside breakfast team of Tony Snell and Steve Coleman ride to venues across the North West in the build up to this Friday’s Children in Need.When they arrive, they busk alongside the community and the Sing Me Merseyside Choir.They joined Boots in reception at the Totally Wicked Stadium to bang out some classic tunes before heading off to The Dream.To donate to the cause text BUSK to 70405 to donate £5.You can follow the ride itself at @bbcmerseyside
It is a joint investment part-funded by Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport and the Big Lottery Fund.Saints welcomed YouthFed to launch their 4REAL programme at the match against Widnes Vikings at the beginning of July with support from the young people who will benefit from it.It aims to provide activities to develop skills, improve their wellbeing and promote engagement with their communities.Sharon Vaughan, Project Coordinator for the 4REAL programme said: “YouthFed are delighted to be partnering with Saints and are looking forward to hearing about the impact the programme has on the young people.”Commenting on the partnership, Saints’ Coaching and Education Manager, Craig Richards, added: “We look forward to working in partnership with YouthFed to support our young people aged 11 to 15 in the town.“We will be working with them to develop crucial life skills through sport, such as leadership, team work and emotional intelligence.”For more information on the 4REAL project please visit www.youthfed.org.uk. To be a part of any future 4REAL programmes contact firstname.lastname@example.org
BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) – The Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a shooting that occurred Friday night in the area of Carlon Rd. NW and George Daniels Rd. NW in Longwood. The BCSO says the shooting happened around 6:30 in the evening.The victim was 30-year-old Anthony Scott Beers. He was transported to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center where he succumbed to his injury earlier Sunday morning.- Advertisement – This is an ongoing homicide investigation. The Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office is offering a $1000 reward for any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person/persons responsible for the shooting of Anthony Scott Beers.Anyone with any information should contact the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office at 910-253-2777 or call 911.Detectives believe this to be an isolated incident and there is no danger to the public.Related Article: Brunswick deputies honor veteran who died alone———————————————–BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A man was taken to the hospital after being shot in Longwood Friday evening, according to the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office.They say it happened in the area of Carlon Road NW and George Daniels Road NW in Longwood at approximately 6:30 p.m.The 30-year-old male victim was transported to Grand Strand Regional Medical Center in Myrtle Beach.Detectives believe this was an isolated incident and there is no danger to the public.
Devontae Mitchell (Photo: New Hanover Co. Sheriff’s Office) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Two teens face murder charges and another is dead following a shooting Tuesday night in Wilmington.Police arrested Devontae Mitchell, 18, and a 15-year-old late Wednesday night for the murder of Tomar Bloodworth, 19.- Advertisement – Bloodworth was shot in the 2800 block of Chestnut Street around 8:50 p.m. Tuesday.Police say the investigation is ongoing.If you have any information, contact WPD at (910) 343-3600 or use Text-A-Tip.