Month: July 2019
The government has been heavily-criticised by the public spending watchdog for failing to investigate how its own sanctions regime affects disabled people and other claimants of out-of-work benefits.The National Audit Office (NAO) report says the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has failed to track the costs and benefits of sanctions, including financial hardship, the impact on claimants’ mental health, and higher public spending in other areas, such as council-funded support.And it calls on DWP to conduct a “wide-ranging review” of its regime, which has led to 400,000 sanctions being applied in 2015 across four benefits: jobseeker’s allowance (JSA), employment and support allowance (ESA), universal credit and income support.DWP has previously rejected calls for a wider review, and NAO says it has also “resisted working with academic researchers and third-party organisations to explore the effect of sanctions”.DWP has even told Work Programme providers not to cooperate with government-funded research looking at the role and impact of sanctions.Only last month, the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities – in a report concluding that there had been “grave or systematic violations” of the UN’s disability convention by the UK government – pointed to a significant and “disproportionate” increase in benefit sanctions handed to ESA claimants between 2012 and 2014.The committee concluded that sanctioned claimants had faced “financial hardship, including through becoming indebted, relying on the support of relatives or on food banks or having reduced essential services”.Disabled activists have repeatedly highlighted the deaths of disabled benefit claimants they believe were linked to the government’s sanctions regime, including those of David Clapson (pictured) and Alan McArdle.DWP admitted last year that 10 of 49 benefit claimants whose deaths were subject to secret reviews by the department had had their payments sanctioned at some stage.The latest DWP figures showed a sharp rise in the number of sanctions imposed on ESA claimants, with 1,199 decisions taken to impose a sanction on an ESA claimant in May 2016, rising to 1,749 in June, compared to 900 in January.NAO says that DWP has not used sanctions consistently, that referral rates have varied “substantially” across jobcentres and providers of employment support, and that sanction numbers have “risen and fallen over time in ways that cannot be explained by changes in claimant compliance”.It also says that the use of sanctions was “not rare”, with nearly one in four JSA claimants between 2010 and 2015 being sanctioned at least once.And preliminary research carried out by NAO suggests that the use of sanctions on sick and disabled people who claim ESA actually led to a fall in the time they spent in work.NAO says that international studies show claimants who receive sanctions are more likely to secure work, but this effect can be short-lived, because people “move into work more quickly, by accepting less well-paid and sustainable work than they otherwise would have done”.Studies also suggest that sanctions encourage some claimants to become “inactive”, by stopping their claim without finding work.The watchdog has estimated that the government failed to pay £132 million in benefits in 2015 as a result of sanctions, and paid out £35 million in hardship payments to these claimants, while the cost of administering the sanctions system in 2015 was between £30 million and £50 million.Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), said: “As DPAC has always said, sanctions do not help disabled people find and keep work and it is good to have this confirmed by the NAO.“How can anyone, even the dimmest of people, seriously think that someone with no money for essentials such as food, heating and sanitary products is likely to be able to pay to travel to interviews, buy clothes for interviews or have any energy to even apply for any jobs? It’s simply a ludicrous idea.”John McArdle, co-founder of Black Triangle, welcomed the NAO report and said it showed the “arbitrary” nature of the government’s sanctions regime and “confirms what we have been saying all along”.He said the sanctions regime breaches both article two (the right to life) and article six (the right to a fair trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights.McArdle said: “There is no safety protocol in place. Disabled people on ESA are being sanctioned and they are basically leaving people destitute.“It can put people in life-threatening situations. It can cause disabled people catastrophic harm in a way that it wouldn’t do to people who are not so disabled.”But McArdle said there was “not a hope in hell” that the government would agree to the NAO recommendation to carry out a wide-ranging review.He said: “The only thing that will bring this government to heel is proceedings in the criminal court.”The Liberal Democrats called on the government to look again at its “discredited” sanctions regime.The party’s leader, Tim Farron, said the report was the “Civil Service equivalent of a character assassination”.He said: “It shows that a failing department is trying to prop up a discredited system. “The DWP have turned this system [into] a postcode lottery and means that someone could be sanctioned in one place and not in another for the same thing.“What is worse is that the government are not assessing the impact of sanctions, using their own data to see what is going on and they are not even tracking the benefits.”The Liberal Democrats voted to scrap all benefit sanctions at their party conference in September.Meg Hillier, the Labour MP who chairs the Commons public accounts committee, said: “Benefit sanctions punish some of the poorest people in the country.“But despite the anxiety and misery they cause, it seems to be pot luck who gets sanctioned.“While studies suggest sanctions do encourage some people back into work, other people stop claiming but do not start working and the Department for Work and Pensions has no record of them.“If vulnerable people fall through the safety net, what happens to them?”A DWP spokeswoman said: “Sanctions are an important part of our benefits system and it is right that there is a system in place for tackling those few who do not fulfil their commitment to find work.“This report fails to recognise the improvements we have made to sanctions, particularly to help those who are vulnerable.“The number of sanctions has fallen, and they are only ever used as a last resort after people fail to do what is asked of them in return for benefits.“We will consider the recommendations, and respond fully in due course.”
Speaking in the Brexit debate on Monday, Lisa Nandy told the Commons that she had seen a “hardening” of attitudes towards Brexit – both among her constituents and MPs.“Constituents of mine who told me three years ago that they’d voted Leave, and they were happy to leave on whatever terms parliament deemed necessary as long as we respected the result, are now telling me daily they want to cut all ties and leave with no deal at all.“Constituents who voted to Remain, who said that we’d had the debate and the other side had won fair and square and we just had to get on with it, are now telling me they want to halt this process altogether and remain in the EU.“And I have to say that having spent a lot of time with colleagues trying to find a way through this, in here and behind the scenes, I feel exactly the same thing is happening in parliament as well.“And if we don’t start to move, they won’t start to move, and there is absolutely no prospect of repairing this country.”Unlike Gareth Snell, another ‘inbetweener’ Labour MP who campaigned to Remain but represents a Leave seat, Nandy welcomed the amendment by Oliver Letwin for ‘indicative votes’ – which passed by a majority of 27 on Monday night.Although Nandy had indicated at various times over the last few months that she would consider voting for Theresa May’s deal, she often noted that the Prime Minister had not made contact, instead preferring to pander to hard Brexiteers in the Conservative Party.The Labour MP for Wigan was also disappointed with the attempt at “bribery” in the form of a ‘Stronger Towns’ fund, and most recently by the Prime Minister’s statement last week in which she tried to “pit parliament against the people”.Towards the end of her speech, Nandy spoke passionately about the prospect of ‘no deal’ in response to minister Chris Heaton-Harris who was apparently rolling his eyes and heckling.Tags:Lisa Nandy /Brexit /Brexit debate /no deal /
ICONIC aftershave and deodorant brand, BRUT, are marking their second season as an Official Partner of Super League by donating £5,000 to one of the 14 First Utility Super League club community foundations, as part of their BRUT Fan of Pride campaign which launches in April.Each Super League club is supporting BRUT Fan of Pride through a player ambassador – including St Helens legend Paul Wellens – and the overall winner will win an invitation to the end of season Man of Steel Awards, their team’s signed shirt, match tickets and some fantastic BRUT product.In their first season of Super League partnership in 2013, BRUT launched Fan of Pride, which celebrated those Super League fans that ‘Man Up’ for their team and sport. The inaugural winner was Warrington Wolves fan, and serving solider, Alan Boyle, and this year fans will be invited to nominate the club’s most loyal supporters to follow in his footsteps.In addition to Fan of Pride, the new season will see BRUT team up with Super League TV to bring fans the BRUT Try of the Month, available across its YouTube, Facebook and Twitter platforms.BRUT’s commitment to a try-laden 2014 also extends to the title sponsorship of the Man of Steel BRUT Top Try Scorer, won last year by Wigan Warriors’ Josh Charnley.Fans will also be able to win Super League tickets on a regular basis via the @BRUTforMen Twitter handle, and will also have the chance to ‘Man Up’ at the BRUT Fan Zone during the competition’s ‘Magic Weekend’ in May.
SAINTS got their Super League season off to the flying start with a 30-16 win over Huddersfield Giants.Luke Walsh drove the show with a hand in all five tries – Mark Percival profiting twice from the scrum half deft play.He was backed by Jordan Turner, the strong running Atelea Vea and the go forward of Kyle Amor in appalling conditions.Keiron Cunningham’s charges mastering the rainy weather ahead of their opponents.After a tame opening Saints won back to back penalties and profited through a lovely piece of play from Jon Wilkin.A link move from Walsh and Turner won the home side the momentum and then the captain slotted an inch perfect kick through for Percival to touch down.Huddersfield threatened to hit back on 10 minutes – but Wilkin intercepted – and then had another two sets on Saints’ line.Adam Swift was then unlucky not to catch a stray pass and from the scrum Aaron Murphy levelled up matters.The Giants threatened more points as the half progressed – Saints defending like their lives depended on it.Wilkin threatened with another chip over the top but once Makinson failed to deal with a lengthy kick from Brough, Cunningham’s men were under pressure once more.And desperate to put points on the board Huddersfield dropped the ball.Saints made them regret that decision. A high tackle in midfield saw them gain possession and following strong runs from Dominique Peyroux, Amor and Turner, Walsh slipped a wonderful kick through to Vea.The second rower’s pick up matching the wonderful skill of his scrum half.Walsh was having an excellent game and another chip over to the corner – and the pressure from Makinson – saw the Giants spill the ball.Saints returned the favour though and moments later the visitors were back down Saints’ end looking for points.Ball handling was proving to be an issue but not for Walsh.He drove Saints into excellent field position once again and following a strong run from Savelio, Percival crossed over thanks to Jack Owens’ pass.Saints defended back to back penalties on their own line and went in 16-4 to the good.The second half began like the first – strong kicks, driving down the middle and playing for field position.Walsh almost unlocked the door on 46 minutes with another superb kick – Saints gaining a drop out.And from there they scored – Jordan Turner crossing on an angle and showing his strength.Walsh then kicked the extras and Saints looked home and dry.But a three penalties in a short spell handed the impetus back to the Giants; a slide rule kick giving Ukuma Ta’ai a simple put down.Saints weathered the storm and then restored their advantage.A simple Walsh kick was knocked back by Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and scooped up by Luke Thompson.With 10 minutes to go the Giants received a huge slice of luck and it opened up the game as a result.They were adjudged to have kicked a 40:20 when it was clear the ball left the boot well after the ’40’ and then Jake Connor put down a kick right under the sticks.The West Stand suggesting he didn’t ground it.But Walsh kicked a penalty with three minutes to go to settle the nerves and claim the points.Match Summary:Saints:Tries: Percival (2), Vea, Turner, ThompsonGoals: Walsh (5 from 6)Giants:Tries: Murphy, Ta’ai, ConnorGoals: Brough (2 from 3)Penalties:Saints: 8Giants: 9HT: 16-4FT: 30-16REF: R HicksATT: 10,408Teams:Saints: 22. Jack Owens; 2. Tommy Makinson, 18. Dominique Peyroux, 4. Mark Percival, 5. Adam Swift; 3. Jordan Turner, 7. Luke Walsh; 10. Kyle Amor, 9. James Roby, 14. Lama Tasi, 12. Jon Wilkin, 11. Atelea Vea, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook.Subs: 8. Alex Walmsley, 15. Greg Richards, 16. Andre Savelio, 17. Luke Thompson.Giants: 1. Scott Grix; 2. Jermaine McGillvary, 3. Leroy Cudjoe, 18. Jake Connor, 5. Aaron Murphy; 6. Danny Brough, 7. Jamie Ellis; 16. Sam Rapira, 9. Ryan Hinchcliffe, 8. Eorl Crabtree, 17. Ukuma Ta’ai, 12. Michael Lawrence, 13. Larne Patrick.Subs: 14. Daniel Smith, 19. Josh Johnson, 20. Kruise Leeming, 22. Oliver Roberts.
<span data-mce-type=”bookmark” style=”display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;” class=”mce_SELRES_start”></span><span data-mce-type=”bookmark” style=”display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;” class=”mce_SELRES_start”></span>Saints Head Coach Justin Holbrook and fans favorite Lachlan Coote joined Wigan’s Adrian Lam and Zak Hardaker at the DW Stadium to talk-up the big game.A total of over 20,000 tickets have been sold by both clubs with Saints fans flocking in their numbers to support the Red Vee over the road. We have sold over 5,500 tickets for the big clash with more tickets still available in the East stand for any fans still wishing to purchase last minute tickets.Justin Holbrook revealed his 19 man squad earlier today and during the press conference said that he would assess the fitness of Theo Fages following the injury he sustained in the win over Hull KR.“We are OK [injury wise]. I am not sure on Theo Fages, we will see how he looks later in the week, but everyone else is fine.”On the opposite side, Wigan Head Coach Adrian Lam also revealed that they will assess the fitness of Sean O’Loughlin too ahead of the game.Holbrook was asked about Wigan’s recent run of in-different form, but admitted both teams will be on top of their game when it comes to Derby Day.“It is definitely [the biggest game]. Saints vs Wigan is massive for everyone given both sets of fans and the history. It is a massive day and we are looking forward to it.“They are as dangerous as any other side in the comp on their day. They might not be happy where they are sitting after 10 rounds, but we have certainly seen what they are capable of.“In any sport, in any derby, the two sides want to win more than everything. It doesn’t matter where both teams are in the table, both sides are prepared to play at their best and it will be no different on Friday.”Hardaker labeled the game ‘like a final’ and his opposite number Coote is well aware of the hostile environment he will come up against on Good Friday.“It was a great atmosphere [in round one]. Justin warned me about it being hostile and I am expecting nothing different this week. I am really excited to see what it is going to be like.”He was also asked about his start to life at the Saints as well as his reaction to the love the Saints fans have shown him.“I am enjoying it since I have been at the club, it has been awesome. We have a great bunch of blokes and playing behind the forwards makes my life much easier.“It was a pretty emotional night against Warrington, walking around with that atmosphere. To think where I was at last year, thinking I was coming to the end of my career but coming to the Saints really got me firing again and finding the love for the game again.”