A government climbdown over new disability benefit

first_imgA government climbdown over new disability benefit rules that were found by the high court to be unlawful and “blatantly discriminatory” demonstrates its failure to base its policies on sound research and evidence, say disabled campaigners.Esther McVey, the new work and pensions secretary, announced last Friday that she would not be appealing against the court’s finding, a decision that could mean that tens or even hundreds of thousands of disabled people will now be entitled to higher benefit payments.Regulations that came into force last March had meant that people who are unable to plan or undertake a journey due to overwhelming psychological distress would receive fewer qualifying points when assessed for personal independence payment (PIP).The new rules – which the government rushed through following an upper tribunal ruling which had found that such claimants should be entitled to those points – meant that many disabled people were entitled to a lower level of financial support for their mobility, and in many cases no mobility support at all.But the high court ruled last month that the new rules were unlawful, “blatantly discriminatory”, and breached article 19 (on independent living) of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.McVey’s decision means, she told MPs this week, that her Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will now be contacting as many as 220,000 disabled people who could be entitled to backdated payments.The legal case was supported from the beginning by the disabled people’s organisation Inclusion London through its Disability Justice Project.Svetlana Kotova, co-ordinator of the project, said: “This case is a great example of how disabled people should work with lawyers to stand up to the government and fight the injustice we experience.”   She added: “We knew those regulations were discriminatory and that’s why we supported this case from the start. “The threshold for the government to justify its discriminatory decisions about benefits is very low and in this case they could not cross even that. “The case laid bare the lack of evidence behind the DWP’s policy-making, which could not withstand scrutiny from the court. “In this case, the policy decision was based on unsupported assumptions made by DWP employees. “We knew from the beginning this justification was made up to mask the true purpose, which was to save money. We are delighted the judge saw it for what it was.”   Mr Justice Mostyn said in his judgement last month that DWP’s intention had been “to save money” and that the decision to introduce the new regulations had been “manifestly without reasonable foundation”.He said the work and pensions secretary had relied on a senior civil servant whose advice that people with psychological distress “generally have a lower level of functional need” had been “no more than a subjective opinion or hypothesis” and “a generalised assertion” without “factual or evidential basis”.Kotova said this was not the first time the government had failed to ground its policies in solid evidence.She said: “We are outraged that the policy which has an impact on thousands of disabled people was based on unsupported opinions of the DWP’s experts. “Sadly, the DWP does not know what our lives are really like and does not want to know, as they have failed to meaningfully engage with disabled people and our organisations for a long time.”The government U-turn comes in the same week that the Department for Transport (DfT) was forced to propose changes to its blue badge parking scheme, following a legal case taken by an autistic man with learning difficulties (see separate story).In that case, the man had had a blue badge for 30 years but was told by his local council that he no longer qualified because of changes brought in in 2014 following PIP’s introduction.This had made it almost impossible for many disabled people whose mobility is affected by mental health conditions or autism to secure a blue parking badge.The government failed to carry out an equality impact assessment of the changes before they were introduced.Picture: Activists outside the high court last monthlast_img read more

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City Report Shows Housing Shortfall Foresees Latino Population Decline in SF Mission

first_imgCritics and housing activists have argued that demand for housing in the neighborhood is so great that building enough housing to satisfy that demand is untenable.Campos said catching up to a 400,000 unit deficit is unfeasible and compared it to building “another city the size of San Francisco on top of San Francisco.” The city’s current housing stock comes to about 380,000 units. Instead,  he expressed support for the 18-month moratorium on market-rate housing in the Mission that would be enacted by Proposition I. He and other moratorium supporters emphasized the need for affordable housing, which is in short supply in the city’s pipeline compared to market-rate housing. The city is falling far short of its goal to build 30,000 new housing units by 2020. In 2014, the city added 3,514 new units 21 percent of which – rather than the stipulated 30 percent – were affordable. In the Mission, 627 units were added between 2010 and 2014, only 9.6 percent of which were affordable.“Who can live in this city with dignity that’s working-class?” asked Lariza Dugan-Cuadra, the executive director of the Central American Resource Center who was evicted from her Mission District home. “We need to stop displacement,” said Maria Zamudio, an organizer at the tenant advocacy organization Causa Justa::Just Cause. “This report shows clearly that more market rate development is only going to exacerbate this situation.”The report makes no claims about whether the city should build at a higher rate than it currently is.“It would be a very radical change in the level of construction in San Francisco, and ultimately to get to the needed numbers, a radical change in the city itself in terms of its density and population,” said Frank Brusseau of the Budget and Legislative Analyst’s office. “I’m not sure, given our current set of land use regulations, that it could be done or that it’s desirable on the part of the community and the policy makers.”Development proponents, for their part, interpreted the housing shortfall as a reason to build more aggressively. “There is a path to affordability. It involves a tremendous amount of units,” said Sonja Trauss, who heads the Bay Area Renter’s Federation. Where Campos and housing advocates see an impossibility, she sees a simple solution. “Instead of saying no, say yes,” Trauss said.  “There are people all over the city that, all they wanna do is build stuff. They come to the city and say, can we build? And the city says, I dunno, no? And then the city says, how can we build?”But to moratorium advocates, it’s the type of housing built that matters, and the preservation of the character of the Mission. The Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office also noted a 6,000-person decrease in Latinos in the neighborhood, along with a net population decrease of  almost 4,000, which the report attributed  to a reduction of the number of families in the neighborhood. Units are still occupied by multiple people, but they tend not to be related. Those changes are due, said Roberto Hernandez, to a lack of affordable housing. “San Francisco has failed to put together a comprehensive plan for affordable housing,” Hernandez. Under a moratorium, he said, funding for affordable housing should come from property taxes on newly developed housing and from taxes on Airbnb. “Where will we get the money? Let’s look at Airbnb. They’re finally paying taxes, right? You saw all the billboards about how the money should be spent,” Hernandez said, referring to backlash over the home-sharing platform’s controversial ads. According to Leticia Hernandez (no relation to Roberto), the Mission is “not dead, not resigned.”  Instead, she said, “there is a war waging.” 0% Tags: housing • latinos • mission moratorium Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%center_img The San Francisco Budget and Legislative Analyst’s office released a report Tuesday indicating that the city would have needed to add some 459,000 units over the past 30 years to bring housing prices down to national trend levels. Should current trends in the types and quantities of housing built continue, the report also says, the Mission will only be 31 percent Latino by 2025, and high earners will continue to replace low income families leaving the neighborhood.Supervisor David Campos commissioned the report after a September report by the city’s chief economist Ted Egan indicated that the proposed Mission moratorium would have no effect on the neighborhood’s evictions because most newcomers arriving in the Mission have moved into existing housing stock rather than new units. Egan also concluded that the moratorium was likely to raise rents around the city by a few dollars a month for new renters. “This report is a counter to the very one-sided, very narrow perspective that was presented earlier,” Campos said. last_img read more

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PAUL Wellens has spoken of his surprise at recent

first_imgPAUL Wellens has spoken of his surprise at recent events and admits he is facing a big challenge as captain.The 32-year-old has been through a number of coaching changes in his career and says the best thing to do is move forward.“I was a little surprised at what happened,” he said, “but it is not the first time in my career. It is always sad when a coach moves on – especially someone like Royce who is a really nice fella. Those who have met him will tell you what a great bloke he is, so that part is sad.“But from a player’s perspective now we need to move forward. We have a tough game at the weekend and that is where we have to focus our energies.“There is a lot of respect for Keiron Cunningham and Mike Rush; they have both been at the club a long time so when there is a bit of turmoil we have two guys who can quickly bring some stability back to things.“But I know I am facing a challenge that not many St Helens captains have faced for quite some time. It is on record that this is our worst run of form for 23 years – but it’s a challenge we can rise to. We have a tough run of games and I think that is exactly what we need at this moment in time.“We have lost games this year but not been thumped in any, we have been competitive in them all. We have not finished them as we should have done and come up with too many errors. That is something we will have to get out of our game. You will be surprised that the boys are still pretty confident and buoyant and I believe we will get a good response from the players at the weekend.”He continued: “Rugby League is a simple game that can be over complicated, for us it is about getting back to basics. If we do that we can start to build our performances.“Confidence is a big issue when you lose games and you become anxious and try to rush things and lose composure. A few of our young players have come up with uncharacteristic mistakes which will happen every now and then.“The young lads have had a lot of press over the last 12 months about how well they have done – and rightly so because they are quality young players. But sometimes that can push them on a little bit further than where they are. Perhaps when things like this happen it is not a bad thing because they can look at their game, assess where they need to get better and then move forward.“We have to use this change as a clean slate and ultimately start our season again. We will continue to work hard – I believe this squad can be successful despite the poor start to the season. I think we can compete for the Challenge Cup and win a Grand Final. I have that belief and I am sure the rest of the guys can too.”last_img read more

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ADAM Swift says Saints are looking forward to the

first_imgADAM Swift says Saints are looking forward to the challenge of a trip to Hull but they need to play a lot better than last week.The 20-year-old notched his 13th try in 12 appearances for the club in the loss to Warrington.“We are a point in front of Hull FC so it is a must win game,” he said. “That would get us a tough home draw in the playoffs. We’re looking forward to the challenge.“We came off the back of decent wins against Catalan and Wigan then we just got by against London and Wakefield. That meant we needed a good performance against Warrington. But starting the way we did got us on the back foot.“Building your way back into a game after that is difficult enough. They threw everything at us and we didn’t match them in aggression and getting off our line. That’s what happens if you sit back, teams get a roll and it is hard to stop it.“We need to learn from that.”Tickets for Friday’s match at Hull FC remain on sale.Details are here and you can buy from the Ticket Office at Langtree Park, by calling 01744 455 052 or by logging on here.last_img read more

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High surf winds from Irma in Surf City

first_img The waves were crashing against the side of the pier throughout the day.Despite the rough conditions, the beach and pier were packed with people checking out the spectacle.We spoke to one man, Larry Wood, who has been coming to Surf City for 50 years and he says he’s never seen anything like this.Related Article: Surf City will not resume dune restoration until November“I haven’t seen it this hard before, never seen the waves this high. Usually, you can come down here and you always see beach, unless it’s when you’ve got a full moon and a very high tide. I have seen the water high, but not rough like this,” said Wood.The strong wind gusts are expected to continue through Monday evening and into the overnight. The wind advisory is set to expire at 2 a.m. Tuesday morning.Other threats like isolated tornadoes and heavy rainfall will continue through the early stages of Tuesday. SURF CITY, NC (WWAY) — The winds were whipping and the ocean was angry all day Monday in Surf City.High tide occurred around noon and that was when the water was highest by the pier. It made its way all the way up to the dunes.- Advertisement – last_img read more

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Couple charged after meth lab found in White Lake trailer

first_img00:00 00:00 html5: Video file not foundhttps://cdn.field59.com/WWAY/1506130025-02293579d4515b353cf4093f6cb4a19d674487ed_fl9-720p.mp4 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 WHITE LAKE, NC (WWAY) — A couple faces charges after police say they were making methamphetamine in a travel trailer at White Lake.Keith Douglas Transue, 50, and Karen Joan Pham, 42, of Indian Trail, are charged with the following:Travel trailer where White Lake Police found meth lab (Photo: White Lake Police Dept.)Maintaining a dwelling for a controlled substanceManufacturing methamphetamineFive counts of possession of precursor’s chemicals with intent to manufacture meth- Advertisement – According to a news release, a joint investigation between the White Lake Police Department and the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office uncovered a meth making operation around 2:00 p.m. on Thursday at 46 Bingman Street.Police contacted the SBI and a Clandestine Laboratory Response Team processed the scene.Transue was placed under a $300,000 bond. Pham was placed under a $150,000 bond.(Photo: White Lake Police Dept.)Related Article: WPD: Man shot during drug dealPolice say the couple will face additional charges once test results are confirmed at the North Carolina State Crime Lab.last_img read more

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Pilot killed in plane crash outside of Whiteville

first_imgCOLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) —  One person died when a small plane crashed Tuesday morning outside of Whiteville.Columbus County Municipal Airport says a 1966 Beechcraft BE-35 Debonair aircraft was trying to land at the airport but crashed in a wooded area near Runway 24 around 10:30 a.m.- Advertisement – According to Sgt. S.G. Greene with the NC Highway Patrol, the call came in that a plane had crashed off of Pleasant Plains Rd.Sgt Greene says George Chartress, III, 62, from Lake City, Florida was the pilot. He died in the crash. The passenger, Richard Shawn, 58, from Bradford, Rhode Island only had minor injuries and refused medical treatment.Related Article: Parts of human body found at cargo plane crash siteGreene says the plane took off from Cannon Creek, Florida around 7:40 a.m. and was on the way to Rhode Island. They were stopping in Columbus County to refuel. As they were making an approach to land, the engine stalled and crashed about 400 yards from the runway.Sammy Jacobs and his friend were among the first to respond. The two heard the crash was behind a little white church on Pleasant Plains Road so they headed that way.“We could hear the man hollering. And I told him, I said, you go in there and see if you can help him and I’ll go out here and get some help. And that’s, that’s what we done. We were back off the road a little ways so I run back out there to the highway and flagged some log men down,” Jacobs said.Jacobs runs a wrecker service and said helping people is what he lives for. Jacob said he is just glad he could help save at least one life.The National Transportation Safety Board will determine the pilot’s cause of death.last_img read more

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Updates to change look name of Independence Mall

first_imgWILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Major changes are coming to Wilmington’s Independence Mall. From its look, to its name, the new owner of the property has some big plans in the works.Shopper Joanne Cura says she tries not to shop at Independence Mall.- Advertisement – “It’s outdated, it’s dirty and there’s really no good stores there,” Cura said.Many people think Independence Mall needs a facelift.“I think it needs to be updated, cleaner, nicer stores, more upscale stores like at Mayfaire,” Cura said.Related Article: Former Cape Fear Serpentarium could become dental practice, spaThe new owner, Rouse Properties, is in its planning stages right now. CEO Brian Harper said they are transforming Independence Mall into a contemporary mixed-use center with a new name, The Collection at Independence.“We are really looking forward to unlocking the true embedded potential of the property and bringing to this community a retail experience that is unlike anything else in the market,” Harper said.Harper said they plan to remove sections of the mall, opening it up to make it more modern. Although Harper could not comment on which new businesses may head this way, he said there are a lot of tenants interested that would be new to the area.“Not only is Wilmington historic in nature, but it continues to grow and diversify,” Harper said. “We want to play our part in assisting with this revitalization, which we believe we can do by creating a lifestyle center that almost acts as a de facto downtown. I think people are going to be really excited by the finished product.”It is a transformation aimed at bringing life back into the shopping center and one shoppers said would make them more likely to check it out.“It would, ’cause I love staying in this part of town. With the traffic driving to Mayfaire is a pain, so I’d like to staying in this part of town,” Cura said.Harper said they are happy with having Dillard’s and Belk as their anchor tenants.Rouse Properties plans to share more details about what shops and businesses will be part of the new plan early next year.last_img read more

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Old Town Creek road filled with potholes neighbors frustrated

first_img Brown said she has called the Department of Transportation for the past 10 years, complaining about these conditions caused by the weather and trucks driving through the area.Brown said the DOT sends crew to fix the roads from time to time, but Brown wants the road paved, not patched.“Where the worst part of it is on this road is because they’re doing some tree harvesting. The log trucks are just tearing the road up. But again, if they go ahead and pave the road we might not have the problem,” Brown said.Related Article: When will bridges close due to bad weather?And she’s not the only one upset about these potholes.“Every time I take them to school, I try to avoid the potholes. They’re so big I’m scared I’m going to mess up my car. I try to go around them but if there’s a car coming the other way, I have no choice but to hit the holes. And risk the chance of maybe popping a tire or messing up my wheel somehow,” a resident, Caitlin Biggerstaff, said.North Carolina Department of Transportation spokesman Brian Rick, said instead of calling, people need to go online and report potholes.When asked how they determine what is patched or paved, Rick said crews go out and assess the problem.We reached out to the D-O-T office in Brunswick county to get specifics about this situation. No one called WWAY back. If you have potholes on a state maintained road, contact the DOT. If you’re on a city maintained street, call your city. Private roads are the responsibility of residents. LELAND, NC (WWAY) — The past 10 years have been a rocky road for some Brunswick County drivers. For many people on Old Town Creek road, potholes are a frequent problem on their daily drive.“Anytime you drive through a pothole, it can’t be good for your car but I do know that it’s all an understood frustration for us neighbors because a lot of us don’t even use this road anymore,” a resident, Kayde Brown, said.- Advertisement – last_img read more

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MTN Ugandas halfyear results show continued performance improvement

first_imgAdvertisement MTN Group’s Interim results, for the six-month period to 30 June 2013, that were announced show that MTN is well positioned for improved organic growth. MTN Group’s results were supported by strong organic growth from Uganda with a 15.4% increase in year-on-year revenue. MTN is a leading emerging markets operator, connecting more than 200 million people in 22 countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East. It is at the forefront of global technological changes, delivering a bold, new Digital World to its customers.Announcing the MTN Group results and the achievement of 200 million customers, the Group President and CEO, Sifiso Dabengwa said, “We’ve reached this important milestone a year before we celebrate 20 years of connecting people and economies, from South Africa, where MTN was started in 1994, to South Sudan, our most recent market”.The results reflect a challenging operating environment given the sustained global economic slowdown, highly competitive mobile markets and pricing pressures, which have seen average voice tariffs across our markets fall 29.5% year-on-year (YoY) in US dollar terms. Despite these challenges, our substantial investment in network infrastructure and robust subscriber growth position us well for improved organic growth.Highlights from MTN Uganda show an increase in its subscriber base by 4.4% to 8 million from 7.7 million at the end of December 2012, driven by strong promotional activity, a reduction in churn and the continued success of the MTN Zone offering. – Advertisement – MTN Uganda’s revenue increased by 15.4%, supported by strong data revenue growth. SMS revenue declined 14.6% as customers opted for newer data-driven social media platforms to communicate and as internet browsing increased. This positively impacted mobile data revenue, which increased 57.4%, supported by a simplified data bundles offering and upgraded internet speeds, regional data exhibitions and a strong performance from MTN Mobile Money. MTN Mobile Money recorded a 51% increase in subscribers and more than 25 million transactions per month.Commenting on the results, MTN Uganda CEO Mazen Mroué said, “I am happy to note that the results announced earlier today show a steady performance for the MTN Group and particularly for MTN Uganda which has passed its 8 million customer landmark”.MTN Uganda’s focus over the last year has been on Network Quality, the rollout of innovative Products and Services and improvement of Customer Experience.During the last 15 years, MTN has made major investments to its infrastructure in Uganda. MTN Uganda launched the first mobile money service in Uganda with tremendous success, introduced 3G+ and 4G LTE, expanded the mobile distribution foot print, and greatly enhanced the mobile core, radio capacity and infrastructure technology.  Furthermore, it extended the fibre network backbone and built regional switching centres in the East, West, North and Central regions.[related-posts]In terms of infrastructure, last year MTN Uganda completed an additional 600km of fibre infrastructure closing the year with 2,800km of fibre to provide the capacity for high speed data connectivity and wider National coverage of 3G+ mobile data services that extend internet access to the rural areas of Uganda.“I would like to congratulate the MTN Uganda staff for their contribution and support in achieving these positive results. At MTN we recognize our staff as a key asset in enabling this success”, Mroué added.A key indicator of this excellence can be seen through a number of Awards that the company has received over the past couple of months showing endorsement from both its customers and other stakeholders.Last week, MTN Uganda received three awards from Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) including Best Telecom Company, Best Money Transfer Services and Best Internet Service Provider 2013. This came just a few weeks after MTN Uganda was recognized as Uganda’s leading Super Brand where MTN was also recognized in the Telecommunications, Internet, Computers and Technology category. At this same award ceremony, MTN Mobile Money was also recognized under the financial category, ranking closely to some banks and other financial institutions.Earlier in April, MTN Uganda was also voted as the Best Mobile Telecom provider of the year (2012) at the 2013 Uganda Responsible Investment (URI) awards.“The MTN Uganda leadership team is fully aligned and committed to support the staff to continue performing and excelling to ensure that we are able to deliver even better results by the end of the year,” Mroué said.He added that MTN Uganda will continue to invest in Uganda to ensure that it lives up to its vision of leading the delivery of a bold, new Digital World to our customers. MTN Uganda is embracing this vision through constant enhancements to our Data Network to deliver World-class Internet and make our customers’ lives a whole lot brighter.To celebrate this achievement, and to continue giving back to the communities that have supported MTN over the years, the Group President and CEO, Mr. Sifiso Dabengwa, also announced a bold R200 million initiative to improve the quality of education across our markets in Africa and the Middle East.“This is our opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to social development. Due to the lack of access to quality education and infrastructure, and low literacy rates in most of the countries we operate in, we will direct a significant amount of our corporate social (CSI) spend towards education over the next two years,” Dabengwa commented.last_img read more

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