The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has promised that no disabled people will have their benefits reduced because of its decision to review 1.6 million personal independence payment (PIP) claims.The review follows last month’s decision by the new work and pensions secretary, Esther McVey, that she would not appeal a court ruling that found new rules introduced last year by DWP were unlawful, “blatantly discriminatory” and breached the UN disability convention.The rules, which were rushed into law by the government last March, had meant that people who were unable to plan or undertake a journey due to overwhelming psychological distress would receive fewer qualifying points when assessed for PIP, with many receiving a lower level of financial support as a result, or even no PIP at all.The new rules were only introduced because an upper tribunal ruling had found that DWP was wrong to say that such PIP claimants should not be entitled to those points.Sarah Newton, the minister for disabled people, announced this week that, following McVey’s decision not to appeal the court ruling, DWP would review every one of the 1.6 million PIP claims that have been made since the benefit was introduced in 2013 to see how many had been wrongly assessed and were now entitled to backdated PIP payments.The review will include all those previously found ineligible for the benefit after being assessed by DWP and its contractors, Atos and Capita.The cost of implementing the court judgement is estimated to be up to £3.7 billion over the next five years.Newton announced the review on Monday in a written answer to a question from Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, Debbie Abrahams.Newton said the following day – in response to an urgent question from shadow disability minister Marsha de Cordova – that no-one would see their benefits reduced as a result of the review.But De Cordova told her that the “mess is one of the government’s own making” and was “a clear example to this government of the dangers of seeking to undermine both the independent judiciary and the House of Commons”.Stephen Lloyd, the Liberal Democrats’ work and pensions spokesman, said that “the government’s attempt to prevent those with mental health issues receiving the higher mobility rate was, frankly, nothing but a shoddy attempt to save money” and “a disgrace”.Newton promised that no-one would need to have another face-to-face assessment because of the review, which will be based on “existing information”, although DWP may need to contact some claimants and their doctors for further information.She told MPs: “Nobody is going to be called in for a face-to-face assessment, and nobody is going to have money taken away from them.”Most of the 1.6 million people who have tried to claim PIP since 2013 will not be awarded any extra support as a result of the review, but Newton said DWP had estimated that about 220,000 could see higher payments.She said the department had “already started to recruit more people at DWP to help with the PIP review”, but she promised that the department would not have to make savings elsewhere in its budget to fund the work and the extra PIP payments.A DWP spokeswoman said later that the review process would have “no effect” on the speed of the continuing roll-out of PIP, which has gradually been replacing working-age disability living allowance (DLA) since 2013.Ellen Clifford, campaigns and policy manager for Inclusion London, said: “We are pleased the government is not going to waste yet more taxpayers’ money on appealing the high court ruling and are taking responsibility to review all current PIP claims.“This could have a significant, far-reaching impact on hundreds of thousands of people who experience psychological distress, for once in a positive rather than an adverse way. “However, this is an enormous undertaking with as yet no clear timetable or information about how it will proceed and we are concerned that this means further anxiety and uncertainty for disabled people.“At Inclusion London we have already had several phone calls from individuals who are affected who are currently missing out on essential benefits and all we can tell them is to wait.“This whole debacle is symptomatic of a PIP assessment system that is dangerously dysfunctional.“It is also a terrible indictment of how the system is failing disabled people that it took an individual woman living with mental distress to have to put herself through the ordeal of taking a court case against the secretary of state for work and pensions in order to over-turn unlawful and ‘blatantly discriminatory’ government policy.”Philip Connolly, policy manager at Disability Rights UK, said: “Many disabled people have lost out because of changeover from DLA to PIP, and we welcome the announcement that the government is going to review 1.6 million cases.“This review highlights the ongoing and persistent failures of the assessment process, which is badly designed and implemented.“Huge amounts of tax payers’ money is being wasted on poor quality assessments which deny disabled people benefits that they qualify for – that’s one of the reasons the success rate at appeal is so high.“We urge all disabled people who are turned down for benefits they believe they should get to use the independent appeals process.”Meanwhile, the Motability scheme – which is only open to recipients of the enhanced/upper mobility rate of DLA or PIP – has told Disability News Service that it has no way of knowing how many of its former customers lost their entitlement to a vehicle and had to return it because of the way the government applied the PIP rules on overwhelming psychological distress.Motability said this was because it “has no role in determining who receives DLA/PIP, and we don’t receive any information on the details of someone’s assessment, their disability, or how many points they received in each area.“Since the introduction of PIP, we have seen a changing mix of people joining the scheme, and in particular, an increase in customers with mental health conditions.“We expect this to increase further following the recent announcement.”
A ground-breaking new partnership between disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) and Greater Manchester’s elected mayor could become a “template” for future work with local authorities across the region, according to one leading DPO.Greater Manchester Coalitionof Disabled People (GMCDP) said this week that it believed that Greater Manchester wasthe first combined authority in the country to establish a formal partnershipbetween DPOs and the elected mayor.The authority,led by Labour’s Andy Burnham, is now set to approve funding this month whichwill ensure that the lead of a new disabled people’s panel will be a paidposition.That will contrastwith lastmonth’s announcement by Sarah Newton, the minister for disabledpeople, who said that the chairs of nine new regional groups that will make upher new Regional Stakeholder Network would not be paid.GMCDP is nowasking disabled people to apply for the new part-time post, which will have apro rata salary of £31,100 a year.Thesuccessful candidate* will lead on work to set up the disabled people’s panel,which aims to “strengthen the voice of disabled people and their organisationsin shaping, challenging and influencing strategic policy issues that areimportant to disabled people across Greater Manchester”.Brian Hilton (pictured, right), GMCDP’s digital campaigns officer, said: “We are really pleased to be working with the mayor’s office on this important piece of work.“We hopethis can become a template for future work, not only with the mayor’s officebut across all Greater Manchester authorities.”He said thedebate around how much disabled people should be paid for their labour, skillsand expertise was “not a new phenomenon”. He said: “Thegovernment is not alone in trying to devalue disabled people by paying uspeanuts or, in the case of the regional disability network, nothing at all.“The currentpolitical climate allows such things to happen.”He pointedout that MPs from both sides of the House of Commons, including PhilipDavies and FrankField, have in recent years suggested that paying some disabledpeople less than the minimum wage would be a positive move forward. He said: “Thereality of course would be that it further divides our society into Us andThem. “Often therationale for paying us less is that we are less productive and that firms aredoing us a favour in the first place by employing us and by doing so keeping usoccupied.”But he saidthat paying disabled people less – or nothing – was “not the answer”. He said: “Theonly long-term solution is to remove the barriers that prevent us from gainingemployment, retaining our jobs and advancing in our chosen careers.“Not only isit important that disabled people and DPOs are recompensed for their time andexpertise, but it’s also important for and benefits the mayor’s office. “Paying forour expertise allows the mayor’s office to make demands on the work we do andthe input we provide. “Similarly,we are more focused, invested in the work being undertaken and committed tomaking the ongoing engagement a success.”The partnershipis likely to be seen as a campaigning success for GMCDP,which said before Burnham’s election as Greater Manchester’s firstelected mayor in 2017 that it hoped to persuade the successful candidate tomake the region a trailblazer for disability rights in England and “developground-breaking initiatives to tackle disability”.In contrastwith the Manchester post, Newton made it clear lastmonth that all those taking part in her new regional stakeholdernetwork – including the nine chairs – would have to work for free, apart fromtravel expenses and funding for disability-related costs.Newton alsomade it clear that non-disabled people and charities and other organisationsnot run and controlled by disabled people would be invited to join the network,potentially even as some of the regional chairs.*For details of the post and how to apply, visit the GMCDP website. The closing date is noon on Monday 18 FebruaryA 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…
IN the next week or so we will show you which players will be heading over to Australia as part of the 2013 Academy Tour.Here is the first batch…!Daniel Abram is a scrum half or full back who signed from Bold Miners having previously played at Warrington RU.Philip Atherton is a prop forward who signed from Orrell St James.Ricky Bailey is a full back or centre who signed from Shevington, having previously played for Telford Raiders.Tom Calland is a prop forward who signed from Widnes St Maries, having previously played at Widnes Moorfield and West Bank Bears.Many thanks to the sponsors who made the trip possible for this quartet.They are:Moortown ConstructionAdvantage Civil Engineering SuppliesWirehouseACS Construction GroupCTW Construction LimitedWarrington RU Will Fleetwood & Family EconoloftGrafton Merchanting Lock-Tec Access Control SpecialistsSt Peters Catholic High SchoolMy Life Social EnterprisesOrrell St JamesWe will introduce four more players on Monday.You can find out more about the tour here.
SATURDAY’S Reserve team game against Hull FC and today’s 19s match v Cumbria have been called off due to the weather.
KEIRON Cunningham says Saints have been working hard as they prepare to face Wakefield on Sunday.Following a blank weekend on the fixture calendar, the coaching team have been able to spend a lot more time with their squad.And they hope this will give them the advantage heading into a crucial time of the season.“We are better for the week off but the way we played in the last 50 minutes against Hull KR it would have been nice to roll into another side,” he said. “It is certainly not an ideal situation, seeing other teams progress, but it gives us added motivation.“They players have had a short break and we have trained them hard. We also have a long turnaround to get them ready for Sunday.“Wakefield are a great attacking side and Chris Chester has done a good job. There is a feel good factor about the place and the players are going well for them.“That came through at the weekend in the way they progressed to the semi-finals.“Miller is continuing to mature and in Johnstone and Jowitt they have two good players. Wakefield have always had a knack of producing really good local outside backs. It will be a tough game but it always is up there.“I like the environment there and how intimidating it is. A couple of the lads who played at Knowsley Road enjoy playing at Castleford and Wakefield, where the crowd is on top of you. There’s a connection with the fans.”Luke Walsh could return for Sunday’s fixture at Belle Vue but Cunningham says it is too early to rule him “in or out” at this stage.And he’s reiterated his views on making a ‘short term signing’ fix.“Players don’t come in for half a year; short term fixes in rugby league don’t work,” he added. “If we get someone in it has to be a player who can do well for the club in the long term or I could shoot myself in the foot.“Our job is to keep on the heels of the top four. We need to keep on winning and picking up points. In the Super 8s everyone plays everyone and you don’t know what will happen.“We need to keep on building.”Tickets for Saints’ next four fixtures are now on sale.Call into the Ticket Office at Langtree Park or go online here to secure your spots for our away trips to Wakefield, Huddersfield and Wigan as well as our home tie with Widnes.
The half back comes into the 19 in place of Kyle Amor.Justin Holbrook will choose his 17 from:1. Jonny Lomax, 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Ryan Morgan, 4. Mark Percival, 6. Theo Fages, 7. Matty Smith, 8. Alex Walmsley, 9. James Roby, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14. Luke Douglas, 16. Luke Thompson, 18. Dominique Peyroux, 20. Morgan Knowles, 24. Danny Richardson, 28. Regan Grace, 32. Matty Lees, 36. Zeb Taia, 37. Ben Barba.Chris Chester will chose his 17 from:1. Scott Grix, 3. Bill Tupou, 4. Reece Lyne, 5. Ben Jones-Bishop, 6. Jacob Miller, 7. Liam Finn, 8. Anthony England, 11. Matty Ashurst, 12. Danny Kirmond, 16. Tinirau Arona, 17. Craig Huby, 18. Joe Arundel, 20. David Fifita, 23. Keegan Hirst, 24. Mason Caton-Brown, 26. Chris Annakin, 32. Dean Hadley, 34. James Hasson, 35. Tyler Randell.The game kicks off at 8pm and the referee will be Ben Thaler.Tickets for the clash remain on sale from the Ticket Office at the Totally Wicked Stadium, by calling 01744 455 052 or online here.