There are still “serious failings” with the disability assessments contracted out by the government, even though it is paying outsourcing giants half a billion pounds a year to carry them out, according to a new report by MPs.The Commons public accounts committee says disabled benefit claimants still do not receive an acceptable service from contractors, more than 10 years after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) first began paying Atos to carry out assessments for the old incapacity benefit.The report on contracted out health and disability assessments says the committee has particular concerns about the way claimants with fluctuating and mental health conditions are assessed.The committee examined contracts with Maximus, Capita and Atos, who between them are responsible for assessing eligibility for personal independence payment (PIP) and employment and support allowance (ESA).The report says that between seven and 20 per cent of assessment reports do not meet the standard required by the contracts signed with DWP, with most mistakes relating to decisions made by assessors “not corresponding to the evidence”.It also says there are “unacceptable” local and regional variations in performance, and criticised DWP for failing to collect any data on how assessment services perform in different parts of the country.Although delays with PIP assessments have been reduced, it still takes Maximus an average 23 weeks to return an ESA assessment to DWP, while the cost per ESA assessment has increased from £115 to £190 under the Maximus ESA contract.Maximus has confirmed that it will fail to hit its target of completing 911,000 ESA assessments in 2015–16, the first year of its contract.Outstanding PIP assessments fell from 242,000 in mid-2014 to 57,000 in August 2015, and outstanding ESA assessments from 724,000 in early 2014 to 410,000 in August 2015.But the Disability Benefits Consortium told the committee that this improvement in backlogs had been achieved at the expense of quality.Between July and September 2015, only 40 per cent of PIP decisions and 41 per cent of ESA decisions made by DWP were upheld at appeal.Meg Hillier MP, the committee’s chair, said: “The troubled history of this programme hammers home the importance of getting contracts right – and the importance of then holding contractors properly to account.“In this case, poor performance has had a tangible human impact. We have seen some improvements but there is a long way to go before people being assessed can be confident of getting the service they deserve.”She said the committee had found “serious failings” which “must be dealt with rigorously”.Hillier added: “We will expect to see evidence of a more enlightened approach to the needs of claimants, greater transparency over contractor performance and a renewed focus on improving the quality of assessments.” Meanwhile, the Commons work and pensions committee has launched a new inquiry into the government’s commitment to halve the disability employment gap, the difference between the proportion of disabled and non-disabled people in work.At the end of 2015, the employment rate among disabled people was 46.7 per cent, compared with 80.3 per cent for non-disabled people.Halving the gap would mean finding jobs for another 1.2 million disabled people.The committee, which is appealing for written submissions for its inquiry, will look at “the scale of the challenge and the likely effectiveness of the government’s employment support and benefit policies in achieving this goal”.Picture: Maximus UK general manager Leslie Wolfe giving evidence to the committee’s inquiry in February
I was summoned back within, where a very antique, very weathered, bowling ball case sat on the bar. I examined it. Ran my hand over it. Opened it — and a cloud of fragrant smoke billowed out, revealing a chalice inside containing my drink, which was itself still smoking.“Beautiful,” I said. And it was: both to look at, and to drink.But I’d brought my friends here tonight to have a different kind of drinking experience. An experiment SRO is trying, and may well still be trying when you read this. On Monday nights, Alaric is moving from behind the bar in Oddjob to one of the (very) small, candle-lit tables in the alchemist lab of a bar that is SRO, and conducting three-card tarot readings. The bartender Desmond then creates your drink — unique and never to be repeated — based on the ultimate card of your reading, and what answer you took from the experience.Related: Distillations: An existential voyage into San Francisco’s greatest bar“Janet” was up first, while “Brad” and I stood at the bar and talked about occultism.“You’ve got a tattoo of the Kabbalah’s tree of life,” Brad said to Desmond. “And another one representing the devil in the major arcana.”“Yeah! Good eye!” Desmond said as he poured us shots to pass the time. (Waiting can be a significant part of the SRO experience – never come here in a hurry; you can’t rush the sacred). Although, since Desmond is covered in tattoos, I was more impressed that Brad could pick anything specific out than I was that he could recognize the symbolism.“Oh, I’m really into this,” Brad said. “I have a whole occult library at home. Floor to ceiling, all kinds of stuff.”I’ve actually been to his place: His room is half occult library, half antique bar (well stocked), with a bed wedged in. He lives in an artists’ collective, and I am convinced that every artists’ collective should have a room like that.It’s also awkward for me to talk with Brad about this kind of thing. For me, occult texts are something I grew out of in college. I’m still interested in it as history, but it’s like having a conversation with somebody who’s really into D&D and won’t believe you when you say you don’t do that anymore.But Brad and Desmond were getting along like old friends, which is always gratifying, and a moment later Janet’s reading was finished, and she came up to the bar and handed Desmond her tarot card. Then it was Brad’s turn for a reading, and he stepped over to the little table. Desmond had something waiting for me when I arrived with a small party at the SRO (Standing Room Only) section of Oddjob.“I’ve been thinking about doing this all day,” he said, and actually made me leave the room while he created my drink. I stood near the bar in the much larger outer room, and one of the bartenders came up to me and asked if I needed anything.“I’m just … Desmond sent me out here, it’s part of making my drink,” I said.“Oh, sure,” he replied matter-of-factly. All kinds of shit happens here. Email Address Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newsletter Alaric uses a hermetic tarot deck that was passed down from her mother, and the card that held Janet’s fate was a Two of Pentacles — “the Lord of Harmonious Change.”That’s a good card for her. Janet needs some harmonious change in her life. But it didn’t come easy. “There was a lot of gloom,” she said of the reading. “A lot of introspection.”Desmond fixes her two drinks, with very different flavors and appearances, which sit on a used board with nails protruding from it. The drinks need to be sipped together, one right after the other, to deliver the full effect. She tries it, proclaims it delicious, and tells me as she drinks about how her boyfriend left his phone lying around and she tried to hack it to see his messages. It didn’t work, and the phone is now locked to the point that only the manufacturer — maybe — can unlock it. So she had to come clean. It’s a problem.I’m not sure what to tell her. I am not nearly a good enough friend to know how to talk to about something like this. This is not my strong suit. Recently at a house party I introduced the people I knew to the people I didn’t as “forest rangers from Oregon,” just to see what happened. That kind of thing is much more my speed. I’m that friend.Brad’s reading ended and he was about to come back up to the bar when Alaric stopped him to give him a hug. “Thank you for being so open,” she said. I have no idea what happened there. I saw the card he got — a King of Wands (“Prince of the Chariot of Fire”) but didn’t get to hear what it meant or see how his drink was made, since now it was my turn to be read, and a crowd had come into the bar since we’d first arrived, and so there could be no lingering between readings.Alaric and I looked at each other across the table. She shuffled the deck. “This is cheating,” she said, “because I know you. But go ahead.” I cut the deck in several places, put it back together, and then selected three cards: an Ace of Pentacles (“Lord of the Root of the Power of Earth”) reversed; an Ace of Wands (“Lord of the Root of the Power of Fire”) reversed; and Death (“Child of the Great Transformers”).“Wow,” she said. “Two reversed aces and Death. You’re screwed.” We laughed. “Okay, like I said, this is total cheating, because I know you, but it’s also pretty obvious; you have this whole mask, this whole persona, which is these powerful aces, fire and earth, but holding on to that mask and wearing it too much is twisting everything, and you’re not getting the benefits and riches that normally accompany these two cards. So … you have to kill the mask. Kill the persona. It has to die. And that’s it. Take the Death card. Get your drink.”Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?I showed Desmond the card. “But I don’t want you to die!” he protested.“I’m sorry, but we both agreed,” I gestured back to Alaric. “It has to happen.”“Well,” he said, thinking about it, “then I’m making you a sweet drink. I want you to have a sweet death.”“Awww!”So I watched him work as Brad told me about the way he’s studied the iconography of Devil card representations in Tarot, and that in many traditional decks the Devil figure is holding chains that wrap around the necks of humans in his service.“But,” Brad continued, “The chains are really loose, they’re not tight, they’d be easy to slip out of. Which means that they aren’t being held against their will. They want to be there, in bondage. I think that’s pretty interesting.”In this moment, he’s talking to me about my life, not D&D at all.The drink Desmond made me was dark and foreboding and deep … but indeed very sweet, as if I were not so much dying as falling asleep in the arms of friends. This does seem to me to be the perfect way to die.Brad looks over at the exposed nails coming out of the board that Janet’s two-drink drink is situated on. “Pretty dangerous, there,” he said.“Drinking is always dangerous,” Desmond replied.Follow Benjamin’s work here.
NATHAN Brown says Saints are in control of their own playoff destiny.A win over sixth-placed Hull FC at the KC Stadium on Friday will hand his side a home tie in the playoffs.And that would be a big boost according the club’s head coach.“Everyone wants to play at home and it would be good to do so,” Brown said. “The ball is in our court to do that and we can control what happens. The key for us is to play well. If we play well we will give ourselves a chance.“Playing at home would be an advantage but the reality is we will play either Hull KR or Catalan who are both very good. It’s not like years ago when you knew the eighth placed team wouldn’t be good enough. Whoever you take on now is always going to be a tough team to face. All sides have recruited well and the competition has got a lot stronger.“We have a tough game on Friday. Hull rested players at the weekend after the cup and it was a good game. It was a tough game to get a gauge on though.”One thing Saints will need is a good start over in Hull.Before Friday’s loss to Warrington, their run of seven wins in eight matches was based on solid foundations.“Physically, with and without the ball in the first 15 minutes Warrington were better, they got their rewards and the ball bounced their way,” Brown continued. “They came out of the blocks and whether it was the head coach who didn’t start with the right team, we just weren’t quite right or we didn’t give the opposition the respect they deserve, we just didn’t come up right at the start of the game.“But as a whole it was good preparation for the finals and a good lesson. It was a tough, intense, physical end to end match and that is what the finals will be all about. The young blokes got an idea of what is coming and what we need to do too.“We decided to start Sia Soliola off the bench as he had only played one game in ten weeks. We have a lot of confidence in Anthony Walker and Josh Jones and they have played well for us. To play an intense game against that pack of international forwards will do them well. You can only learn if you play.“Sometimes you can look too much into things. It wasn’t just the younger ones that didn’t start very well. When Sia and Louie (McCarthy-Scarsbrook) came on they gave us a lift. Lance Hohaia did that in the middle too. And we rose and rose for 60 minutes. The game was a real contest and at 22-16 we had a real chance. But we didn’t take those chances and then Lee Briers kicked the field goal.“There is a lot to take out of the game but we didn’t come out of blocks well enough. “Saints will have James Roby back in the line-up this Friday with Paul Clough also expected to feature. Sia Soliola is also likely to start.Stat Pack: Three of the last five meetings between Hull FC and St Helens have finished in draws, including the last two – 22-22 at Langtree Park earlier this season and 18-18 at the KC Stadium on 3 June, 2012.The sides also fought out a 24-24 stalemate in the previous fixture at Hull (2 May, 2011). Only Danny Tickle’s last-minute winning field goal prevented 2010’s fixture at the KC Stadium also ending all square, with Hull taking the spoils 27-26 (4 June, 2010).2013 Meeting:St Helens 22, Hull FC 22 (SLR3, 15/2/13)Super League Summary:Hull FC won 10St Helens won 23 (includes win in 2006 Grand Final and wins in 2001 and 2006 play-offs)3 drawsHighs and Lows:Hull FC highest score: 44-6 (H, 2005) (also widest margin)St Helens highest score: 74-16 (H, 1999) (also widest margin)Personal Milestones:Paul Wellens remains one point away from 1,000 in his career. He has scored 953 points (218 tries, 40 goals, 1 field goal) for St Helens since 1998. He has also scored points for Great Britain (18 – 4 tries, 1 goal), England (16 – 4 tries) and Lancashire (12 – 3 tries).Ade Gardner needs one try to reach 200 career touchdowns. His total of 199 has been scored as follows: 173 for St Helens (2002-2013), 15 for Barrow (2000-2001), 2 for Great Britain (2006-2007), 2 for England (2008) and 7 for England ‘A’ (2002-2003). He has also made three non-scoring appearances for Cumbria (2003-2004 & 2010).Francis Meli needs three tries to reach 150 whilst in the British game. He has touched down 143 times for St Helens since 2006, to go with 4 tries for The Exiles (2011-2012).
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Saints have won their last four home fixtures with the Vikings’, with their last defeat at the Totally Wicked Stadium coming 35-28 on May 3 2013.Squad:Both sides have named their 19-man squad with Jonny Lomax returning for Saints. Read more here.2017 Meeting:Widnes 16, St Helens 14 (SLR11, 21/4/17)Super League Summary:St Helens won 18 Widnes won 3Highs and Lows:St Helens highest score: 62-0 (H, 2012) (also widest margin) Widnes highest score: 40-26 (H, 2014) (also widest margin)Head to Head Season Stats:SaintsWidnesTries5653Goals4639Metres20,35119,616Breaks7769Tackles5,4285,849Penalties121157Career Milestones:Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook needs one appearance to reach 300 for his career. He has played 200 games for St Helens since 2011, to go with appearances for Harlequins (97, 2006-2010) and England (2, 2008-2009).James Roby needs one try to reach a career century of touchdowns. He has touched down 91 times for St Helens since 2004, to go with 7 tries for England (2008-2013 & 2015) and 1 for Great Britain (2006-2007).Mark Percival needs ten points to reach 500 for St Helens. His total of 490 has been reached with 44 tries and 157 goals in 87 games for the club since 2013.Betfred Super League Leading Scorers:Tries: 1 Greg Eden (Castleford Tigers) 25 2 Liam Marshall (Wigan Warriors) 17 3 Albert Kelly (Hull FC) 15 4 = Greg Minikin (Castleford Tigers), Ben Jones-Bishop (Wakefield Trinity) 14 6 Joel Moon (Leeds Rhinos) 12 7 = Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers), Jamie Shaul (Hull FC), Matt Parcell (Leeds Rhinos), Tom Lineham (Warrington Wolves) 11Goals: 1 Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers) 76 2 Marc Sneyd (Hull FC) 64 3 Luke Walsh (Catalans Dragons) 54 4 Liam Sutcliffe (Leeds Rhinos) 42 5 Mark Percival (St Helens) 41 6 Liam Finn (Wakefield Trinity) 40 7 Michael Dobson (Salford Red Devils) 36 8 = Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants), Gareth O’Brien (Salford Red Devils) 35 10 Ben Reynolds (Leigh Centurions) 32Goals Percentage: 1 Kallum Watkins (Leeds Rhinos) 100.00 (10/10) 2 Marc Sneyd (Hull FC) 90.14 (64/71) 3 Luke Walsh (Catalans Dragons) 87.09 (54/62) 4 = Paul McShane (Castleford Tigers), Martyn Ridyard (Leigh Centurions/Huddersfield Giants) 83.33 (10/12) 6 Jake Connor (Hull FC) 81.81 (9/11) 7 Liam Finn (Wakefield Trinity) 80.00 (40/50) 8 Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers) 78.35 (76/97) 9 Michael Dobson (Salford Red Devils) 78.26 (36/46) 10 Liam Sutcliffe (Leeds Rhinos) 76.36 (42/55)Points: 1 Luke Gale (Castleford Tigers) 199 2 Marc Sneyd (Hull FC) 141 3 Mark Percival (St Helens) 118 4 Luke Walsh (Catalans Dragons) 116 5 Liam Sutcliffe (Leeds Rhinos) 105 6 Greg Eden (Castleford Tigers) 100 7 Gareth O’Brien (Salford Red Devils) 96 8 Michael Dobson (Salford Red Devils) 92 9 Liam Finn (Wakefield Trinity) 84 10 Morgan Escare (Wigan Warriors) 77
His charges ran in seven tries to win 46-28 and cut the gap to the top four.“This was a real danger game for us after our win over Hull last week,” he said. “We were never going to get gifted the points today – we had to go and earn them. They pushed and pushed us so I was pleased to get the win.“Our start wasn’t up to our usual high standards but I wasn’t worried. It was always going to be a dangerous game and you have to give Catalans credit. They have some dangerous players and in the last few weeks they have played better.“I am therefore really happy how we finished the game off. We swapped the lead a few times and I was really impressed with the boys’ attention to detail to finish off a game like that.”He continued: “The half back partnership of Theo Fages and Danny Richardson is going ok. Theo has taken more responsibility and has come up with some really good quality touches for us. He is responding to the opportunities now.“When I first took over he wasn’t looking for or taking them but he has certainly been better over the last few weeks. He is playing really well and is a key part of our team at the moment.“Danny is finding his feet, has been solid and is doing a good job. I am ok with where we are there … we have to keep working though.“It will be a tough game at Wakefield next week. It was a really important for us to win today. It can be hard when people expect you to win so I am happy with how we finished the game off.”
UPDATED 17.5.19We have been sending pre-ordered shirts as stock arrived in to us and we have now almost completed the orders with the exception of Age 13-14yrs sizes which are due next week.If you have pre-ordered via the webstore for posting, the last of these will be posted today, and if you have marked them for collection you will receive an email to confirm your order is ready to collect. Please bring your email with you and bring proof of Identity.If you placed your order in the Saints Superstore please bring your till receipt with you, again please be aware of no size 13-14 yrs stock currently in store.Finally, if you are coming to the match tonight please get into the store early as we expect a lot of collections and queues that could get longer towards kick-off. The store will be open until kick-off and will re-open again after the match for 45 minutes.For those who missed the deadline to pre-order, once all orders are completed we will put any remaining shirts on general sale in store midday next Tuesday 21st May. Stock is likely to very limited. We will also have a very limited quantity of Shorts, Socks and Infant Kits in store, plus a limited quantity of Magic Weekend bears.Thanks again for your support.
A house built in only 30 hours has Beatty a little on edge.“I’m a little nervous, but I have faith in them,” Beatty said.Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity is teaming up with Stevens Fine Homes, Episcopal High School, dozens of sponsors, and nearly 100 volunteers to complete this project.Related Article: NCAA and UNCW athletics celebrate first build for ‘4 on 15’It is a project that will change both Beatty and her 7-year-old son’s lives.“It’s something that I always, you know, wanted to do. I always told myself by 30, 35, I’m going to be a homeowner with a yard. You know, it’s just something I always wanted to do so I worked hard for it,” Beatty said.The structure of the home has been laid out for the most part, but the official building will begin Thursday morning at 7 a.m. It has been a long road for Beatty, but her dream is about to come true in a matter of hours.“I’m just ready to sit on my porch and, you know, enjoy the breeze out in the country area,” Beatty said. “But I’m gonna be very excited about it.”Beatty’s new home is expected to be finished by Friday at 1 p.m. NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Building a house in 30 hours sounds impossible, but that is exactly what one local organization is planning to do. In honor of it’s 30th anniversary, Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity is building it’s 195th home.“I told them like, ‘I don’t know, 30 hours, 30 hours’,” future homeowner, Ashley Beatty said.- Advertisement –
Yuron Washington, 24, of Wilmington, was shot in the stomach and had to undergo emergency surgery.Police say witnesses told officers they picked Washington up from a Speed Way gas station on Carolina Beach Road, where he was stumbling from behind the businesses. But, police say witnesses later changed their story multiple times.If you know anything call Wilmington Police at (910) 343-3609 or use Text A Tip. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington Police are investigating a shooting that happened early this morning.According to a news release, officers responded to New Hanover Regional Medical Center around 12:50 a.m. in reference to a gunshot wound victim who had been dropped off at the Emergency Room.- Advertisement –
Visitors are still welcomed during construction at Battleship in August 2017. (Photo: Helen Holt/WWAY) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The USS North Carolina got a big boost to help construct the cofferdam which is now under construction around the famed battleship.Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage donated $10,000 to the Friends of the Battleship Generations Campaign.- Advertisement – The money will go toward work on the cofferdam which is a watertight structure being built to create a dry around the ship.When it is complete, crews will be able to repair and restore the ship’s hull. The hull was last repaired in 1953.