A leading psychiatrist who helped the government draft guidance that protected mental health service-users who were threatened with forced work has refused to criticise major changes to the guidelines that have risked the lives of thousands of benefit claimants.Disability News Service (DNS) reported last month that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had secretly made major changes that watered-down guidance given to “fitness for work” benefits assessors, and then “lied” about what it had done.Ministers appear to have decided that it was worth risking the loss of some lives in order to cut benefits spending and force more disabled people into their discredited back-to-work programmes.The guidance explains how assessors should translate employment and support allowance (ESA) regulations 29 and 35, which concern whether decisions to find someone fit for work or able to carry out work-related activity would cause a substantial risk of harm to an ESA claimant.A DWP response to a freedom of information request, obtained by DNS this week, shows that new guidance was sent out to healthcare assessors working for the discredited US outsourcing giant Maximus in early December last year.The month after the new guidance was sent out, the proportion of claimants placed in the support group of ESA – and therefore not forced to take part in work-related activity – began to fall sharply.For claims completed in December 2015, 56 per cent were placed in the support group; the following month that fell to 48 per cent, and then to 33 per cent in February, and 33 per cent again in March.The previous version of the guidance, published as DWP’s Work Capability Assessment Handbook in February 2015, included six indicators of “substantial risk”, which were marked “D” for “definitive” – including someone who was currently sectioned, who had active thoughts of suicide, or had had a documented episode of self-harm requiring medical attention in the last 12 months – to show that that person should be placed in the ESA support group.But the latest edition of the guidance says only that such indicators “might” give rise to a substantial risk in “exceptional circumstances”.The new version of the handbook also tells assessors that they should consider factors that might “mitigate” the chance that someone could harm themselves or others, including “the benefits of employment weighed against any potential risk”.The previous version of the guidance was written by DWP with “external input” from Professor Peter White, a consultant psychiatrist at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London, and Professor Keith Hawton, director of the University of Oxford’s Centre for Suicide Research.But their names do not appear in the new, watered-down guidance.White has refused to comment on the new guidance, and the risks that it might pose to people in severe mental distress, and instead referred DNS to a named DWP press officer.A DWP spokeswoman said later that White “was involved in early discussions about the revised guidance but neither he, nor Hawton, played any subsequent role in its drafting or sign off”.DNS has been unable to contact Hawton directly, although messages have been left with his personal assistant and via email.The DWP spokeswoman added: “We in no way asked either Professor Hawton or Professor White not to comment on the new guidance.“It is for them to decide on whether they wish to engage with media.”John McArdle, co-founder of Black Triangle, said he found their silence to be “inexplicable” and “deeply alarming”.He said: “In the case of Professor Hawton, he is a world-leading expert in suicide prevention and one would have expected him to have something to say about the change in this guidance which will irrefutably lead to an increase in the suicide rate among claimants.“Both professors have a duty to speak out.”McArdle said the new guidance was giving assessors “permission to refuse benefits to people who have exhibited suicidal ideation in terms of regulations 29 and 35, and we believe that is unlawful and not human rights-compliant”.In April, DNS obtained a DWP document which suggested amending or removing regulations 29 and 35 as one of several policy proposals, and said that such a move would provide substantial savings.But the memo – drawn up before the 2015 election, and to be used if the Conservatives triumphed at the polls – warned that previous attempts to remove the regulations had been defeated in the courts, and that any changes in this area “carry a significant handling and delivery risk” because they would be “perceived as restricting application of the safeguards and may be considered discriminatory”.DWP’s press office have insisted that these “speculative policy formulations” were drafted by staff before the last election and “have not been raised, do not represent government policy and have never been sent to ministers”.But comparing the latest handbook with the version issued before the 2015 election shows the regulations were amended, although by changing the guidance rather than the rules themselves.DWP had failed to comment by 11am today (Thursday) on whether the new guidance was the reason for the fall in the proportion of claimants placed in the support group, and how it justified watering down the guidance when it was designed to stop people self-harming and taking their own lives.
A 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… The government has broken freedom of information laws by refusing to release documents that could reveal why it has failed to ensure there is a wheelchair-accessible front entrance to 10 Downing Street.The information commissioner has ruled that the Cabinet Office breached the Freedom of Information Act by failing to release reports to Disability News Service (DNS), including any documents that mention the two steps leading to the iconically-inaccessible front door.DNS has been trying for more than a year to discover what discussions have taken place about removing the steps.Although there is step-free access at the rear of 10 Downing Street, wheelchair-users wishing to use the front door must rely on a portable ramp.The latest request for information came in July 2018, when DNS asked for “any reports or documents on the subject of disability access (including those relating to the steps leading to the front door) at No 10 Downing Street that have been prepared over the last two years”.The Cabinet Office insisted that the only relevant recorded information was a 20-word extract from a draft memo that had already been released, which spoke of the “improved accessibility” from increasing the size of an internal lift.But DNS argued that a Number 10 spokesperson had claimed that Downing Street had “undertaken a programme of works over recent years to make sure this historic building is accessible to all who visit”, while Historic England had said the Cabinet Office was “rolling out a programme of improvements to the grade I listed complex to proactively address disabled access”.Historic England had also told DNS that an “accessibility audit is still being worked through and we will continue to advise as necessary”.Despite these statements, the Cabinet Office had insisted to the information commissioner that it held no recorded information on disability access at Number 10, or reports or documents concerning discussions with Historic England.Historic England has also since admitted that it does hold information about access at 10 Downing Street dating back five years but has argued that it cannot release it because of “national security” concerns.The information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, has now concluded that the Cabinet Office “holds further information within the scope of the request” and had breached sections 1 and 10 of the Freedom of Information Act.The Cabinet Office will now have to produce a legal response to DNS by 24 January, either producing the information or explaining why it has an exemption from doing so.The Cabinet Office said it would now review its response to the DNS freedom of information request.A government spokesperson said: “We are committed to ensuring Downing Street is accessible. “A custodian is constantly stationed at the front door so that access can be provided to the building at any time of day. “In addition, a new lift and more accessible toilets have been installed as part of work to improve facilities in this historic building.”Picture: 10 Downing Street, after the building won an access award in November 2017… despite the steps to the front entrance
NATHAN Brown admitted lady luck smiled on Saints as they progressed into the Fifth Round of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup.Luke Walsh kicked a last gasp drop goal to seal a dramatic 17-16 win.But the Giants were left dumbfounded by Danny Brough’s own one-point effort that was chalked off as it seemed to drift wide of the posts.“I couldn’t get a look at it,” Brown said. “I was up high and didn’t get a look at it. Lady luck certainly shone on us.“A lot of our players were below par today. We didn’t come up as a group. For the first 20 minutes our ball control, once again, was shocking but when we had the ball we were marching up the field. Willie Manu in particular was causing them a lot of trouble.“We got two tries and nearly got another as Willie looked to have been brought down without the ball.“Then after that period our kicking game was ordinary and our ruck defence was poor. The second half was better but we will have to do better next time.“That said, I was pleased with our last five minutes. We really worked hard for each other and charged down the first three drop goal attempts before they got one away. Our commitment and courage was brilliant.”With 15 minutes to go Brett Ferres was sent off for a spear tackle on Jonny Lomax; a decision Brown agreed with.“Brett Ferres’ sending off had an impact on the result,” he continued. “He isn’t a dirty player and wouldn’t do something deliberately like that. But we have seen what has happened in Australia and we don’t like challenges like that. It was a sending off.“I hope the Review Panel takes into account his good record because the punishment is in the sending off as it eventually cost them the game. Thankfully Jonny Lomax is healthy.“Kyle Amor has done a muscle in his ribs though so we will check on him in the week.”
People protest outside Buckingham Palace during the state visit of U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump to Britain, in London, Britain, June 3, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis KonstantinidisPeople protest outside Buckingham Palace during the state visit of U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump to Britain, in London, Britain, June 3, 2019. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis Donald Trump will plunge into Britain’s Brexit crisis on Tuesday and is likely to demand that Prime Minister Theresa May’s successor ban China’s Huawei from 5G networks as thousands of protesters mock the U.S. president across London.Feted by Queen Elizabeth and heir Prince Charles on the first day of his state visit to Britain, Trump turns to politics on Tuesday with talks in Downing Street, a news conference scheduled for 1245 GMT and a dinner that could include leaders of Brexit, such as Boris Johnson, the favourite to succeed May.Trump brings demands for the United States’ closest ally in Europe, including calls by his envoys for a tougher British stance towards telecoms giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.At a lavish banquet in Buckingham Palace, Trump praised the queen as “a great, great woman” and said the United States and United Kingdom shared an enduring alliance.“As we honour our shared victory and heritage, we affirm the common values that will unite us long into the future; freedom, sovereignty, self-determination, the rule of law and reference for the rights given to us by almighty God,” he said.The state visit, promised by May back in January 2017 when she became the first foreign leader to meet him after he took office, is cast as a chance to celebrate Britain’s “special relationship” with the United States, boost trade links and reaffirm security cooperation.But the collapse of May’s premiership over Brexit and Trump’s penchant for ignoring the conventions of modern diplomacy have made the trip one of the most unconventional state visits in recent British history.Before Air Force One even touched down on British soil, Trump praised Johnson, the former foreign secretary and leading Brexit campaigner, and advised a sharp exit from the European Union on Oct. 31 with or without a deal.Trump also called for arch-Brexiteer Nigel Farage, a scourge of May’s ruling Conservative Party, to conduct talks with the EU.BREXIT, BLIMP AND CHINABrexit is the most significant geopolitical move for the United Kingdom since World War Two and if it happens, London will be more reliant on the United States as ties loosen with the other 27 members of the EU.Huawei will top talks in London after the British government appeared to defy Trump administration demands and allow the Chinese company a limited role in building 5G networks.“We’ve been clear: Our ask is that our allies and our partners and our friends don’t do anything that would endanger our shared security interests or restrict our ability to share sensitive information,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.The Trump administration has told allies not to use Huawei’s 5G technology and equipment because of fears it would allow China to spy on sensitive communications and data. Huawei denies it is, or could be, a vehicle for Chinese intelligence.Britain’s so-called special relationship with the United States is an enduring alliance, but some British voters see Trump as crude, volatile and opposed to their values on issues ranging from global warming to his treatment of women.A giant inflatable blimp depicting Trump as a pouting baby in a diaper will fly outside the British parliament in London on Tuesday ahead of what is expected to be one of the city’s largest protests against a foreign leader.In central London, tens of thousands of protesters are expected to take part in a “Carnival of Resistance” later in the day to voice their opposition to the president. Among those taking part will be environmental activists, anti-racism campaigners and women’s rights protesters.While some Britons protest, May and Trump will hold a business breakfast at St James’ Palace with U.S. firms such as Lockheed Martin Corp, JP Morgan Chase and Co, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, construction company Bechtel and cybersecurity and data analytics firm Splunk IncMay will present Trump with a framed reproduction of the Atlantic Charter, which hung on wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s wall and set out principles of free trade and collective security that formed the basis of the postwar peace.As part of the visit, Trump will be given a tour of the Churchill War Rooms – a labyrinthine bunker-turned-museum underneath London, and he will take part in events to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, which turned the course of the war.Trump, May and their spouses will also view a ceremonial copy of the American Declaration of Independence. For lunch, they will have crab followed by beef fillet, and a meringue-based pudding known as ‘Eton mess’.While Trump and May sit down to political talks inside May’s Downing Street office, Philip May and Melania Trump will attend a garden party and take a guided tour of the building.The U.S. first lady will receive a tea set created by designer Emma Bridgewater from the prime minister and her husband.WhatsApp SharePrint <a href=’https://sp2.img.hsyaolu.com.cn/wp-shlf1314/2023/IMG8973.jpg” alt=”last_img” />
31 criminal offenders were ordered to do 4,865 hours of community work instead of being sentenced to a jail term in 2018.The work assigned to them varied from maintenance, clerical, working in dog shelters, working with sports organisations, religious organisations and organisations that work with vulnerable individuals.There were 37 cases where the offender was given a community sentence, amounting to a total of 6,840 hours doing community work, while in 2016 it was 58 cases with a total of 6,990 hours.The figures were tabled in parliament following a PQ by Opposition MP Hermann Schiavone to Justice Minister Owen Bonnici.WhatsApp SharePrint <a href=’https://sp2.img.hsyaolu.com.cn/wp-shlf1314/2023/IMG8716.jpg” alt=”last_img” />