Complaints about disability benefit assessments up 6,000% in three years, figures show


The variety of complaints to the federal government about its disability profit evaluation course of has surged by greater than 6,000 per cent in three years, prompting contemporary issues that the system is “flawed” and harming disabled individuals.

Authorities figures present 9,320 complaints have been acquired about medical assessments for Private Unbiased Cost (PIP) within the yr to February 2019 – in contrast with 1,391 in 2016-17 and simply 142 in 2015-16.

This marks a surge of 570 per cent in two years and 6,463 per cent in three years – which campaigners mentioned exhibits that the method is “utterly insufficient” for disabled individuals. The general variety of PIP claims has risen by 67 per cent since 2016.

The medical evaluation course of for PIP – a disability benefit that changed Incapacity Dwelling Allowance (DLA) in 2013 – has come underneath mounting criticism from politicians and charities who say it’s riddled with inaccuracies and forces disabled claimants to “battle” for the assist they’re entitled to.

Hundreds of refused claimants take their instances to courtroom annually to attraction the selections. Of these, 73 per cent go on to win their appeals at tribunal – casting doubt over the accuracy of decision-making.

Jennifer Jones, 38, who suffers from myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and bipolar dysfunction, had been receiving DLA for round seven years when she was reassessed for PIP, at which level her excessive fee of every day dwelling allowance was modified to the bottom fee, which she mentioned led to a “enormous discount in assist”.

The only mother-of-two, who additionally suffers from fibromyalgia, which causes ache everywhere in the physique, mentioned it meant she couldn’t make easy journeys as a result of she may now not afford taxi charges.

“Once I was advised I needed to transition I assumed, like lots of people did, that I’d be supported the identical as earlier than,” she mentioned.

Ms Jones misplaced independence when her incapacity funds have been reduce (Jennifer Jones)

“The reduce meant I wasn’t in a position to get out of the home very a lot for about six months. I misplaced any sense of independence. It was simply issues like attending to the grocery store – simply abnormal, mundane issues that lots of people who don’t have mobility wants wouldn’t suppose twice about. It’s so limiting.”

Ms Jones took her case to tribunal, and only a week earlier than the listening to, a Division for Work and Pensions (DWP) caseworker phoned her and mentioned her authentic assist can be reinstated.

She mentioned that whereas she was happy to now be in receipt of her entitled advantages, many different disabled individuals didn’t have the resilience to battle adverse choices. She cited the case of 1 pal who killed himself after being refused PIP and then sanctioned for failing to attend the job centre.

She added: “I’m satisfied that this tactic of refusing obligatory reconsiderations is as a result of they know that quite a lot of us can’t address the stress of going to a courtroom and that lots of people will simply say I can’t do it. So individuals are then happening to unemployment profit and they don’t seem to be coping.

“It took over half a yr to get mine sorted out and now, in just some months’ time, I do know these kinds are going to return by means of my door but once more. It’s a dread each time the letter field goes.

“The assist moving into work is nice for some individuals, however there are a lot of of us who’ve tried and tried to work and may’t, and now it seems like we’re being whitewashed out of existence.”

In one other case, the husband of a PIP claimant, who didn’t need to be named, mentioned his spouse misplaced £123.45 per week when she was reassessed in December 2018. That included £64 within the carer assist component of her award, which means her 30-year-old daughter now cares for her full-time with no monetary assist.

The 68-year-old man, whose spouse suffers from epilepsy and subsequent reminiscence points, mentioned: “She had been getting that fairly fortunately for 20 odd years, and all of the sudden somebody turns round and says you’re not getting it in any respect.

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“They’re making an attempt to chop cash with out trying on the circumstances. Sure, there are fraudulent individuals on the market, however these individuals know how one can play the system and it’s the sincere individuals who appear to be getting hammered by this. 

“It’s affecting individuals like my spouse who on account of epilepsy has acquired reminiscence issues, however they don’t seem to care.”

Ian Lavery, the Labour MP who obtained the figures by means of a parliamentary query, mentioned the present advantages system was “driving individuals into destitution”.

He mentioned that within the yr to March 2019, his workplace helped constituents win again a complete of £275,011 in PIP claims and appeals, and that even the native authorities welfare assist crew have been passing instances to his caseworkers.

Anna Hen, govt director of coverage and analysis at incapacity equality charity Scope, mentioned: “PIP is a lifeline that exists as a result of life prices extra in case you are disabled. It’s important that disabled individuals get the monetary assist they want.

“The federal government must hear to those frustrations and act shortly to overtake PIP assessments and familiarize yourself with the routine inaccuracies disabled individuals expertise.”

Genevieve Edwards, of the MS Society, mentioned: “This surge in complaints is in no way stunning, given the evaluation course of is so utterly insufficient for disabled individuals. 

“We incessantly hear about how the method causes nice anxiousness, stress and hurt to individuals’s well being. Even those that’ve had elevated assist say the method takes a toll on their emotional and bodily wellbeing.”

A DWP spokesperson mentioned: “We would like the PIP evaluation course of to work nicely for everybody and have made vital enhancements, together with testing the video recording of assessments. This yr complaints represented lower than 1 per cent of all PIP assessments.”

Lyra McKee: Mural tribute to murdered journalist appears in Belfast


A mural of murdered journalist Lyra McKee has been painted throughout a wall in Belfast.

Emma Blake, a Dublin based mostly artist, created the picture within the centre of Northern Ireland’s capital as a part of its annual Hit the North road artwork competition.

She painted it over the financial institution vacation weekend, on four and 5 Could. By Monday the portray of the 29-year-old journalist, who was shot useless final month, had attracted guests who stopped to take pictures of the mural.

The picture of a smiling Ms McKee seems alongside a shifting letter she wrote to her 14-year-old self.

The piece touched on her struggles as a homosexual teenager rising up in Northern Eire and unfold shortly on-line within the hours after she was shot useless by a stray bullet on 18 April throughout a riot within the metropolis of Derry. 

A brand new mural of Lyra McKee in Belfast metropolis centre (PA)

“It gained’t all the time be like this. It’s going to get higher,” Ms McKee wrote within the letter. 

“Avenue artwork is all the time dialogue,” mentioned Adam Turkington, the artwork competition’s organiser. “Writing on a wall is all the time political, whether or not you realise it or not. I believe what’s been actually fascinating is the way you’ve seen that the aftermath of Lyra‘s loss of life has performed out in artwork on partitions – whether or not it’s the bloody hand prints on the workplace partitions or whether or not it’s individuals portray over the IRA murals in Derry. That’s activism.

“Avenue artwork has its roots in activism and in anti-establishment-ism, but in addition find methods to speak with one another about issues that actually are onerous to speak about.

“It’s about aesthetic, it’s about place-making. And particularly within the context of Northern Eire, the place we’ve these very divisive murals, road artwork for me on this context is all about constructing a shared house and discovering a spot that folks can co-exist.”

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“It’s a really pure factor in a manner that Lyra has been represented on this manner on the competition and lengthy could it proceed.”

The mural’s location, in Kent Avenue in Belfast’s centre, can be important.

The portray faces an current piece of road artwork which offered a hanging backdrop for {a photograph} of Ms McKee that was broadly circulated within the wake of her loss of life.

The 29-year-old was killed by the so-called New IRA whereas masking dissident rioting in Derry final month.

Her loss of life has sparked outrage the world over in addition to a swell of criticism for dissident republican violence in Northern Ireland.

Further reporting by businesses

Two men dead and two injured after wall collapses at farm near Falkirk


Two males have died and two others had been injured after a wall collapsed at a farm in Scotland.

The incident occurred on an property within the Falkirk space at round 10.10am on Monday.

Police Scotland stated two males suffered critical accidents and had been pronounced useless on the scene.

Two different males additionally suffered accidents which aren’t believed to be life-threatening.

One was taken by ambulance to the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, whereas the opposite was airlifted to Glasgow‘s Queen Elizabeth College Hospital.

Police stated enquiries to determine the total circumstances are being carried out and the Well being and Security Government (HSE) has been knowledgeable.

Chief Inspector Damian Armstrong, the native space commander for Falkirk, stated: “My ideas and sympathies are with the households of these affected by this incident and a multi-agency inquiry on the farm is ongoing.

“If anybody believes they’ve any related info that could be of use to this investigation then please come ahead and quote incident 1081 of 6 Might.”

The property the place the incident occurred lies off the A803, between Linlithgow and Falkirk.

Native street closures had been put in place whereas the emergency providers attended.

A fireplace service spokesperson stated: “The Scottish Hearth and Rescue Service responded at 10.11am on Monday with emergency service companions to a farm within the Falkirk space following studies of a collapsed wall.

“Operations management mobilised various fireplace home equipment to the Whitecross space.”


Bank holiday weather: Monday to bring freezing weather as temperatures plummet


Freezing temperatures have beckoned in one of many chilliest begins to an early Could financial institution vacation on document.

Temperatures dropped as little as -4.3C as icy air flowed southwards from the Arctic.

Components of Scotland have been left with patches of frost and a few sleet over excessive floor.

The minimal was recorded at Katesbridge in Co Down, whereas a low of -2.4C was seen at Shap in Cumbria, -1.7C in Sennybridge, Brecknockshire, and -1C at Loch Glascarnoch within the Highlands.

The bottom recorded temperature for the early Could financial institution vacation Monday was -5.9C on 7 Could, 2012, at Kinbrace in Sutherland.


Met Office meteorologist Simon Partridge mentioned: “We’re caught between excessive stress to the west of us and low stress to the east, which is giving us northerly winds – it’s drawing air straight down from the Arctic.”

Temperatures are anticipated to peak at 14C or 15C within the south on Monday afternoon.

Nonetheless, northern components will battle to see double digits as a band of rain pushes in direction of the south and east.

“It’s going to be pretty chilly in the course of the day, beneath common for the time of yr, however it’s not going to be too dangerous and the wind’s going to be gentle,” Mr Partridge mentioned.

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“It is going to be usually dry, though there’s a band of showery rain that’s going to slowly transfer its approach from Scotland southwards via components of Northern Eire and northern England then ultimately into components of East Anglia.

“That can make it really feel a bit cooler via there, however both aspect of it’s going to usually be dry and vivid with sunny spells.

“It is going to keep principally dry within the south, the place will probably be warmest, so Wales and far of southern England shall be high quality.”

Further reporting by PA

Age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales ‘too low’ says watchdog


The low age of legal duty in England and Wales is placing youngsters in danger throughout essential years of their improvement, the human rights watchdog has warned.

In an unprecedented transfer, the Equality and Human Rights Fee (EHRC) has known as on lawmakers to lift the age at which a toddler might be deemed answerable for committing a criminal offense – presently at 10.

England and Wales have the bottom age for legal duty in Europe, together with solely Switzerland. In different European nations, the age is considerably larger – at 14 in Germany, 15 in Sweden and 16 in Portugal. 

A whole bunch of 10- and 11-year-olds obtain youth cautions or court docket convictions in England and Wales yearly, whereas the use of tasers on youngsters is rising.

Regardless of a big discount within the variety of youngsters in custody lately, England and Wales nonetheless have the best stage of kid imprisonment in western Europe, in line with the Howard League for Penal Reform.

On Monday, the EHRC advised the UN Committee in opposition to Torture that exposing younger youngsters to a judicial system might have “dangerous” results on their wellbeing and improvement, and that this “criminalisation” would make them extra prone to re-offend as adults.

Authorities figures present that in the yr ending March 2018, there have been 47 10-year-olds and 229 11-year-olds who acquired a youth warning or court docket conviction in England and Wales.

There have been 16 reported incidents of using tasers on youngsters beneath 11 in 2016-17. 

The watchdog additionally raised vital considerations in regards to the welfare of youngsters in youth custody, highlighting that jail situations are deteriorating and using restraint, together with pain-inducing restraint, is rising.

Segregating youngsters as punishment can be rising, with some youngsters in younger offender establishments (YOIs) being remoted for over 22 hours a day, for intervals extending to 30 days or extra.

David Isaac, chair of the EHRC, stated various welfare-based approaches should be thought-about as a way to finish the “vicious cycle of detention”. 

He added: “Rising the age of legal duty is crucial to guard youngsters and their futures. We all know that very younger youngsters who’re detained usually tend to re-offend as adults.  

“Using pain-inducing restraint on youngsters can have each brief and long-term results and dangers instructing them that violence is a method to resolve issues. Intentionally inflicting ache on youngsters should be stopped.”

Proof submitted to the UN by the Howard League, which is backing the calls by the EHRC, reveals that the charity receives 40 calls every year on its authorized recommendation line from incarcerated youngsters about being remoted in jail.

The charity is representing a 15-year-old boy who was routinely locked alone in his cell in Feltham jail for 23 and a half hours a day, for 55 days, throughout which he acquired no schooling – therapy caseworkers stated amounted to “inhuman” and “degrading” therapy.

It comes after a cross-party group of MPs called for use of pain-inducing restraints and solitary confinement on youngsters in detention to be banned. 

They stated “unanimous” proof from docs, attorneys and inspectors discovered the measures had been inflicting long-term hurt to younger individuals.

Carolyne Willow, director of youngsters’s rights charity Article 39, stated: “It’s totally shameful for the UK to be again in entrance of the UN’s anti-torture committee when it has didn’t implement suggestions made six years in the past. Ache-inducing restraint has no place in a civilised society.

“Our nation’s largest public inquiry, the Impartial Inquiry into Little one Sexual Abuse, says these methods are a type of little one abuse which should be prohibited by regulation. Ministers should cease dawdling and take motion now to forestall extra youngsters being severely harmed.”

As of October 2018, there have been 619 boys aged 15 to 17 in YOIs. Some 152 women and boys aged 12 to 17 had been in safe coaching centres – that are designed to carry extra susceptible youngsters – and 88 had been detained in native authority-run safe models.

The EHRC advisable that the UK authorities adopts extra welfare-based approaches for coping with youngsters within the legal justice system.

It reiterated its requires a ban on any approach that intentionally inflicts ache on youngsters.

The human rights physique stated that the place detention is critical as a final resort, youngsters shouldn’t be saved in prison-like settings, however detained in secure and applicable environments, in shut proximity to their households, the place they are often supported by extremely expert and specialist employees.

The Ministry of Justice has been approached for remark.

Drone films ‘big cat’ prowling around British field in third sighting in one month


A person who claims to have captured footage of a “big cat” prowling the British countryside utilizing a drone has mentioned he was confused by the animal’s unusually giant look.

Ashley Could filmed the creature utilizing a micro-drone on the enjoying fields of a school in Launceston, Cornwall.

Whereas the animal resembled a domestic cat, Mr Could mentioned it was a lot larger than any cat he had ever seen.

“I don’t know what it was nevertheless it had an extended tail and it was the dimensions that stood out. It didn’t look small,” he mentioned. “I am going to the fields most days however I’ve by no means seen it there earlier than.”

He added: “There have been carcasses of rabbits round and, at the moment of 12 months, I don’t suppose these would have been attributable to a fox.”

Stuart Wilton, who was with Mr Could on the time, mentioned he managed to stroll up behind the animal.

“I mentioned to Ashley: ‘That cat is huge’. I wandered into the sector till I used to be simply 5 ft away from it. It was about three ft lengthy,” he mentioned. “It wasn’t a panther or something like that.”

Mr Could mentioned he was sharing the footage on-line within the hope that somebody may be capable to determine the animal.

Though the 2 males couldn’t say what kind of cat it was, Mr Wilton thought its measurement resembled a big cat that was caught on digital camera in west Cornwall final month.

One other huge cat sighting was additionally reported in Gloucestershire just lately, which was filmed within the Forest of Dean in April.

The existence of huge cats within the UK has lengthy been debated.

Whereas many alleged sightings have been debunked as hoaxes or misidentifications, there are some which stay mysteries.

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) advised the Observer in April: “Neither Pure England nor Defra have acquired any credible studies of untamed dwelling or breeding huge cats in Britain in recent times.

“Defra will not be at the moment engaged in any work associated to the administration of untamed huge cats in Britain and has no plans to take action.”


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