Disabled campaigners have criticised new Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) rules that explain which benefit claimants will no longer have to be repeatedly put through the much-criticised “fitness for work” test.DWP announced last month, on the eve of the Conservative party conference in Manchester, that some claimants in the support group of employment and support allowance (ESA) – and the equivalent universal credit group – would no longer need to attend “routine reassessments”.Only those with “the most severe and lifelong health conditions or disabilities” will be exempt from reassessments, and they will be told of their exemption when they receive the results of their next work capability assessment (WCA), the test which assesses ESA eligibility.Although DWP declined to release the eligibility criteria for exemptions, the guidelines have now been published by Disability Rights UK, one of the disability organisations that took part in discussions with the government as it developed the policy.Among the new criteria, it states that a condition must be “lifelong” and “unambiguous” and that the claimant must have “no realistic prospect of recovery”, while their “level of function” must always meet the criteria for being placed in the support group.The ruling on whether a claimant should be exempted from further reassessment will be made by DWP decision-makers, following advice from the healthcare professionals who carry out the WCA and work for the discredited US outsourcing company Maximus.But DWP has made it clear that, although a claimant can ask the department to reconsider a decision not to provide an exemption if they believe their case has not been dealt with correctly, there is no formal right of appeal.Ken Butler, DR UK’s welfare rights officer, said the refusal to introduce a right of appeal was not fair on disabled people, while the criteria failed to address the “fundamental problems” of the WCA.He said: “The WCA causes stress, fear and anxiety to many disabled people and any effective reform to reduce this must be welcome.“The previous longest gap between WCAs [for] those who will be included in the new policy was just three years.“But it is an indictment of the DWP that it has taken a year for the new policy to be finalised and after nine years of the WCA being in operation.“It’s still unclear how well the new policy will operate and how many disabled people will be exempted from further reassessment by the criteria.”He added: “Disabled people would have more confidence in the WCA if assessments were carried out by doctors or specialists who had experience of their disability or health condition.”Linda Burnip, a co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, said: “It’s a typical government fudge which is basically meaningless and at best will only help a very few people avoid reassessments.“The other really damning feature of this is it appears that a medically unqualified decision-maker will be able to overrule both GP and specialist advice and opinion.“In short, it’s not worth the paper it’s written on.”Tom Hendrie, head of policy and communications at Cheshire Centre for Independent Living, also raised concerns about the lack of a formal appeal structure, and said he hoped the exemption would eventually also be applied to those claiming personal independence payment.John McArdle, co-founder of Black Triangle, said it was “absurd” that “unqualified bureaucrats” who were not medically-trained would be deciding whether someone should be exempt from reassessments.He said: “It’s ridiculous. How on earth can they be trusted to make such important decisions?”Meanwhile, DWP has released the names of the organisations which have been awarded contracts to provide employment support services under the government’s new Health and Work Programme.The aim of the programme is to support disabled people, those who are long-term unemployed, and other groups such as ex-carers, ex-offenders, homeless people and those with drug or alcohol dependencies.Although there were no contracts awarded to G4S or People Plus (formerly known as A4E) – two much-criticised companies that had been in the running – the contract to provide services across Wales was awarded to Remploy, the formerly government-owned business now mostly owned by the US company Maximus.Maximus has a disturbing track record of discrimination, incompetence and fraud in the US, while Remploy slashed the pay of service-users who were taking part in inspections of health and care facilities, after taking on three Care Quality Commission contracts.DNS revealed in May that disabled people helping to deliver a vital part of the CQC inspection programme were refused support workers by Remploy, while one was bullied into resigning.CQC was forced to write “formally” to Remploy three times over its concerns, while a CQC report in May 2016 found there had been “multiple issues with Remploy’s performance”, although CQC said its performance later improved.Remploy had been hit almost immediately by accusations of incompetence when it took on the CQC contracts in February last year, with claims of resignations and confusion.DWP declined to release further details of the contracts, including the names of the smaller organisations that will be working as sub-contractors on the six contracts, which are expected to include a number of disability charities.A DWP spokeswoman said: “The Work and Health Programme will use the expertise of private, public and voluntary and community sector providers to deliver sustained employment for disabled people, disadvantaged groups and the long-term unemployed.“It brings a different and refreshed energy and approach by offering: more intensive, tailored support than can be provided by Jobcentre Plus; contacts so that providers can offer unique support to claimants; [and] strong links to national and local employers to identify employment needs, identify roles and provide more individual training to better match people’s skills to jobs.”The other organisations to win contracts are the charity Shaw Trust in central England; Reed In Partnership in north-east England; Ingeus in the north-west; Pluss in the south of England; and Shaw Trust in the home counties.
LANGTREE Park will host Australia v Fiji on November 2 at 8pm after the Rugby League World Cup 2013 confirmed its kick off times today.The first two matches will follow the Opening Ceremony at The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff with England v Australia starting the tournament at 2.30pm. Host nation Wales will then face new boys Italy at 4.30pm.The ‘Big Hit’ semi-final double header will see the best four teams in the tournament go head to head at Wembley Stadium. The first game (Winner of Quarter-final 1 v Winner of Quarter-Final 3) will kick off at 1.00pm and the second (Winner of Quarter-final 2 v Winner of Quarter-final 4) will start at 3.30pm.The Rugby League World Cup Final, which will be shown live on BBC1, will kick off at 2.30pm, at Old Trafford.All of the games at the group stages which take place on a week day will be evening kick-offs. Where two games happen in a day at separate locations there is a minimum of four hours between kick-offs.RLWC2013 Tournament General Manager, Sally Bolton said “After the recent confirmation of the BBC and Premier Sports as broadcasters for the tournament, we’re delighted to now announce the kick-off times.“It’s great that with six months to go fans who have been waiting to buy tickets and plan trips around the tournament can do so. We expect demand for all tickets at all games to be high, today and over the weekend.“Despite the wait for information the ‘big three’ games have been selling consistently well. So fans considering attending those still need to act quickly to make sure they’ll be there at the best international Rugby League tournament there has ever been.”RLWC2013 Tournament ScheduleGroup Games – Round One1. Saturday October 26 – Millennium Stadium, Cardiff – Australia v England (A) 2.30pm2. Saturday October 26 – Millennium Stadium, Cardiff – Wales v Italy (C/D) 4.30pm3. Sunday October 27 – MS3 Craven Park, Hull – PNG v France (B) 4pm4. Sunday October 27 – Halliwell Jones, Warrington – New Zealand v Samoa (B) 6pm5. Monday October 28 – Spotland Stadium, Rochdale – Fiji v Ireland (A) 8pm6. Tuesday October 29 – Derwent Park, Workington – Tonga v Scotland (C) 8pm7. Wednesday October 30 – The Memorial Stadium, Bristol – USA v Cook Islands (D) 8pmGroup Games – Round Two8. Friday November 1 – Parc des Sports, Avignon – New Zealand v France (B) 8pm*9. Saturday November 2 – John Smith’s, Huddersfield – England v Ireland (A) 2.30pm10. Saturday November 2 – Langtree Park, St Helens – Australia v Fiji (A) 8pm11. Sunday November 3 – Glyndŵr University RS, Wrexham – Wales v USA (D) 2pm12. Sunday November 3 – Derwent Park, Workington – Scotland v Italy (C) 4pm13. Monday November 4 – MS3 Craven Park, Hull – PNG v Samoa (B) 8pm14. Tuesday November 5 – Leigh Sports Village, Leigh – Tonga v Cook Islands (C/D) 8pmGroup games – Round Three15. Thursday November 7 – Salford City Stadium, Salford – Scotland v USA (C/D) 8pm16. Friday November 8 – Headingley Carnegie, Leeds – New Zealand v PNG (B) 8pm17. Saturday November 9 – KC Stadium, Hull – England v Fiji (A) 2.30pm18. Saturday November 9 – Thomond Park, Limerick – Australia v Ireland (A) 8pm19. Sunday November 10 – The Gnoll, Neath – Wales v Cook Islands (D) 2pm20. Sunday November 10 – The Shay, Halifax – Tonga v Italy (C) 4pm21. Monday November 11 – Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan – France v Samoa (B) 8pm*Quarter-Finals22. Friday November 15 – Headingley Carnegie, Leeds – Winner B v Winner C (QF1) 8pm23. Saturday November 16 – Glyndŵr University RS, Wrexham – Winner A v Winner D (QF2) 1pm24. Saturday November 16 – DW Stadium, Wigan – Runner Up A v 3rd Place B (QF3) 8pm25. Sunday November 17 – Halliwell Jones, Warrington – Runner Up B v 3rd Place A (QF4) 3pmSemi-Finals26. Saturday November 23 – Wembley Stadium, London – Winner Q/F 1 v Winner Q/F 3 (SF1) 1pm27. Saturday November 23 – Wembley Stadium, London – Winner Q/F 2 v Winner Q/F 4 (SF2) 3.30pmThe Rugby League World Cup Final28. Saturday November 30 – Old Trafford, Manchester – Winner S/F 1 v Winner S/F 2 2.30pmNOTE: All kick off times shown are local (please note games 8 and 21 will kick off at 7pm (GMT)) and are subject to change.
RICHARD Beaumont says he is working hard and hopes to show everyone what he can do when Saints begin their pre-season programme later this month.The 25-year-old, pictured on the left here with Mose Masoe and Kyle Amor, signed from Hull KR last year and linked up with his new teammates in November.Now, after the long slog of training, he has his eyes firmly set on making a big impact.“We’ve signed a number of high-profile and experienced players and that probably means my signing has been a little un-noticed,” he said. “People probably only saw my face last season. I’m not worried about that, I just want to play my best and see what comes from there.“I’m excited about the future here and looking forward to putting my best foot forward in the friendlies.“We have a big pack and have a lot of players vying for spots too. That can only bring the best out in us and that’s what I want.“I am a prop but I know there are around 10 to 15 of us all vying for the spots. We have a good squad and good strength in depth.“I have settled in well and the lads have been great. There are quite a few new faces so that has made it easier and I knew Jon Wilkin too.”Richard was a scholar with the Robins and progressed through their system to make his Super League debut in back in 2011.A couple of injuries curtailed his contribution but the powerful prop is raring to go.“I was pretty happy to stay at Hull KR but once this move came up it was impossible to turn down. Saints are a top four club, are always aiming to win things and that made the decision easier. Being here will improve me as a player as I am playing with the best of the best.“I don’t have any real goals apart from playing as many games as I can. I will be going hard at the friendlies to show what I can do.”Saints will face Batley and Wigan in their pre-season programme before Super League XIX begins with an away trip to Warrington. They will then face Hull FC as Langtree Park ushers in a new season.To buy tickets for these fixtures and view Season Ticket packages click here.
LEWIS Charnock has joined Barrow Raiders on a two-year contract.The 22-year-old made six appearances for the Saints and made his debut against Salford in 2013.He scored two tries and kicked eight goals in his spell with the Red V.This season he has been on loan mostly at Bradford, but has also taken in a spell at Leigh too.Saints Chief Executive Mike Rush said: “It’s always difficult when a player who has come through the system here moves on, but we wish him nothing but the best at Barrow.“Dougie is a good kid and deserves to be playing week in week out. I’m sure he will take his chance at the Raiders.”
The shop is on Church Street in the town centre, just opposite Argos, and to celebrate its opening Paul Sculthorpe MBE and Tommy Martyn will be in store from 11am until 1pm this Saturday.“We congratulate our long–term sponsors Totally Wicked on the recent opening of their St.Helens branch and we wish Ash and his staff every success,” Saints Merchandising Manager Ste Law said. “We are delighted to work with Totally Wicked to enable them to offer for sale a range of popular Saints products including Home and Away shirts, T-Shirts, Stationery, Greeting cards and Mugs plus a range of Car products.“There is something for all budgets and all ages so pop along to the store to buy your official Saints Merchandise today.”Totally Wicked are a long term partner of the Saints and lend their livery to the Totally Wicked Stadium.They originally sponsored the North Stand but as the relationship grew signed stadium naming rights late last year.Please note that they are unable to take Gift Vouchers in the Town centre store as payment for goods. Vouchers can only be redeemed at the Superstore at the Totally Wicked Stadium.