The performance of the two companies carrying out

first_imgThe performance of the two companies carrying out disability benefit assessments on behalf of the government is continuing to deteriorate, according to new figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).The DWP figures, released to Disability News Service (DNS) under the Freedom of Information Act, show that the proportion of personal independence payment (PIP) assessments carried out by outsourcing giant Capita that lead to a complaint has risen significantly in the last three years.And the proportion of PIP assessments carried out by fellow outsourcing company Atos that lead to a complaint has increased sharply in the last two years.The figures suggest that the likelihood of claimants experiencing sub-standard PIP assessments at the hands of the two companies has dramatically increased, despite public expressions of regret to MPs by Capita and Atos in February 2016 and December 2017 (pictured) about their performance.The figures also show that Capita is continuing to attract a much higher rate of complaints than Atos, while Capita is also about twice as likely to uphold a complaint as Atos.In 2015, there were more than 1,800 complaints about Capita, with 1.1 per cent of assessments leading to a complaint.But that rose to 1.42 per cent in 2016, to 1.44 per cent in 2017 and 1.57 per cent last year, with 3,490 complaints about Capita assessments in 2018.In 2015, 0.52 per cent of Atos assessments led to a complaint, falling slightly to 0.49 per cent in 2016, before rising to 0.69 per cent in 2017 and 0.8 per cent in 2018.Last year, Capita upheld 34 per cent of all PIP complaints, while Atos upheld only three per cent of “admin” complaints and 15 per cent of “clinical” PIP complaints.DWP refused to say if it was concerned by the rise in complaints, by Capita attracting more complaints than Atos, and by Capita upholding more of those complaints.It also refused to say if the figures showed that the performance of Atos and Capita was worsening year by year, and it refused to say what action it would take to address these concerns.Instead, a DWP spokesperson said in a statement: “We want the PIP assessment process to work well for everyone and have made significant improvements, including testing the video recording of assessments.“The number of complaints about PIP assessments represents less than one per cent of the total number of individuals assessed.”Capita refused to say why it appeared to be attracting so many more complaints than Atos; why it was drawing more complaints every year; why it was upholding so many of those complaints; and whether it believed the figures showed its performance was worsening year by year.A Capita spokesperson said: “We are committed to delivering a high quality and empathetic service for people applying for PIP.“All our people are focused on delivering the best service to individuals coming through the PIP assessment process – their passion is evidenced in our monthly independent customer satisfaction results, which in 2018 was over 95 per cent.”Atos refused to say why it thought it was attracting more complaints every year, and whether the figures showed that its performance was worsening year by year.It also refused to say why it was upholding so few complaints, and fewer than Capita.But an Atos spokesperson said: “While complaints represent on average less than one per cent of all assessments, we strive to ensure every claimant experience is positive, which is why our focus has consistently been on providing a professional and compassionate assessment service.”Last year, the then minister for disabled people, Sarah Newton, announced that the government was extending the Atos and Capita PIP contracts by a further two years, to 2021.Since the introduction of PIP in 2013, the two companies have earned hundreds of millions of pounds from their assessment contracts.DNS spent months investigating allegations of dishonesty by PIP assessors in late 2016 and throughout 2017, hearing eventually from more than 250 disabled people in less than a year about how they had been unfairly deprived of their benefits.It continues to receive such reports today, more than two-and-a-half years after the investigation began. 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…last_img read more

Uber Drivers Push Back Against Proposed Settlement in Suit

first_imgA Federal judge said Thursday that he would deliberate on whether to approve a $100 million settlement that would end a class action suit brought on by Uber drivers who allege the rideshare company has misclassified them. The settlement was reached in April between Uber and the lead attorney representing the drivers, Shannon Liss-Riordon, but was met by opposition from the drivers who called the terms of the deal “unfair.”The suit accuses Uber of misclassifying the drivers as independent contractors despite requiring them to adhere to employee-like regulations. It settled earlier this year for $100 million, but a group of unhappy drivers said that amount was insufficient and called for Liss-Riordon’s ousting. Liss-Riordon still represents the suing class of drivers, but new attorneys representing drivers who have brought additional claims against Uber argued in court for the deal to be halted.  0% Carrying signs that read “Fire Shannon,” the drivers attended a hearing at 450 Golden Gate Ave. in which a federal judge dissected the terms of a settlement. Many present at the courthouse said that once the settlement is split among the drivers and their attorney, they would be left with “peanuts.”“A good third of that money is going to the attorney, and the rest will be released upon [Uber’s] IPO, assuming if and when that goes to market,” said Edward Escobar, who is from the Mission and serves as the spokesperson for the Alliance for Independent Workers, a group of drivers that formed to hold the company accountable for what they say are worker’s rights violations caused by the misclassification.Under the deal, drivers are likely to be awarded $84 million in payment, and could receive another $16 million should the app-based startup, which on Thursday was backed with a $3.5 billion investment from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, enter the public market.Theodore Boutrous, an attorney representing Uber, said that the company believes the settlement is fair. When asked about the likelihood of drivers receiving their payouts, Boutrous said that given Uber’s growth, a successful IPO is “very likely.”“[As part of our settlement negotiations], drivers are given additional stake in the company,” said Boutrous. “It’s a valuable term that’s worth a significant amount.”The estimated 385,000 drivers covered in the suit will be compensated depending on their the miles they drove, and some newer drivers could walk with as little as $25.“The money that they are offering is a pittance,” said Escobar, adding that the settlement would also keep the drivers classified as independent contractors. “For Uber, this settlement would mean business as usual. But if they want us to be like employees, they have to pay us as employees.”Escobar criticized Liss-Riordon for foregoing “the drivers’ best interests” in exchange for a $25 million cut from the settlement. Like many other drivers, Escobar also works for Uber’s Mission-based competitor Lyft – also involved in a separate class-action lawsuit over employee misclassification. He does so out of necessity, because cuts in fares aiming to keep Uber’s rates competitive make it difficult for drivers to make ends meet.  Though Uber has previously prohibited its drivers from unionizing, some Bay Area drivers have teamed up to demand compensation for expenses such as gas, insurance and vehicle maintenance, which they are expected to fork over themselves.“I don’t think that they have a real understanding of what we actually have to deal with,” said Mission resident Valerie Mitchell, who began driving for Uber in 2014 because the money was good and the promise of a flexible schedule appealing.“I paint on the side, and the flexibility in time was fabulous,” said Mitchell. “But now, I drive almost everyday. I’m definitely full-time, and it’s still not enough.”Mitchell said that over the past two years, the company has slashed its rates continually, making it difficult for the drivers to maintain the flexible schedules advertised by the company.Margot Castro, a Mission-based immigration consultant, said she too is troubled by the low wages and long work hours of many of her Uber driving clients, many of whom are immigrants and speak English as a second language. “Some [drivers] don’t even know that this is wrong. [Uber] has a lot of money but they make [their drivers] very poor,” said Castro. “Some are telling me they don’t have time for their families.”In the courtroom, Liss-Riordon defended her decision to settle during a hearing that stretched nearly four hours.  “This settlement would provide relief for a class that at this stage of litigation is at risk,” said Liss-Riordon. “If anyone wants to opt out there’s nothing stopping them.”But Judge Edward Chen questioned provisions of the settlement and opted to give his decision at a later time, though no date has been set.Chen scrutinized the terms under which a driver can be deactivated, or terminated from the app at will, and also questioned promised changes to the company’s tipping model.Unlike Lyft, Uber has not incorporated a tipping option in its app platform, and drivers who ask for tips are often punished by negative ratings from riders, which in turn can lead to termination. Under the settlement, the company promises to do more to encourage riders to tip their drivers.Some drivers expressed frustration with the outcome of the hearing, saying that their contracts with Uber have affected their quality of life and ability to survive in the Bay Area.“I’m disappointed, there are so many issues that I feel have not been touched on,” said Mitchell after leaving the courtroom, such as the company’s refusal to compensate drivers for the rides they make to riders’ pick-up destinations.The group was supported in their demands by the labor union SEIU 1021, and spokesperson Shum Preston called the driver’s misclassification a “current social justice issue.”“What we’re seeing in the Bay Area is this new gig economy, and that often means for workers that they are getting the worst deal,” said Preston. “They don’t have the various employee protections, and are out there alone trying to negotiate with this gigantic company.” center_img Tags: tech • Transportation Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%last_img read more

Mission Local gets a new and swell managing editor

first_img 0% Exciting news at Mission Local! Joe Eskenazi, who has been writing a column and occasional news pieces here, will become Mission Local’s Managing Editor, starting June 4. I’ve followed Joe’s career closely since I launched Mission Local in 2008. Back then, he was working at SF Weekly and I checked the website multiple times a day to read his latest posts. From there, Joe went to San Francisco Magazine, where again he was responsible for the most insightful political reporting around. Oddly, we had never met, so last summer I reached out to him. As luck would have it, he was free and looking for new outlets. I promptly signed him up. Joe’s byline quickly became one to watch  His years of political reporting paid off in his coverage of Ed Lee’s legacy, London Breed’s ouster as interim mayor, and the funneling of heaps of tech and real-estate dollars into the firefighter union’s political action committee. Other memorable pieces: Paul Pelosi’s involvement in a Single Room Occupancy Hotel, and the eviction of four generations of a Latino family from the oldest house in the city on Hampshire Street. Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newsletterEmail Address Joe will give our site direction and energy. In addition to overseeing coverage, he’ll be critical to meeting some of our other key objectives — training the next generation of reporters, experimenting with style and doing more investigative work.I will remain to help edit, raise money and to establish our fiscal sponsorship so that donors who want to support our mission can do so and get a tax break. Stay tuned and thank you to all of the residents and businesses who have supported us over the years. Lydia Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%last_img read more

SAINTS would like to thank all the fans players

first_imgSAINTS would like to thank all the fans, players, coaching staff and club officials who came down to Langtree Park today to clear the pitch ahead of tonight’s friendly with Dewsbury Rams.Keiron Cunningham led the efforts with his coaching team as well as first team players such as Jonny Lomax, Tommy Makinson, Shannon McDonnell and Matty Fleming.But it was the numbers of fans who came down and toiled throughout the morning that ensured the game could go ahead.“It was fantastic to see so many people here at Langtree Park and once again, on behalf of all at the club, and Dewsbury, we thank them for their time,” said CEO Mike Rush. “Club officials, physios, community staff and Academy players joined the first team coaching staff and players in their efforts.“Although it was duly noted that Alex Walmsley failed to show up, we really appreciate the players’ time this morning. Seriously though, this is why St Helens is such a great community club!”Saints covered the pitch ahead of the snow arriving but with a couple of inches of snow overnight asked volunteers to come and clear it.Then, the covers were removed – the Langtree Park surface uneffected by the weather.The volunteers were offered free tickets for tonight’s game.Tonight’s game kicks off at 6.30pm.last_img read more

SAINTS have a good record over Castleford in the m

first_imgSAINTS have a good record over Castleford in the modern era with the Tigers seeking their first ever Super League away win when they come to the Totally Wicked Stadium this afternoon.Castleford’s last win here was 12-8 in the third round of the Regal Trophy on December 19 1992, with their last league win coming in 1990.Squads:Ricky Bailey, Matty Fleming and Dominique Peyroux have been named in Saints’ 19-man squad. Read more here.Super League Summary:St Helens won 38 (includes wins in 1999 and 2014 play-offs) Castleford won 5 1 drawHighs and Lows:St Helens highest score: 72-4 (A, 2006) (also widest margin) Castleford highest score: 36-22 (H, 2002) (Widest margin: 35-16, H, 1997)Head to Head:SaintsCastlefordTries2861Goals2052Metres11,96511,901Breaks4779Tackles3,1132,656Penalties7167Club Milestones:Michael Shenton needs one appearances to reach 250 for Castleford. In his second spell with the club, he first made his Tigers debut in a 42-28 home defeat to Wigan on May 1 2004. He went on to play 153 games in his first stint with Castleford, up to the end of the 2010 campaign.After two seasons with St Helens, he made his second Castleford debut in a 40-24 defeat at Warrington on February 3 2013. He has played 96 games for the club since then.last_img read more

Clinton man charged in two separate Whiteville crimes

first_img The Columbus County Sheriff’s Office says a few hours later, early in the morning on Thursday, a woman who lives on Fred Powell Road in Whiteville stepped outside to turn off her Christmas lights and left her door unlocked. When she came back in, her wallet was missing from the couch where she left it with $540 inside of it. The woman also smelled an unfamiliar cologne/perfume smell, which led to her spare bedroom. The woman told deputies her bedroom door was cracked open, which was closed when she left it. When she opened the door and turned on the light, a man, later identified as Chavis, was standing in there. He ran out of the home.Around 2:30 a.m. on Thursday, a Master Sergeant with the Columbus County Sheriff’s Office spotted a man on the front porch of another home on Hudson Drive. Chavis was identified and arrested for the the Possession of Stolen Property Charge from the Wednesday night incident on Hudson Drive.The woman on Fred Powell Road also identified Chavis as the man who entered her home. Deputies say Chavis had the woman’s property on him at the time of his arrest.Related Article: ‘Not a monster’: Chris Watts’ parents defend son who murdered familyHe’s also charged with first degree burglary and larceny after breaking and entering.He was also served for a parole violation.He is in the Columbus County Detention Center. 00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek  . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave Settings COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A Sampson County man is in jail under a $250,000 bond, charged with two separate crimes in a matter of hours.The Columbus County Sheriff’s Office says deputies responded to Hudson Drive in Whiteville on Wednesday night around 9:30 in reference to a prowler. Deputies say when they arrived, Jeffery Ryan Chavis, 36, was standing next to a car wearing dark clothing. He then ran off. A witness told deputies the car Chavis was standing by was stolen. Deputies confirm it was stolen from Fairmont.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Armed teachers Will it be helpful or backfire

first_imgWILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The shooting in Florida on Valentine’s Day has created major debate about guns across the nation and here in the Cape Fear.President Trump suggested arming teachers with guns. “If you had a teacher who was adept at firearms, they could very well end the attack,” he said. It’s an idea Trump and a lot of people have had recently to help make American schools safer.- Advertisement – “I don’t believe that forcing teachers to carry a weapon is the correct way to go about doing things,” firearm instructor Andrew Smith.Smith says arming school staff could put unnecessary pressure and responsibility on teachers, even if some volunteer.“I’ve heard several vocal teachers say ‘hey I’m more than willing to pick up that gun and be that guy or be that gal if I need to,’ but I think there is a gross underestimation of the required skill needed to be able to proficiently perform that task,” Smith said.Related Article: Giuliani: ‘So what’ if Trump and Cohen discussed testimonyChris Meek with the North Carolina Association of Educators agrees.“Law enforcement agents go through a rigorous course load to train to protect the public and teachers go through a rigorous course load to educate the public. So the two shouldn’t be mixed,” Meek said.Retired teacher and member of the New Hanover County Retired School Personnel, Patsy Watson, also does not believe educators should have the responsibility of protecting students with guns.“I would like to ask our president, I would like to ask our Senate and Congress to please study this issue more carefully and not put it on the backs of teachers,” Watson said.Many proponents of arming teachers have suggested using teachers who are already trained or have a concealed carry permit. President Trump has even suggested a bonus for those teachers. The folks we spoke with agree many schools could not afford doing this. They say more needs to be done with mental health and background checks.last_img read more

Teacher of the Week Sherman Axelberg

first_img She has been teaching for many years and says she also learns from her students.  With teaching she says “you learn patience and you learn to love in a different way.  The lessons you learn as a teacher are immeasurable.”In her class they students compete against the teacher in a contest called ‘Beat Chef Axelberg’ which is fashioned after ‘Beat Bobby Flay’ on the Food Network.  The school’s Broadcast program records the contest for the community to see.On the day Ms. Axelberg was presented with the WWAY Michael and Son Teacher of the Week she was being filmed for the school’s show and she won!Related Article: Flooding in Fair Bluff rivals devastation after MatthewIf you know a teacher cooking up fun in their class like Ms. Axelberg you can nominate him or her by clicking here. FAIR BLUFF, NC (WWAY) — Sherman Axelberg teaches Culinary Arts at Columbus Career and College Academy and says her students are “like her own kids.”  In fact she says it’s an honor to be “entrusted with these children by their parents for a few hours every day.”She loves to cook and loves to teach, but says there is much more to her job.  “I try to teach them that this is not just something they’re gonna take and maybe or maybe not use. I’m also teaching them work ethic, how to be a team player, and how to stand on their own two feet. There are a lot of lessons way beyond a culinary classroom.”- Advertisement – last_img read more

Burned out with your job CFCC offering classes in highdemand highpaying fields

first_img If you’re in a job that doesn’t offer the personal satisfaction you desire or you’re looking for a career with higher income potential, this is the time to do a personal self-assessment and determine if there is a class or program you could take to learn a new trade or skills.“One course we are very excited about which stated in the last six months is our Powerline Technician School which prepares candidates through a 10-week, 400-hour course for entry-level jobs into electrical utility,” said John Downing, CFCC’s Dean of Continuing Education.The earning income is exceptional considering the small investment of time spent in the classroom.Related Article: Chef’s legacy lives on with another donation to CFCC Foundation“For the last two classes, 100-percent of the students who completed this training received at least one job offer in the $18-$23 per hour range,” Downing said.The next class begins in April.The phlebotomy course is new to CFCC’s Continuing Education curriculum and requires only 256 classroom hours. Jobs in our area pay in the $15 per hour range.“You get to work with local employers as you practice and there are lots of job opportunities,” Downing said.CFCC’s IT Academy is primarily focused on training individuals to work for companies like Cisco Networking and Cyber Security. Two, 30-hour courses start in mid-February.“It focuses on two hybrid courses on Cisco Networking and Cisco Cybersecurity and are designed for working folks,” Downing said. “You take one class on site and the rest can be performed online.”The school offers a variety of new online courses for working professionals including Project Management, Marketing, and Leed Green Building — all of which begin in mid-February.CFCC also offers community enrichment classes like photography, learning to speak French and homebrewing basics. The college’s mantra is – “Learn a hobby, develop a skill.”Whether you’re in search of a new career or simply looking to refine the ones you already have, CFCC offers a number of courses led by qualified instructors. You can find more details on the college’s website. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to look into a career change in 2019, Cape Fear Community College is offering a number of new courses this spring to help you chart a new course.CFCC’s spring course catalogue offers more than 400 classes you can take as well as a link to over 350 online courses.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Maltese food prices reach highest annual inflation rate in May 2019

first_img <a href=’;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> SharePrint Food prices in May 2019 registered the highest annual inflation rate compared to other prices recorded in other retail groups, new figures show.According to latest assessments from the National Statistics Office, Food prices recorded an almost 5% increase in annual inflation rates in the month of May (4.82%), almost twice the recorded increase seen in housing (2.44%).Food prices were also nearly three times higher than results for Beverages and Tobacco (1.28%) and Transport and Communications (1.72%).Conversely, Clothing and Footwear registered the lowest level of annual inflation at minus 1.61%. However, in terms of monthly inflation rates, this group registered a 3.16% increase in May, considerably higher than the monthly increase across all recorded sectors.Credit: NSOCost of takeaways contribute to annual inflation rateGoing further, NSO identifies that increases in the cost of food take-aways contributed 1.04% to the annual inflation rate in May 2019.Transport and Communications followed this with a 0.38% contribution and Housing with only 0.19%.The remaining groups registered only between 0.05% and 0.10% increases in contributions. Once again, Clothing and footwear was the only group to register a negative contribution to annual inflation.Credit: NSOAccording to the aggregated findings, Food (respective of it % weight) sat at 21.49% for May 2019. Excluding takeaways and restaurants, this accounted for 15.60%, an annual rate of 4.07%. Including them accounted for 5.89% of the aggregate, 6.76% as an annual rate.Transport and Communication narrowly beats Food at 22.10%, Transport 16.57% and Communication 5.53%.Annual rate of inflation steadily increasingNSO also outlines that the annual rate of inflation has been steadily increasing in the last two years. This is despite a slump between the second halves of 2017 and 2018.While inflation was registered as almost 1.75% in January 2017, this began a decline which hit almost 0.80% in March 2018. This is then recorded to steady incline which peaked shot to almost 1.65% in September 2018. While the remainder of 2018 levelled and slightly declined, inflation shot up once more to almost 1.90% in February 2019. For the period to May 2019, this has remained steady at around 1.80%.When examined as an average, the figures show a steady rise from 0.75% in January 2017 to 1.35% in December 2017. This gradually dropped to just over 1.00% in July and August 2018, before rising steeply to May 2019 where the average now sits at just over 1.50%.Credit: NSOWhatsApplast_img read more