Hundreds or even thousands of disabled people are so alarmed by the idea of Britain leaving the European Union (EU) that they are considering moving to Scotland, information from disabled activists suggests.One disabled campaigner has told Disability News Service (DNS) that she has been contacted personally by 70 disabled people who want to leave for Scotland in the wake of last week’s referendum result, in which Britain voted to leave the EU by a margin of 52 per cent to 48 per cent.Pat Onions (pictured), co-founder of Pat’s Petition, who lives in Scotland, said disabled people had been in touch by text, phone, email and on Facebook.She said: “Scotland wants to remain in the EU. They felt their human rights would be protected. They felt it was a safer country to live then England.“They felt Tories would remain in power after Brexit even with a general election in the autumn [and that] no-one in England cares about people with disabilities anymore.”She added: “Feelings amongst disabled people are running high. They are scared – more than before with such uncertainty. Scotland seems like a safe place to be.”Two other disabled campaigners have separately told DNS that they want to move north of the border, in the hope that Scotland will vote for independence and join the EU as an independent nation.Doug Paulley has played a leading role in using the legal system to fight disability discrimination in England, and is currently awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on whether disabled people should have priority in using the wheelchair space on buses.He is so concerned at the loss of safeguards that are currently provided by EU legislation that he is considering a move north of the Scottish border.Paulley, who lives in Wetherby, Yorkshire, said: “I’m not sure I want to be part of a country that has lost all its safeguards for disabled people’s rights and is already victimising disabled people.”He said the government was already “fairly openly hostile to disabled people” and was “making them pay for austerity”, and that an EU exit would mean a “significant loss of protection” on independent living and equality.He said: “We don’t know how much worse it’s going to be. Being in Europe could have been protecting us from things being even worse than they already are.”Paulley said he saw Scotland as a “safe environment”, and even if there was a delay in it joining the EU, he said he would “rather be in a country that is wanting to be in the EU than one that is isolationist”.He insists he is serious about the idea, although he accepts the difficulty of transferring his care package from one part of the UK to another.He said: “I don’t want to do anything too quickly because I wouldn’t want to do anything based purely on the shock [of the EU vote] but in reality as a disabled person you can’t anyway, so it will take a while to research and organise, [but] I am definitely starting.”Martin Kelly, founder and chief executive of the Disability Experts consultancy, said he too was considering a move to Scotland.He said: “My wife is Scottish and is keen to return following the result and I’m not against the idea either.“We said we would look into moving to Scotland if the vote was to leave. This is because we want to be member of the EU, we feel we have the protection of EU laws as people with disabilities.“I was devastated by the result because I don’t feel as protected as I used to.“I’m concerned that our human rights will be altered and I’m concerned that any progress we have made since the Disability Discrimination Act and the Equality Act will be undone by an autonomous government.”John McArdle, co-founder of the user-led grassroots network Black Triangle, which is based in Scotland, said: “I have had a lot of people express that opinion.“I don’t know whether it means they will just pack up and move north.”But he said the referendum had “hardened people’s fears and sense of insecurity”.He said: “The feeling is that people are terrified that there has been such a right-wing shift in British politics because of Brexit.”He said this had led to a rise in hate crime, which had affected disabled people who were being blamed for claiming benefits and causing the country’s financial problems.McArdle said: “People look north to us and see a lack of any of that and all this hatred and division and see broadly speaking [in Scotland] social solidarity.“That’s what is making people feel they would prefer to live in a country like Scotland rather than England, with the way things are going.”He said he believed that some disabled people would move north, but for a combination of reasons and not just the Brexit vote.He said: “This may just be a tipping point.”McArdle said one reason could be the Scottish government’s move to set up its own Independent Living Fund, following the closure of the fund in England last year, and new wide-ranging powers for the Scottish government to control benefits such as disability living allowance and personal independence payment, as a result of the Scotland Act.Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, pledged in her party’s manifesto for this year’s Scottish parliament elections that an SNP government would “protect disability benefits” and “reform assessment procedures to ensure they work for service users, and stop the revolving door of assessments and related stress and anxiety for those with long-term illnesses, disabilities or conditions”.
Month: July 2019
A wheelchair-user has successfully tested a system that allows an unoccupied car to be parked after its driver has left the vehicle, using technology that could be publicly available within a year.The organisations developing the system, demonstrated in the last few days at a hotel in Greenwich, London, believe it could make life far easier for drivers who are wheelchair-users, who often find it difficult to secure suitable parking spaces.The system allows a driver to stop, remove themselves and their wheelchair from the car, and then use the technology to park the unoccupied vehicle remotely.It was tested by freelance mobility consultant Toby Veall (pictured), who drove to the hotel, before leaving the Toyota Prius and removing his wheelchair, and calling up the support of an operator to park his vehicle for him remotely, using 3G and 4G cellular technology developed by telecommunications provider O2.For locations like underground carparks that don’t have cellular reception, the wheelchair-user can park the vehicle using an app on a tablet device, using in-car wi-fi.Veall said the system had huge potential for increasing disabled people’s independence.He said: “I think it’s a really exciting prospect for the future, and hopefully it is sooner rather than later.”One of the main problems facing drivers who use wheelchairs is finding a suitable parking space, he said.This can be because other cars park too close – particularly when there are no accessible spaces available – so the doors cannot be opened wide enough to allow a wheelchair to be removed or stowed, or due to uneven surfaces like gravel or grass, and hazards such as steep kerbs or slopes.Veall said: “The use of a simple app to remotely park the car would be warmly welcomed by myself and many others with mobility problems and help to remove parking anxieties and improve independence.“The more I think about it, the more potential uses I can think of.”The “teleoperated autonomous vehicle service for people with reduced mobility” has been developed as part of the GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) project.The two-year, £8 million research programme, led by TRL (the formerly government-owned transport research laboratory) and funded by government and industry – including O2 and robotics specialists Gobotix – aims to investigate the use of automated vehicles, including automated passenger shuttles and urban deliveries, and test how drivers of regular vehicles respond to the presence of automated vehicles on the roads.Dr Ben Davis, technical director of Gobotix, said: “Everybody is waiting for the arrival of fully automated vehicles, but there’s a lot that vehicle manufacturers can be doing already with existing technology to help improve accessibility and mobility for older and disabled drivers.“Many modern cars can be adapted so that they are driveable by a remote pilot and what we’ve demonstrated as part of GATEway is proof of that. “By offering a remote teleoperation service, we can remove common concerns around boarding and alighting.“It’s about empowering those with reduced mobility to retain independence through the use of technology.”He said the system could be available to disabled drivers within a year.He said: “The technology is inherently simple to install.“In fact, in a lot of vehicles they probably wouldn’t have to add anything to the vehicle apart from the software that enables this to be possible.“If the appetite among the automotive manufacturers was there, there is no reason why this couldn’t be available to consumers within 12 months.”
Disabled people who employ personal assistants (PAs) are being investigated by the government for failing to pay their PAs the minimum wage during overnight “sleep-in” shifts.HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has admitted to Disability News Service (DNS) that individual PA employers have been investigated, just like large service-providers such as Mencap.The government has publicly warned – following a high-profile tribunal ruling involving the charity – that many care workers should have been paid at least the minimum wage for the hours when they were sleeping on an overnight shift.Many of them should now be able to claim for up to six years back-pay.But the revelation that individual disabled people who use PAs are also being pursued by HMRC for years of back-pay is now beginning to cause alarm in the independent living movement.In April, the employment appeal tribunal ruled against Mencap and said the charity should have been paying care workers at least the minimum wage for “sleep-ins”.Mencap is now appealing against the ruling.The government took some action to try to calm fears about the impact on the care industry of the ruling yesterday (Wednesday) by temporarily suspending enforcement activity by HMRC – until 2 October – and scrapping fines for those who failed to pay sleep-in staff the minimum wage before 26 July 2017.But the government statement also made it clear that it was committed to ensuring that “workers in this sector” would receive the back-pay “they are legally entitled to”.And HMRC has today (Thursday) confirmed to DNS that it has been taking enforcement action against some individual disabled employers for allegedly failing to pay their PAs the minimum wage on overnight sleep-in shifts.One such employer has contacted DNS to say she is being investigated by HMRC because of a complaint from a PA about back-pay dating back three years, although she has not yet provided any further details.Sue Bott, deputy chief executive of Disability Rights UK (DR UK), said she had heard from two other disabled people who employ PAs and have been under investigation by HMRC.She was contacted after raising concerns through the DR UK website that PA employers could be caught by the tribunal ruling.She said the tribunal appeal ruling could have “far-reaching consequences” if it was confirmed by the court of appeal.Bott (pictured) said: “You can imagine the difficulty it will cause individual employers.“I do think it’s right that PAs are paid the national minimum wage for each hour.“In principle, I do think that’s right, but obviously I am concerned given the lack of resources in health and social care and how difficult it would be for individual employers to respond to a retrospective demand.”She believes the problem of PA employers not paying the minimum wage for sleep-in hours was “pretty common”.She said: “People just don’t receive enough money in their personal budgets to be able to pay national minimum wage for every overnight hour.”A government spokesman said today: “HMRC enforces the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage in line with the policy and guidance set out by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.“The government is aware that people who have used their direct payments to fund sleep-in shifts could be personally liable for back-pay.“These people are themselves extremely vulnerable, and the government is committed to doing all it can to prevent those individuals from suffering financial difficulties as a result of this issue.“We can confirm that the pause in HMRC investigations will apply to these individuals as well as to businesses, and that HMRC will not be applying penalties.“The particular needs of this group will also be the subject of government considerations over summer.“The government will continue to look at this issue extremely carefully alongside industry representatives to see how it might be possible to minimise any impact on provision of social care, and ensure that action taken to protect workers is fair and proportionate.”There is so far no agreement among independent living experts as to whether PA employers themselves would ultimately be liable legally for any back-pay.Anne Pridmore, director of Being the Boss, a user-led organisation which supports disabled people who employ PAs, and who employs overnight PAs herself, said she was deeply concerned by the tribunal ruling and the government statement.She said she believed that “the buck stops with us” as employers of PAs, even if local authorities or clinical commissioning groups have not been paying enough in care packages to afford to pay minimum wage for overnight hours.She should be safe herself from any action by HMRC, as her current package allows her to pay more than minimum wage as an average hourly payment across her PAs’ 24-hour shifts.But she fears that when the national minimum wage rises again in October, she will no longer be able to do so. Her care package has not been increased in nine years.She said: “At the moment I am within the law, but from October I won’t be. There are many of us in the same position.”Tracey Jannaway, director of the PA services social enterprise Independent Living Alternatives, said she believed the responsibility for meeting the back-pay would probably fall on the council or NHS body that funded the personal assistance, rather than the PA employer.She said the legal system had previously found the funding body responsible for ensuring that PA employers had the resources necessary to meet all their legal obligations, such as the minimum wage, national insurance, pension payments and insurance.Jannaway said it was “highly probable” that this would apply to PA employers and sleep-ins, but that it would probably take a legal test case to confirm this.She said years of conflicting rulings on night-time pay had left many people with their “heads in the sand”.And she said if the ruling was extended to “all people doing sleep-ins or indeed all live-in workers the implications will be far reaching and hard hitting” because “very few” people receive the necessary funding to pay for hour-by-hour overnight personal assistance.Even if local authorities and NHS bodies are found responsible for the night shift back-pay of PA employers, the financial implications will be “colossal” and probably “result in people having their hours reduced” because of the existing social care funding crisis.Jannaway added: “It does seem unreasonable to pay someone an hourly rate if they are genuinely doing a sleep-in where they are only ever woken in an emergency – say once or twice a year.“It would be better for HMRC to agree what is the reasonable sum for this work. However, those people who really do work the sleep-in are entitled to be paid.“At ILA, we argue for the hourly rate for night cover. However, some local authorities simply will not/cannot fund it.”
The number of inspectors working for the care watchdog has fallen sharply over the last year, according to new figures obtained by Disability News Service (DNS).From October 2016 to October 2017, the number of inspectors employed by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) across health and social care in England fell by 89.Most of this fall was caused by a drop in the number of CQC adult social care inspectors, who carry out inspections of services such as residential homes, day centres and home care agencies, and which fell from 850 to 787 (a fall of 63, or seven per cent).The number of CQC inspectors working on inspections of GP surgeries and hospitals fell from 605 to 579 over the same period (a fall of four per cent).The figures were provided to DNS in response to a freedom of information request.Three months ago, DNS reported how more than 300 residential care homes for younger disabled adults had not been inspected by the care watchdog for more than two years.Those figures, also released by CQC in response to a freedom of information request, showed that 87 care homes in England had not had an inspection since 2014, while 10 homes had not had an inspection for between three and four years.Asked about the latest figures showing the fall in the number of inspectors, a CQC spokeswoman said: “We are committed to making sure that as the quality regulator, we are as effective and efficient as we can and should be.“While we haven’t had to make people redundant, in some places we have an ‘older’ workforce, which means people are retiring and we are not always recruiting to the same areas as we resource areas dependent on risk.“We continually monitor our resources and recruitment activities*.”She added: “We have inspected and rated every adult social care service that was registered on or before October 2014, many more than once.“In particular, we have prioritised our re-inspections on where we have the greatest concerns about quality and safety.“Our strategy signals how we intend to do this further, as part of our wider plans for the regulation of this sector in England.“This is so that we can ensure that people receive safe, high-quality and compassionate care, and so that we can encourage improvement.”Last month, DNS reported how one of the organisations employed by CQC to recruit current and former service-users to assist CQC inspectors was failing to make some of the most basic background checks on its recruits.Undercover reporters discovered that Remploy failed to ask for references for potential new recruits to the Experts by Experience programme, and also failed to carry out face-to-face interviews.*CQC has a web page for those interested in working as adult social care inspectors
The public “tit for tat” row between the government and Motability has intensified after senior figures in the organisation and the minister for disabled people gave evidence to MPs.The Treasury and work and pensions select committees are holding a joint inquiry following political and media criticism of how the car scheme for disabled people is run.Following the evidence sessions on Monday, the committees have asked the National Audit Office (NAO) to investigate the scheme.Sarah Newton, the minister for disabled people, suggested during one of the evidence sessions that letters she would release to the committee would show that Lord Sterling, the Tory peer who co-founded the scheme more than 40 years ago, was wrong to accuse work and pensions secretary Esther McVey of making a series of untrue and misleading statements about the scheme to MPs last month.Lord Sterling – who also gave evidence to the committees on Monday – had said in his letter that McVey was wrong to claim that it had been her intervention as minister for disabled people in 2013 that led to Motability agreeing to pass £175 million to former disability living allowance (DLA) claimants who were going to lose their Motability vehicles in the programme to be reassessed for the new personal independence payment (PIP).The committees also suggested that they might use their report to call on the government to allow rival organisations to set up as competitors to Motability, which they said might drive down the price paid by disabled people to lease vehicles through the scheme.Newton said the level of pay and bonuses received by executives of Motability Operations (MO), which runs the scheme on behalf of the Motability charity*, was “quite shocking” and there were “serious questions” to be asked about its governance, including the level of its financial reserves.She said ministers had repeatedly challenged MO about the level of reserves and remuneration and asked it to spend more “to the benefit of disabled people”.But she said that no-one had raised any problems with her – since she became minister last year – about the service Motability provides to disabled people, and she believed it worked well for its customers.Referring to Lord Sterling’s letter to McVey, Newton said it was “really sad to have this public tit for tat” and she promised to provide the committee with letters sent by ministers to Motability in 2012 and 2013.She said: “I have read the correspondence and it sets beyond doubt that the department really pushed Motability to increase the amount of funding to support people through the transitional [DLA to PIP] arrangements.”She added: “The letters speak for themselves.”Newton said McVey had suggested that one of the outcomes of an NAO inquiry could be to examine if there should be more competition for Motability, if that was “to the benefit of disabled people”.MPs on the two committees had earlier questioned senior figures from both MO and the charity that oversees the scheme, Motability.Among the MPs asking questions was Labour’s John Mann, whose concerns about the scheme have helped raise the profile of issues around its governance, but who was himself criticised in Lord Sterling’s letter to McVey.Mann suggested that Motability was “a very good scheme that has now become rather bloated” and that because running the Motability scheme was very low risk, MO did not need such high levels of reserves, currently at £2.4 billion.Mike Betts, chief executive of MO, said his organisation did face significant risks, including the fact that a one per cent drop in the value of used cars can cost MO about £50 million.Betts (pictured, giving evidence) defended the sums held in reserve, which he said helped keep down how much money it has to pay to borrow money to buy its new cars, and was invested in the cars used by its customers rather than in cash.He said that MO also currently holds about £540 million in cash, but that the company needs this because it spends £300 million a month buying cars.But Mann said that written advice he had received from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) stated that it would not expect an organisation like MO to keep £2.4 billion in reserves to cover risk**.Lord Sterling, who chairs the Motability charity, insisted that disabled people “receive every spare penny”, but “only when we think it is safe to do so” and as a result of “the two boards [working] carefully together”.Declan O’Mahony, director of the charity, said the two organisations “see this as a period of elevated risk” – because of uncertainties about future interest and exchange rates and levels of depreciation on diesel cars – and so it was “not a time when we see an opportunity to transfer further reserves immediately” from MO to the charity (and therefore to disabled customers).The committee heard – as reported by Disability News Service last month – that the reassessment of Motability customers who had been receiving DLA for the new PIP had led to 75,000 disabled people losing their eligibility to stay on the scheme and having to return their vehicles, out of 175,000 who had been reassessed so far.Betts said MO had made profits of about £129.6 million in 2016 and £212.7 million 2017, although profits are invested back into the company.When asked whether MO should be making higher donations to the charity Motability, he said these payments would increase – now it had achieved a sufficient level of reserves – but it was too soon to say by how much because it would depend on the next year’s profits.When Frank Field, chair of the work and pensions committee, asked why MO was not donating more to the Motability charity, Neil Johnson, MO’s chair, said: “We are very happy to make charitable donations, providing we can see the sustainability of the scheme,” but he said there were “some real concerns in the car market at the moment”.But the former Tory MP Charlie Elphicke – currently an independent MP, after being suspended from the Conservative party because of an ongoing police inquiry – said he could not see why MO did not make an immediate donation of “£100 million-plus” to the charity.The committees also discussed the large salary and bonuses that have been paid to MO executives, particularly Betts, who received £1.7 million in one year.Field told Betts that “a large, large, large amount has gone into your pocket” and asked him about his “extraordinary rewards”.Betts said: “I had no role in setting my own pay. I had a mandate to transform the business.“That has happened and the reward has been for success. The customers are the beneficiaries of that transformation.”When Field asked how they would feel about the two committees recommending that NAO carry out an inquiry into how the scheme was run, Lord Sterling said the charity would welcome a review so “the issues raised could be put to rest once and for all”, while Johnson said MO would also welcome an inquiry because “the air needs clearing”.Nicky Morgan, chair of the Treasury committee, pointed out that, while Motability did not receive any direct funding from the government, its business was reliant on DWP payments of disability benefits, while it also received “significant” VAT and insurance tax concessions.Morgan said: “From the evidence I have heard, I don’t understand quite the corporate governance arrangements between the company, the scheme and the charity, and that alone means the NAO on behalf of parliament and the committees should be asked to conduct an inquiry into this.”Morgan and Field have now written to NAO, asking it to carry out such an investigation.*The charity Motability is a DNS subscriber**The committees subsequently published the letter, which also said that “as the firm is required to have sufficient financial resources to meet their liabilities as they fall due, we would expect the senior management of the firm to assess the adequacy of their resources in the context of their size, risk profile, complexity of regulated activities, strategy and circumstances”.
One of the officers said they did not want the situation to blow up as too many police were needed a couple of blocks away in the Castro.By 9:45 p.m., all that was left in the park was a field of trash. Broken bottles, smashed cans and soggy and empty six packs littered the park’s northern slope and field.A half-dozen or so recyclers picked there way through the garbage. A park employee still on site said he had only been there this morning picking up trash. “They don’t care,” he said of the people who use the park.Earlier this month, Sarah Madland, director of policy and public affairs, talked to Mission Local about changing the culture of the park. The idea is to have “taking out the trash” become an element of any day in Dolores Park – just as it is at Burning Man or the Outside Lands festival, she said explaining the strategy.That, however, did not happen on Sunday.Officers formed a perimeter around the party. Photo by Lydia ChávezBy 9:45 p.m. or so officers had moved the party off the park. Photo by Lydia ChávezOne slope on the north side of the park. Photo by Lydia ChávezField on the south side of Dolores Park. Photo by Lydia ChávezA recycler picking up bottles. Photo by Lydia Chávez 0% Pride weekend ended at Dolores Park Sunday night with no life threatening injuries, but two incidents – an assault with a bottle and a party that triggered the arrival of two dozen police officers.The assault took place at about 9 p.m. on the southwest corner of Dolores and 18th streets. Two sisters from Ireland and some friends had been sitting on the sidewalk trying to find their Clipper cards when they were approached by a group of young people who asked for a pen, one of the sisters said. They didn’t have one – a response that led one person in the group to hit one of the sisters over the head with a bottle.The young woman declined to be treated by the Fire Department officers on the scene and was not bleeding, but, like her sibling, was shaken by the assault.Meanwhile in the far northwest corner of the park near the bathrooms, some two dozen officers, six on motorcycles, surrounded a group of young revelers. One of the officers said they were called after a fight broke out, but no one had been arrested. The officer said they turned the music off, and for 45 minutes they waited patiently at a distance until the crowd dispersed. Tags: dolores park • Pride Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%
0% Mission Eyes heads out to Brava’s new Cabaret space and talks to the folks from Loco Bloco and Jamestown Community Center at their new event, the Mission Prom. Tags: mission eyes Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%
Cutler is the Navassa officer who said he was sitting in his patrol car on April 16 when he said someone shot at him. The bullet went through the car and his laptop. His attorney admitted Cutler fired the shots.After the shooting, Cutler went through rounds of interviews and a polygraph. His attorney said he eventually confessed.Cutler’s attorney says this was “out of character” and he “broke” because he was going through a breakup, along with other stress.Related Article: Murder trial begins for Wilmington boat shop ownerHis attorney said Cutler is seeing a psychiatrist and has symptoms of PTSD and depression and is currently on medication. She also said Navassa Police Chief supports Cutler.The state argued that town, county and SBI resources were used to hunt for the alleged shooter and that Cutler told lie after lie.Cutler pleaded no contest. The state asked for supervised probation.The judge continued judgement until June 29. Until then, Cutler must continue to see his doctor and take medication for PTSD, but there’s no guarantee he will get supervised probation at that time.Navassa Police Chief Preston Howell says Cutler was placed on administrative leave on the day of the incident and then terminated from the police department on May 9. BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A Navassa Police Officer staged a shooting last year because of stress in his personal life and on the job.That’s what the attorney for Thomas Cutler revealed in court today. Cutler is charged with filing a false police report and obstructing justice.- Advertisement –
Rakeen Brown spoke to WWAY in 2014 after his brother was killed. (Photo: WWAY) BURGAW, NC (WWAY) — The man shot and killed in Burgaw also lost his brother to violence four years ago.Burgaw Police confirm this appears to be their shooting victim Rakeem Brown.- Advertisement – WWAY spoke with Brown in 2014 the day after his brother Raequan Rouse was accidentally shot and killed by fellow gang members in Wilmington.Police say Brown was shot Monday while walking in the area of Satchwell and Bodenheimer streets.Brown died at the hospital.Related Article: Ex-CDC director Frieden accused of groping woman’s buttocksIf you know anything, call Burgaw Police.
The exhibit will remain in city hall until mid-April. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington City Hall is playing host to a statewide exhibit showcasing the men and women of the Tar Heel state during war time.The Sister Cities Association hosted retired Lieutenant Colonel Cy Harrington III to speak about the state’s role in World War I during a presentation Monday at city hall.- Advertisement –