Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has

first_imgWork and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has been accused of lying to his own party conference about the success of his campaign to encourage employers to be more “disability confident”.Duncan Smith (pictured) told last year’s conference in Birmingham that more than 1, 000 employers had “signed up” to the Disability Confident campaign, which was launched by the prime minister in the summer of 2013.But a series of freedom of information requests by Disability News Service (DNS) has exposed the truth: that fewer than 400 have signed up, while only 68 are currently “active partners”.It is the latest embarrassing revelation about the campaign, which was launched in July 2013 and aims to “debunk the myths around employing disabled people and encourage employers to take advantage of the wealth of talent available”.Duncan Smith has been criticised for the campaign’s “patronising waffle”, which activists say ignores “institutionalised disability discrimination” at a time when he and other ministers have been smearing disabled benefit claimants as “workshy”.And in July, DNS revealed that the minister for disabled people, Justin Tomlinson, risked ridicule after announcing that Swansea had become the country’s first “Disability Confident City”, even though he was unable to explain why it had been chosen.The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has already admitted – in a press release issued earlier this summer to mark the campaign’s second anniversary – that just 376 organisations had supported Disability Confident since it was launched in July 2013.But even this exaggerated the number of employers that have “signed up” to the campaign.DWP has now confessed that the true number of “active partners” is just 68.And of those 68, at least 33 are disability or diversity organisations, such as Arthritis Care Scotland, Essex Coalition of Disabled People and Mencap.This leaves just 35 mainstream “active partners”, including recruitment and training companies and a small handful of big corporate names such as National Grid, Marks and Spencer, Honda and Asda.When asked in a freedom of information request why ministers claimed that 376 organisations supported the campaign, when a link to the campaign’s partners lists just 68, the department explained that the figure of 376 referred only to those organisations that had supported the campaign at some point since its launch.DWP said in its freedom of information response that the 68 organisations were the campaign’s “most active partners”, those that have “contributed to events, shared stories and case studies, or published their own articles and blogs about work they do to support disabled people into work”.When asked why Duncan Smith had vastly exaggerated the success of his campaign last autumn, the Conservative party refused to comment.But a DWP spokeswoman claimed that the figure of 1,100 referred to the number of “representatives” who showed their support for the campaign by attending a Disability Confident event.She said: “To date, 376 employers have registered to be official supporters of Disability Confident. We are happy to make this clear.”Disabled activists have lined up to criticise Duncan Smith, following the latest revelations.A Disabled People Against Cuts spokeswoman said: “It comes as no surprise that Duncan Smith has been telling porkies yet again.“He has lied about his education, his career, he has misinformed the House of Commons on numerous occasions and regularly makes claims that have been exposed as lies years ago, in media interviews.“We will only be surprised on a day we discover he’s told the truth. DPAC’s own investigation has turned up a number of astonishingly bold outright lies, and we began cataloguing new ones as they appeared, only to find that the workload was too great to keep up.”David Gillon, a disabled activist and blogger, who has been critical of the Disability Confident campaign, said: “It’s worrying when a minister with disabled people’s lives in his hands has so cavalier an approach to the facts.“How can we trust anything he says, when even his statements to his own party ring false?“His entire ministry has been riddled with falsehood, evasion and deliberate distortion ever since he took charge.“Whether it be the figures for fit for work deaths, or claiming overwhelming support for policies disabled people have overwhelmingly rejected, or tabloid tales that 75 per cent of us are faking, DWP clearly takes its cue from its lord and master.“Massively exaggerating claims for Disability Confident support is simply more of the same.”Gillon said the number of Disability Confident supporters was “pathetic”.He said: “Even if we accept the figure of 376 companies associated with Disability Confident in some way (does this simply count every company to have attended an event? I wonder), this is still less than one company every two days over the course of the two years-plus that Disability Confident has been in operation.“You could probably get more expressions of interest just by stopping random passers-by outside DWP HQ.”He said the list of active partners included just one NHS trust, one big high street name, no pharmaceutical giants, one electronics company, and an absence of major recruiters, all of which showed “an astonishing lack of ambition and achievement”.He said: “What are these companies signing up to do? Are they simply expressing an interest? Ticking a box to look good on the Corporate Responsibility section of their annual report? Are they looking for business to come their way?“How many are signing up because they’re in business relationships with DWP? How many are actually doing something positive to challenge workplace discrimination and get disabled people into work in non-token roles?“How many are challenging the status quo to bring forward disabled people as the next generation of leaders and managers? How many are actually confident about disability?”He added: “In the end I’m left bitterly disappointed, as is usual with Disability Confident.“Disabled people face a massive structural problem in accessing employment and it is vital we challenge that, but Disability Confident is failing on every front.“It can’t get employers to sign up, it can’t get disabled people to sign up, and what messages it does put out serve to reinforce the problem, not challenge it, by their insistence on portraying us as ‘inspiring’.”Peter Beresford, co-chair of the national service-user network Shaping Our Lives and professor of social policy at Brunel University, said the figures showed “clear evidence of a senior minister repeatedly telling yet more lies about disabled people and his failed disability policy”.He said: “Iain Duncan Smith must be brought to book and with a new Labour leadership and shadow cabinet it is to be hoped we now have an effective opposition that will commit itself to acting to curtail such shenanigans.”Ian Jones, co-founder of the WOWcampaign, said the failings of Labour’s Positive about Disabled People scheme should have shown politicians that “it is not enough to simply tell people how wonderful disabled people are in the hope it would change attitudes”. He said that Disability Confident was another “chocolate teapot scheme” which would have no impact on closing the disability employment gap, which was “stubbornly fixed at around 30 per cent fewer disabled people (2008-2013) being in work compared to non-disabled people”. He said: “The time for talk and trying to convince people to change has passed. Now is the time for positive action to enable talented disabled people to join a workforce that prejudice actively excludes them from.“Disability Confident is just that, a con, and Iain Duncan Smith implying disabled people are abnormal (on 8 Sept 2015) will not advance the cause of inclusion.”Mark Harrison, chief executive of the user-led organisation Equal Lives, said: “This is a Mickey Mouse scheme from a Mickey Mouse minister.“We need enforceable action for employers who exclude disabled people because of the barriers to employment in their companies.“We don’t need cheap gimmicks – this is just an example of the emperor’s new clothes.”And Pat Onions, founder of Pat’s Petition, said: “We aren’t surprised that so few employers have signed up to Disability Confident.“We have no idea what Disability Confident means and we doubt if employers do.”last_img read more

Young people with learning difficulties are at ris

first_imgYoung people with learning difficulties are at risk of “significant social isolation”, with the risk increasing as they approach adulthood, according to a new report delivered through a ground-breaking research programme.The young people interviewed for the report “unanimously” said they needed practical help, emotional support and communication skills to maintain friendships.Eight young people with learning difficulties were employed and trained to take part as peer researchers for the Young People and Friendships report, which was due to be launched at the Welsh assembly today (Thursday).The peer researchers worked with 85 other young people with learning difficulties who were aged between 14 and 28 and lived in the Gwent region of south-east Wales.All the young people were at significant risk of social isolation and almost all did not see friends outside either structured activities or education settings, with friendships “dependent upon local segregated services”.They faced a “complex web of barriers” to having a full social life, including discrimination within the education system; inaccessible public transport; and difficulties in using communication tools such as mobile phones, with some prevented from using social media by their parents.In some cases, social media and online gaming increased isolation and disconnection with the local neighbourhood, particularly among boys and young men, but it also enabled some friendships to be maintained,About two-thirds of the 85 participants in the research had experienced bullying during the transition years from childhood to adulthood (14 to 25), with most believing they were picked on because they were disabled.One participant in the study said: “Sometimes bad friends upset me, they pull faces at me and I feel like they hate me. They sometimes used to pick on me in school, use bad language.”Another said: “They abuse you, harass you and use you. They put pressure on you and put you in the middle. Boys will fight you and bully you and pretend that it is all a joke.”Participants felt unable to do anything about bullying or hate crime in the local community, other than avoiding certain areas, not going out or only going out with their parents.The report says: “None of the participants wanted to criminalise other young people, but they did want non disabled young people to be better informed about hate crime, respect and [to be] more knowledgeable about disability.”They also wanted it to be easier to report disability hate crime.The report also found that young people with learning difficulties did not have the same opportunities to undertake work experience at the same age as their non-disabled peers.The peer researchers were clear that segregating young disabled people was “morally wrong and creates second class citizens”.One of the peer researchers said: “I feel that being referred to [as] ‘special’… is a derogatory term. But people have got used to it.”Among its conclusions, the report says that health and social care services should do more to fund support for building and maintaining friendships.And it calls for research into the effectiveness of the teaching of independent living skills “as a matter of urgency” because of difficulties highlighted by the research.The research was part of the five-year, £5 million Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning (DRILL) research programme and was led by the Swansea-based social enterprise CARP Collaborations, in partnership with The Building Bridges project.DRILL is funded by the Big Lottery Fund, and delivered by Disability Rights UK, Disability Action (in Northern Ireland), Inclusion Scotland and Disability Wales.It is believed to be the world’s first major research programme led by disabled people and should eventually fund about 40 pieces of research and pilot projects.Picture: One of the events held as part of the researchlast_img read more

The governments Office for Disability Issues is a

first_imgThe government’s Office for Disability Issues is apparently failing to take any action to address “worrying” concerns about disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) that are being forced to close because of funding problems.Earlier this month, two prominent user-led organisations spoke out about the “urgent” need for research into the falling number of DPOs across the country.Shaping Our Lives said it was seeking funding, and partners, for a major piece of research to uncover the scale of the problem, with its own figures suggesting that more than 60 user-led groups that were members of its network had been forced to close since 2014.And Inclusion London, which supports Deaf and disabled people’s organisations across the capital, also raised concerns and said there were now a number of London boroughs without their own DPO.But when asked if the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) was aware of and concerned about the problem, and if it was taking any action, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said it was concerned about closures but failed to suggest any measures it was taking to address the concerns.A DWP spokeswoman said: “The ODI is aware that DPULOs [disabled people’s user-led organisations] close on a fairly frequent basis, and are obviously concerned by this.“The government takes the opportunity to work with them and support their work wherever possible.”But when asked again whether it was taking any action to address the concerns about closures, another DWP spokeswoman said the department had “nothing to add”.Last month, Disability News Service reported that the number of staff working in ODI had plummeted by more than two-thirds under the coalition and Conservative governments.In March 2010, just before the Tory-led coalition came to power, there were the equivalent of 48 full-time staff working in ODI, but there are now just 15, while the ODI website has now not been updated in more than seven months.Professor Peter Beresford (pictured), co-chair of the national service-user network Shaping Our Lives, said it was “reassuring” that ODI was “aware of and ‘concerned’ about the loss of these much-valued organisations”.But he said: “It is very worrying that even though aware of what increasingly looks like a crisis, the [ODI] has no plans or even comment to make in response to the situation.“Given that the ODI was originally established as a central government agency to support the independent living of disabled people and the development of a strong network of disabled people-led organisations, this makes especially troubling reading.“There seems to be no plan A and no plan B. The only plan this government seems to have any confidence in is attacking the welfare rights of disabled people with its much-discredited welfare reform policies.“The loss of DPOs is part of an even bigger crisis facing disabled and older people who are increasingly being denied a voice.”last_img read more

Taser déjà vu Lastditch effort to reverse stungun vote fails

first_imgTaser opponents alleged that they did not receive equal opportunity to speak, as they were not notified that the meeting room had changed. Some, additionally, were locked out of City Hall when the public meeting reconvened. In a unanimous decision, the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force found that these actions placed the Police Commission in violation of the city’s Sunshine Ordinance, raising questions over whether the original 4-3 vote to approve the police department’s use of Tasers was legitimate. “I’m not sure how we sit here and accept the finding that they [the previous commission] violated the Sunshine Ordinance but yet the vote still stands,” said Commissioner Cindy Elias, a board appointee. Commissioner Petra DeJesus, who voted against Tasers in 2017, introduced a motion to both recognize the task force’s ruling and rescind the 2017 vote. This came despite initial resistance from Commission President Bob Hirsch, a mayoral appointee who cast the deciding vote in favor of the stun guns. Hirsch vehemently rejected the findings of the Task Force, arguing that it was the Sheriff’s Deputies doing security — and not the Police Commission — who were responsible for locking some community members out of the meeting. He further argued that the public was properly notified of the room change. “The Sunshine Task Force was incorrect,” he said.Meanwhile, Chief Scott remained silent, sometimes shooting glances to his command staff in the audience.In the end, the motion by DeJesus failed; the commissioners were deadlocked, 3-3. Commissioner Thomas Mazzucco — a mayoral appointee who in 2017 voted in favor of the stun guns — was not present. Wednesday night’s vote was a blow to the handful of activists who turned out and who believed the Task Force’s ruling was a means to keep Tasers out of officers’ hands. That is especially true for activist Magick Altman, who originally filed the grievance with the Task Force in February 2018. “This is heartbreaking to me,” Altman said following the motion’s failure. At moments, the commissioners’ discussion on the merits of the Sunshine ruling — as well as the possibility of rescinding the vote — reverted to the decadeslong debate of whether the SFPD should be armed with Tasers at all. Commissioner DeJesus revived the argument made by many Taser opponents that the stun guns can be hazardous, especially when used on individuals suffering from mental health issues. San Mateo County saw four Taser-related deaths at the hands of law enforcement in 2018 alone, she said. Nevertheless, per the November 2017 decision, the SFPD will not be allowed to use Tasers until December of this year — two years after the SFPD’s use-of-force policy was revised. But it’s unclear whether they’ll get the weapons at that time. In June 2018, the Board of Supervisors blocked the $3 million the department needed to buy the stun guns. In the meantime, the San Francisco Police Department also hasn’t had an officer-involved shooting since June. Chief Bill Scott can sleep well.In a contentious Wednesday-night meeting, the San Francisco Police Commission voted 3-3 not to rescind its previous vote to arm San Francisco Police officers with Tasers. Opponents, and some commissioners, felt that a November 2017 decision on Tasers wasn’t legitimate.Like the Feb. 6 meeting in which three commissioners walked out of City Hall, the proceedings devolved into bickering and exposed the fierce partisanship that divides mayoral appointees from those appointed by the Board of Supervisors. Their votes were divided along those very lines. At issue was a June 2018 ruling by the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, which found that the Police Commission violated city meeting rules during its original Taser vote Nov. 3, 2017. That vote occurred following an emotional six-hour meeting that was paused and subsequently reconvened in another room at City Hall because of raucous crowd behavior. Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newslettercenter_img Email Addresslast_img read more

Belville commissioners say goodbye to two leaders

first_img “I love this town,” said Joe Breault. “I love the opportunities here. I love working with the people we have. This is a very very hard decision.”Former Mayor Pro Tem Joe Breault is leaving for health reasons. He will be moving out-of-state with his family. His departure coming as his colleague Donna Schardien passed away Friday battling cancer.“She was a strong advocate for everything that was happening here in the town. She is going to be sorely missed.”Related Article: Town of Belville plans to appeal H2GO decisionThree new commissioners will govern Belville by the end of this year. Commissioner Pat O’Bryant had to resign in the winter for family reasons. He was replaced by Kent Goodman. Mayor Mike Allen saying the town is in a tight spot but can continue their progress.“Our goals and our projects are already pretty much locked in,” said the Mayor. “But we need those other two board members to function the way a town should function.”He admits it will be hard to regain the momentum of growth Breault and Schardien achieved while on the board. Both commission members spear-headed the town’s most recent major developments in the river walk and the town hall.Allen and the outgoing Breault remain hopeful.“Because we’ve done so much,” said Breault. “Because we’ve restored the civic pride, because now people know Belville, they’re proud to say they’re from Belville which was not the case five or six years ago. I think the opportunity for people to step up will be far greater.”Noreen Slattery was sworn in as the new mayor pro tem and commissioner Goodman will take over as the parks and rec liaison for the commission. 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 BELVILLE, NC (WWAY) – Two seats now sit open on the town of Belville commission.A death and a resignation now leave big holes to fill.Belville leaders tonight met and elected a new mayor pro tem while also having to take a moment in memoriam of another who passed away over the weekend.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Surfs up Ladies take to Wrightsville Beach for annual surf contest

first_img Set up and registration is over on the beach’s south end.The classic is expected to bring in more than 60 girls of various ages.Jo Pickett has coordinated the event for many years under different names and says she looks forward to what it means for these girls.Related Article: Beach season winds down, lifeguards dwindle“There’s a support, even though it’s a competition, there’s a lot of support and a sense of camaraderie,” Pickett said. “The girls all support each other and it’s big hugs and smiles and it doesn’t seem so serious.”The competition begins early Saturday morning near the Oceanic Pier on Wrightsville Beach and will go through Sunday. Wahine Classic Ambassador Kat Neff (top) w/Camden Hoover, Courtesy of Ed Potter WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Girls of all ages are catching some waves this weekend a part of a growing classic surf competition on Wrightsville Beach.This year marks the 6th Annual Wahine Classic.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Black Hawk rescues families from flooded homes

first_img It marks a day filled with hope as Wilmington police say the Black Hawk has been making multiple rescues, mostly from Pender County where families were in desperate need of resources. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Wilmington Police Department was ready with open arms Tuesday when choppers landed at the Hanover Center parking lot with people they had rescued.Emergency vehicles were ready to transport the families directly to local New Hanover shelters.- Advertisement – last_img

Sunset Beach Police search for missing woman

first_imgJacklyn Marie Guy (Photo: Sunset Beach Police) SUNSET BEACH, NC (WWAY) — Police are searching for a missing Sunset Beach woman.According to a Facebook post from the Sunset Beach Police, Jacklyn Marie Guy was last seen Tuesday morning on Great Egret Circle in Sandpiper.- Advertisement – She was last known to be wearing a red shirt, black yoga pants and grey shoes with lime green accents.She may be in the Myrtle Beach area, police say.If you know any information, you are asked to call Sunset Beach Police at (910) 579-6297.last_img read more

Man arrested for attempted murder in Boiling Spring Lakes

first_img According to a news release, the charges stem from a stabbing on Crabapple Road in Boiling Spring Lakes on August 8.Boiling Spring Lakes Police enlisted the assistance of the U. S. Marshall’s service in locating Holmes.Police say after an exhaustive search, they found Holmes at a home in Boiling Spring Lakes.Related Article: Man goes to prison for trying to meet Pender County girl for sexOfficers from Boiling Spring Lakes Police Department, Oak Island Police Department and the U. S. Marshall’s service arrived at the residence and took  Holmes into custody without incident.Holmes made his first appearance in court this morning and is being held at the Brunswick County Detention Center under a one million dollar bond. BOILING SPRING LAKES, NC (WWAY) — A 33-year-old man is in the Brunswick County Detention Center charged with attempted murder.On Thursday, Boiling Spring Lakes Police arrested William Leon Holmes, Jr.- Advertisement – last_img read more

List of top 10 best barbecue spots in North Carolina

first_img Southern Smoke BBQ on Warren Street in Garland was ranked 5th.Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge in Shelby took the top spot.A panel of experts partnered with 10-best editors to pick the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.Related Article: Dog helps disabled kids surfCongratulations to all the winning restaurants! Two area bbq restaurants in the running for USA Today’s 10Best (Photo: MeMa’s Chick’n & Ribs, Southern Smoke BBQ/USA Today) PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — USA Today’s top ten list for best barbecue in North Carolina has been revealed and two of the top ten are right here in our area.MeMa’s Chick’n & Ribs on Highway 117 North in Burgaw came in 8th. They say after two years in business in a small town they are very proud to be recognized.- Advertisement – last_img read more