The minister for disabled people misled a Commons

first_imgThe minister for disabled people misled a Commons committee about the government’s pledge to halve the disability employment gap… less than two minutes after she began giving evidence.Penny Mordaunt (pictured) began speaking to the work and pensions select committee at 4.18pm on Monday by confirming her name and ministerial duties, but by 4.20pm she was claiming – in response to a question from Labour MP Neil Coyle – that the government had never set a target date for halving the gap.Mordaunt should have known that was not true because just 11 days earlier she had been in the House of Commons chamber when Labour MP Stephen Timms pointed out that a press release issued by her department last year had stated that the government “aims to halve the gap between the disabled employment rate and the overall employment rate by 2020”.The pledge had also been included in the party’s 2015 general election manifesto, which stated that the next Conservative government would “aim to halve the disability employment gap”.It was a pledge repeated by the prime minister in one of the general election television debates.Despite being present on 17 November, in an otherwise nearly-empty Commons chamber, when Timms drew attention to the press release – subsequently highlighted by Disability News Service (DNS) – Mordaunt told the committee this week that the pledge “didn’t have a specific time commitment at the end of it”.She added: “I know a couple of MPs have suggested it was a 2020 target. It was clearly not a 2020 target.”While Mordaunt continued to give her evidence, DNS contacted Coyle via social media, and included a link to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) press release.Coyle then told Mordaunt about the press release, and said: “With respect, you said the department never had that commitment. That is false.”She replied: “That is my understanding. The press release you refer to I have not been able to find.“It just isn’t a manifesto target. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to do it.”Coyle later tweeted: “@johnpringdns thanks for the link. Apparently Minister @PennyMordauntMP couldn’t find it & no #DWP official could either. Rather worrying…”Asked later if the minister would apologise for misleading MPs, a DWP spokeswoman said: “As mentioned in the Conservative manifesto, the government aims to halve the disability employment gap and is taking action to do so but there was never a firm commitment to achieve this by 2020.“It is been widely recognised that this is a bold and challenging target and the previous minister for disabled people’s press release makes clear that this is an aim – rather than a commitment.”It is not the first time Mordaunt has been criticised for misleading MPs.In October, she told the Commons that under personal independence payment – compared with disability living allowance, which it is replacing for working-age claimants – “more people are entitled to use the Motability scheme”.But Motability’s own figures show that of their customers who have been reassessed for PIP so far, 44 per cent have lost their entitlement to the scheme and have had to return their vehicles.Mordaunt made it clear in her evidence to the committee this week that measuring the disability employment gap should no longer be the government’s focus, because any measurement would “not be meaningful for a number of years”.She was further embarrassed during the session – which was taking evidence for the committee’s inquiry into the disability employment gap – when fellow Tory MP Richard Graham raised doubts about the Disability Confident events for employers being hosted by MPs around the country.He said he and other MPs had held “very helpful” Disability Confident events in their constituencies.But he added: “You get lots of employers who sign a board, a photograph is taken, a press release is issued, people go away with a warm and fuzzy feeling, but it’s about how many of them actually go away and do something.“When I have sent emails to all of those who have signed, asking them to give me chapter and verse on how many people with disabilities they have subsequently employed, the ones who respond are the ones who were already doing this beforehand and they have done a bit more, but the ones who signed it because they felt it was a good idea… on the whole don’t really come back.“This leads me to suspect that not a great deal has really happened.”Mordaunt said DWP had now relaunched Disability Confident and that it now had some “teeth”, because those employers that reach the highest level of “Disability Confident Leader” need to be “independently audited”.She said that employers often need a “real business reason” to take action, and so the permanent secretaries of every government department had signed up to the scheme and would give preference to Disability Confident Leaders when awarding contracts.She said: “If you want to win a government contract and you’re not a Disability Confident Leader, you stand less chance of winning that contract.”The government’s latest figures show just 13 employers across the country have achieved Disability Confident Leader status.Meanwhile, figures obtained by Disability News Service through a freedom of information request suggest that Graham’s concerns could be justified.For the eight months from December 2015 to July 2016, about 100 employers a month were registering interest in the Disability Confident scheme, but an average of only 13 every month expressed a wish to be contacted by Jobcentre Plus to discuss their recruitment needs or how to support a disabled employee.In July this year, just four employers across the entire country asked for such advice.last_img read more

SAINTS are delighted to have signed big Tongan int

first_imgSAINTS are delighted to have signed big Tongan international second rower Atelea Vea for the next two seasons.The 27-year-old joins from London Broncos for 2015 and 2016 and has an ‘option’ for the following season.He made his first-grade debut for Cronulla in 2009, before moving to Melbourne Storm in 2011 and St George-Illawarra a year later.The 6ft, 16 stone forward was then picked up by the Broncos in 2014 and has led the way in making more than 1,150 metres and busting nearly 40 tackles.Atelea, who was born in Sydney, said: “I had offers from many different clubs but once I spoke to Mike Rush and Nathan Brown, and had the chance to view Langtree Park and the training facilities, I felt it was the right fit for me.“Saints have a nice culture and environment and that attracted me to sign.“I played against Saints not too long ago and liked the feeling of the place even though we lost. The crowd were very vocal and it felt like somewhere I would like to be.“I’m looking forward to playing in front of those fans and getting them on my side.”He continued: “I want to come there, play my own game and hopefully the fans will embrace me.”Saints Head Coach Nathan Brown added: “Atelea had a lot of interest throughout Super League and we are pleased he decided to join the Saints.“He is a similar player to Willie Manu in the fact he is quite robust, has good feet and speed and can use the ball well.“He has the ability to play before and in the line and will be a great addition to our squad.”London Broncos head coach Joey Grima said: “I’ve been liaising with Mike Rush and Nathan Brown and while we’re disappointed to be losing a player of Tils’ ability and professionalism, I would never stop anyone wanting to play Super League, given where we are at the moment.“Tils has been an ultimate professional to me and personal friend. He accepted my invitation by coming over to play for the London Broncos and I wish him and his partner all the best for St Helens.“I know the type of person St Helens are going to get and they couldn’t have picked anyone better than him.”last_img read more

They both preview this weeks trip to Warrington

first_imgThey both preview this week’s trip to Warrington. Audio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.last_img

Wilmington City Hall repairs complete

first_imgCast iron modillion removed from City Hall (Photo: City of Wilmington) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A $600,000 repair project at Thalian Hall/Wilmington City Hall has now finished.The project to repair architectural accents began in October. It involved removing and repairing the modillions – a decorative supporting bracket – and repairing sections of the roof, soffit and gutters that had deteriorated.- Advertisement – More than 130 modillions decorate the top of the historic building, many of them dating back to when the building was originally constructed in the 1860s.The originals were made of cast iron and weigh about 60 pounds each. They were cleaned, repaired and repainted by hand and then reattached to the building. Tin modillions that had been placed on the building at a later date were replaced with new cast iron modillions, along with a few of the originals that had to be replaced.last_img read more

River Road to close near RiverLights next week for bridge repairs

first_imgBridge on River Road near RiverLights that needs repairs (Photo: Justin McKee/WWAY) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A heads up to drivers who use River Road in Wilmington. A section of the road near RiverLights will be closed starting next week.According to the city, RiverLights developer Newland Communities will conduct repairs on a bridge between Endurance Trail and Olde Towne Street.- Advertisement – River Road will be closed to through traffic from Lorraine Drive to Independence Boulevard.The detour routes are Independence Boulevard to Carolina Beach Road on the north side of the closure and Sanders Road to Carolina Beach Road on the south side.Local traffic can access Marina Village in RiverLights from Independence Boulevard.Related Article: HURRICANE FLORENCE: Wilmington area road closuresThe StarNews reports that the two year old bridge has cracks in its concrete, prompting the repairs.The closure will begin Monday and that section of River Road will not reopen until March 25.last_img read more

Surf City man allegedly contacts minor for prostitution services

first_imgSam Snowdon allegedly contacts minor for prostitution services (Photo: PCSO) PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A Surf City man is facing charges including soliciting prostitution of a minor.Surf City Police Chief Ron Shanahan said Sam Snowdon, 60, was arrested and jailed Tuesday for charges of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor, Soliciting Prostitution of a Minor and Advancing Prostitution of a Minor.- Advertisement – Chief Shanahan said Snowdon contacted a minor for prostitution services during April in Surf City.Snowdon is in the Pender County Jail under a $150,000 secured bond.The investigation is on-going.last_img

Proposal to replace campus police with Brunswick County deputies

first_imgBOLIVIA, NC (WWAY) — Brunswick Community College is taking the steps to amp up their security. Officials are proposing to replace BCC Police with deputies from the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office.“We did feel like there was a need for heightened security, more training, more drills like we have with the sheriff’s office. But at this point, we felt like it was time,” said Brunswick Community College President Susanne Adams.- Advertisement – The Brunswick Community College Police Chief is retiring after 35 years at the college. The proposal is years in the making and Adams says that with the chief retiring, opportunity knocked.“We feel like with the climate today and the need for enhanced safety and security with our academic institutions, we really want to leverage the power, if you will, of the sheriff’s office to make sure that we keep our campus safe,” said Adams.If BCC’s Board of Trustees and Brunswick County Commissioners approve the proposal, four full-time and two part-time Brunswick County Sheriff Deputies will replace campus police. Adams says these deputies would bring a higher level of training and expertise.Related Article: Deputies looking for missing Brunswick teen last seen leaving for school“I don’t think it would hurt at all. A larger police presence wouldn’t hurt us at all. But I don’t necessarily think it’s needed,” said Lukas McCuiston, who has been attending BCC for several years.McCuiston says he has always felt safe on campus, but he thinks this would be a nice change. Adams says the opportunity will not come at a major cost either. She says the county already has a budget for BCC Police, so instead, this money would go to the Sheriff’s Office.“It’s really is a no-brainer. It’s an opportunity for us to really garner the kind of expertise that our sheriff’s office has. And it really will not cost us any more,” said Adams.As for campus police who will be out of a job, they can apply for jobs with the sheriff’s office. The college will also allocate $30,000 a year of state funding to this proposal. The BCC Board of Trustees will vote on the proposal tonight and the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners will vote Monday.last_img read more

Deadly shots fired as kids celebrate nearby at backtoschool cookout

first_img New Hanover County Schools says Alderman Elementary and Myrtle Grove Middle School were having a cookout for students and their families who live at Houston Moore.New Hanover County Schools Superintendent Tim Markley posted a photo on Twitter of the cookout around 2:15 p.m.Alderman and Myrtle Grove hosting a back to school cookout at Houston Moore!— Tim Markley (@tsmarkley) August 16, 2018Related Article: Worker slain at inn loved to cook, aspired to own restaurantThe school system said that shots were fired two block away on the 15th Street side while the cookout was happening on 13th Street near Board Center around 5:30 p.m.No students or staff were injured or involved, according to the post.NHCS teachers and principals stayed on the scene with the students during this incident. Police officers responded and the situation was handled by them. All students, staff and the families in attendance are safe and unharmed. We are grateful to our staffs and @WilmingtonPD.— New Hanover Co Sch (@NewHanoverCoSch) August 16, 2018Police are still searching for the shooting suspect. Fatal shooting in Houston Moore on August 16, 2018. (Photo: WPD) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Police are investigating a fatal shooting at the Houston Moore housing complex in Wilmington where a back-to-school cookout was taking place only blocks away.Wilmington Police say the shooting happened Thursday evening on 13th and Greenfield streets around 5:30 p.m.- Advertisement – If you have any information, please contact WPD at (910) 343-3609 or Text-A-Tip.,If you have any information, please contact WPD at (910) 343-3609 or Text-A-Tip.last_img read more

We must be masters not slaves to our limits – Bishop Galea

first_img Credit: Credit: 1 of 5 Credit: Credit: WhatsAppcenter_img <a href=’;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> Credit: Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Galea Curmi has told students at St Dorothy’s school that, ‘We must be masters of our limits and not slaves to our limits.’Bishop Galea Curmi made the comments during his address at the inauguration of the newly installed sports track and training facilities.Paraphrasing from the Pope the Auxiliary Bishop explained that sports were a key way of understanding how to live with rules and to pursue goals faithfully.‘When you face a competition, he said, you learn that rules are essential to live together; that happiness is not found in disregarding the rules, but in pursuing your goals faithfully; and you also learn that you no longer feel free when you have no limits, but when, within your own limits, you give the best.’Credit: the same time, Bishop Galea Curmi also emphasized the Pope’s compassion for the poor and weak.‘In sports – as in every aspect of our lives – we should aim to strive to the best of our ability, but also stop to help anyone who ‘falls’ along the way, with the knowledge that in them we are meeting Christ himself. We should be close to those who are weakest, so that they may participate in the various activities together with others, and never feel excluded.’ SharePrint Credit: read more

Windows XP is a ticking timebomb with under 500 days to go

first_imgAdvertisement The countdown clock has been ticking on Windows XP for a couple of years now, but the end is coming into view.There are only 498 days to go before Microsoft ends its extended support, and that means no more patches and no more security fixes. Given that XP is not exactly famous for its security, this represents a significant risk.However, a security breach might not be the worst of it. Journalists will be only too keen to write up the first few stories about companies whose defences are penetrated because they are still using an obsolete operating system, so the damage to their brand and reputation could be unusually large. And rather than the polite sadness that sometimes colours such stories (unlucky; could happen to anyone), victims can expect a well-deserved splattering of glee (told you so!). – Advertisement – Some companies could end up being sued. I would expect lawyers (I’m not one) who work in the technology scene to see the potential to profit from companies that have done the security equivalent of “driving without due care and attention” when looking after their data.In the UK, it is a mandatory requirement to secure data under the seventh principle of the Data Protection Act, and this necessitates some kind of risk assessment. Good luck telling a judge that your security was based on using an insecure and unsupported operating system.Still, there is no pain without gain. As well as profits for law firms, the end of XP could mean big bonuses for suppliers of cyber-liability insurance. With security breaches typically costing companies thousands of dollars/pounds a time, hefty insurance premiums would increase the already-high cost of sticking with Windows XP.The end of XP should also mean extra profits for all the software companies that offer migration software and services. And as the deadline approaches, these firms should be able to increase their prices along with increases in demand. The longer companies leave the transition to Windows 7, the costlier it is likely to get.One UK-based supplier says:With 500 days to go to this point, Camwood, the application rationalisation and migration specialists, now starts its official ‘Countdown to the End of XP’ campaign: Camwood intends to mark-off significant milestones over the next year-and-a-bit, issuing information to help businesses through the final days of XP.If you’re not sure how long you have left, Camwood has provided a Countdown Clock for XP. I hope you don’t need it.However, Netmarketshare’s browser-based statistics (below) suggest only 50.5 percent of PC users are on Windows 7 or Vista, while 40.7 percent are still on XP. That’s around 500 million users, so to make the deadline, we’ll need to upgrade a million users a day, including weekends.This could be the biggest IT bonanza since the Year 2000 “millennium bug” campaign. Struggling American PC suppliers such as HP and Dell could certainly do with the boost.Of course, the story in Africa is different considering most of the existing Windows XP copies on most laptops are pirated.Users have been moving from Windows XP to Windows 7 over the past two years, but not quickly enough. Source: NetmarketshareCredit: ZDNet.comlast_img read more