A court has ruled that a disabled woman should be

first_imgA court has ruled that a disabled woman should be awarded £5,000 compensation by the government contractor Atos, after a dishonest report by one of its assessors led to her being awarded the wrong level of benefits.Vanessa Haley, from Huddersfield, told the county court in her written evidence that the assessor had tried to “impede her entitlement” to the enhanced rate of the daily living component of personal independence payment (PIP) by “falsifying” her assessment report.The assessment report also led to her being denied any PIP mobility support.She was awarded the compensation after the court upheld her claim of maladministration against Atos and her allegation that it was responsible for causing her health conditions to worsen.The news of her court victory came as the minister for disabled people gave evidence to the Commons work and pensions committee yesterday (Wednesday), as part of its inquiry into the PIP and employment and support allowance assessment processes (see separate story).Disability News Service has been investigating claims of dishonesty at the heart of the PIP assessment system for more than a year, and has heard from nearly 300 disabled people who have made such allegations.Haley was previously on the lower rate of care and mobility for disability living allowance (DLA), but the impact of her multiple health conditions had worsened since her last DLA award in 2013.The Atos assessor, a paramedic, visited the former teacher and film-maker at her home in January 2016 as part of her reassessment for PIP, which is gradually replacing working-age DLA.But she told the court that he “consistently and repeatedly ignored” her answers and evidence in his report, and misrepresented what he saw during the face-to-face assessment.One example she gave was that he described her as looking “well kempt and casually dressed”, when she had not washed her hair in 10 days and was wearing pyjamas and a dressing gown.He also said he had seen her “move her body around the sofa herself and raise her legs on and off the floor herself”, and claimed that she was able to “lay back and put her head against the sofa”.But she said she was seated when he came into the room and her legs were already up, and she only lifted them with her hands to put them on a cushion.She said: “I tried to move myself but couldn’t as I don’t have the upper body strength.“My mum offered to lift me but she’s 73 and that’s not fair to her, so I sat in a great deal of pain for the rest of the assessment.“I didn’t lay back either as my sofa doesn’t allow that, it’s a straight back.”The assessor said that because of her movements on the sofa and because she said she could drive an automatic car – which he said “suggests adequate power and movement in her limbs and joints” – she was “able to move for more than 200 meters (sic) safely and reliably”.The assessor also claimed that she had been “able to recall all of her medical details and history without prompting or referring to written notes”, when she had actually had to pass a written list of her conditions to her mother to read out for her.The county court awarded Haley £5,000 when Atos failed to offer a defence to her claim for damages.The battle to secure the correct level of PIP support has had a significant impact on her mental health, leaving her unable to leave her home.She now experiences “constant paranoia” about being misdiagnosed by GPs and other healthcare professionals. She has also begun self-harming.Haley, who has significant physical and mental health impairments, was also left so depressed by the assessment process that police had to be called to her home last year after she threatened to take her own life.As a result of the misleading and dishonest assessment, she was originally granted only the standard daily living rate of PIP, at £55 per week, instead of the enhanced rate, at £83, and was not awarded anything for mobility.She was only awarded the enhanced rate of daily living and the standard mobility rate after appealing to a tribunal, which ruled in her favour in March this year, 14 months after the PIP assessment took place.Because of the original decision, she was forced to rely on credit cards and financial help from her family, and was left severely in debt.Haley said she had only taken the court case because she was persuaded to do so by her disabled friend Bret Lowther, who was a law student.He took his own life in October, but his efforts helped secure her court victory.She said: “He and most others saw the toll that it had taken on me and how much further my health deteriorated. “I agreed to it, because he was going to deal with all the legal process and complaints to the various bodies.“I didn’t do it for the money, but Bret said that there had to be a monetary value attached to it.“I wanted and still do want this diabolical treatment of the sick and disabled to be exposed and stopped.” She said it was “exhausting constantly being worn down by the machine that is the Department for Work and Pensions and the PIP system. “It is rarely absent from my thoughts, and as a result my anxiety is through the roof.”She said she was “angry” that she and other disabled people were being “dismissed and lied about”, because “through no fault of our own we have found ourselves in unfortunate and reduced circumstances.“We are constantly being lied about, repressed and vilified. Many disabled people have become even further isolated by this system and have lost much, if not all of their care.”An Atos spokesman said: “We were made aware this week of this judgement and our initial internal investigation indicates that we did not receive the claim form at our registered office which is why no defence was filed to the claim.“Until this investigation is complete we must reserve our position.”last_img read more

Tom Watson will deliver a memorial lecture today t

first_imgTom Watson will deliver a memorial lecture today to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of John Smith, who led the party from 1992 to 1994.In an event hosted by the Fabian Society, Labour’s deputy leader is expected to make a speech that recalls his memories of Smith and celebrates the Labour tradition championed by the former leader.Watson, who strongly supports the idea of holding another EU referendum and recently set up the ‘Future Britain Group’ for Labour parliamentarians dissatisfied with the current policy direction of the party, will particularly highlight Smith’s pro-European internationalism.Smith regarded Euroscepticism, “whether of the right-wing independent trading nation variety or the left-wing ‘socialism in one country’ variety”, as “wrong-headed”, Watson will say. “If John was alive today… I have no doubt that he would have taken a stand very similar to that of his deputy, Margaret Beckett, and backed a People’s Vote as a way out of this destructive mess.”As he did at the second Future Britain Group meeting last week, the deputy leader plans to present Labour as the only party that can defeat the far-right. In a message especially aimed at Remainers, he will urge Labour voters not to stay home in the European elections.The Brexit Party, led by Nigel Farage, is widely expected to come first in the elections on May 23rd. “Farage and his far-right colleague, Stephen Yaxley Lennon, are trying to speak for Britain and define our country,” Watson will warn. “John Smith would have seen this plastic patriotism for what it was and exposed them for what they are – base nationalists of the nastiest kind; the ultimate cynics, playing on fears and lies.”The deputy leader will add: “There are only two forces that can win this election – that nasty nationalism of the Farage Brexit Party, or the tolerant, compassionate outward-looking patriotism of the Labour Party. I can only plead with Labour supporters – don’t stay at home, don’t put that cross elsewhere, don’t let them win.”Looking back on his personal memories of Smith, Watson will say: “I was a young man when John Smith died. I knew him, as well as a junior staffer at the party headquarters could know the leader. But ask anyone who worked with him, many of whom are here this evening, and we will tell you the relationship was more than one of dutiful subservience.“We loved him. We had faith in him. We believed in him. Those qualities that the British people so warmed to, and grieved when he died, when strangers wept in the streets, and brought flowers to the steps of 150 Walworth Road, were even more apparent up close. His warmth, his intellect, his humour, his determination and above all his values.“I was there on the night of the European Gala Dinner serving up the drinks, and myself and Iain McNicol walked him to the waiting car at the end of the evening. The last line of his speech that night was ringing in our ears – ‘please give us the opportunity to serve our country. That is all we ask.’ And that, as we know, was the last speech he made.”Tags:Tom Watson /Labour /John Smith /last_img read more

STHELENS have announced that Head Coach Nathan Br

first_imgST.HELENS have announced that Head Coach Nathan Brown will return home to Australia for family reasons at the end of this season.The Club will announce the appointment of a new Head Coach at an appropriate time during the close season.St.Helens Chairman Eamonn McManus stated: “Nathan received our blessing to apply for the Wests Tigers head coaching position and although not successful, the same family reasons for a return home still pertained. We therefore willingly agreed to grant him an early release regardless.“Nathan has done a great job in rebuilding the St.Helens squad over the last two seasons and we are very strongly positioned indeed for the future.“The Club’s focus is now entirely on winning the Grand Final at Old Trafford next week.“We are confident and the team is looking forward to this game with absolute determination and focus. As it is Nathan’s last game in charge, there is even more to play for and the motivation levels are even higher.”The Club will not be making any further statement at this time.last_img read more

Uncollected voting documents can be picked up from tomorrow until Thursday –

first_img SharePrint Letters Scrabble Vote WordLetters Scrabble Vote Word The Electoral Commission says it will be distributing uncollected voting documents from its electoral offices tomorrow until Thursday 23rd May.These documents will be distributed through the Naxxar office and the Identity Card Office in Victoria, Gozo.The EC explains that in certain extreme circumstances, infirm voters should be accompanied to the electoral office by the driver and a second person who can present the voter’s ID or Residence Card to one of the Commissioners. They should be able to indicate the voter in the parked car.This applies to both the Naxxar and Victoria Gozo offices.The EC also explains that if the elderly or sick person is unable to be brought to the office, the Commission says that it will make the effort to deliver the document to their home. The EC provides the following phone number in order for a relative to call or contact the Electoral Office to provide the needed details.The office can be called on 21416848 or 21416857.Just one visiting hour in hospitals on ThursdayElections: Special medical form required for sick people in need to skip queuesElectoral Commission issues voting advice to non-Maltese residentsThe Electoral  Commission reminds all those persons collecting their voting document/s that their voting document/s may only be collected on a personal basis and on the presentation of the voter’s identity or residence card.Without the voting document/s, no one will be allowed to vote on polling day.WhatsApp <a href=’http://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/ck.php?n=ab2c8853&amp;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’https://revive.newsbook.com.mt/www/delivery/avw.php?zoneid=97&amp;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>last_img read more