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UC Rollout In North Kensington Halted So That JobCentre Staff Can Focus On #GrenfellTower Residents

June 22, 2017

Officials have halted the planned rollout of universal credit into North Kensington, west London, next month, saying they want jobcentre staff to focus on supporting claimants affected by the Grenfell Tower fire.

Universal credit, which pulls together six separate benefits into one monthly payment, has been dogged by criticism that design flaws and payment delays were causing low-income claimants to run up rent arrears and rely on food banks.

Kensington and Chelsea was due to move to the “full service” digital-only universal credit on 19 July as part of the wider phasing in of the system across the UK by 2018, but the Department for Work and Pensions said the North Kensington jobcentre would now be excluded.

It is understood that DWP officials were nervous that any disruption to benefits caused by teething problems associated with the new system would cause extra difficulties for local claimants already coping with the tower blaze and its aftermath.

A DWP spokesperson said: “The priority is to make sure people affected by the Grenfell Tower fire get the help they need. That’s why we will defer the rollout of the full universal credit service to North Kensington that was due to take place next month, so staff can focus on providing that extra support to affected residents.”

The shadow work and pensions secretary, Debbie Abrahams, said: “We welcome this initial step to ensuring that those affected by the awful events at Grenfell Tower do not face the difficulties that so many social security claimants on universal credit do, on top of the trauma and distress they will be facing, as they try to come to terms with this dreadful tragedy.”

Just two months ago, a cross-party committee of MPs highlighted serious concerns with the operation of universal credit, including claimants waiting 12 weeks or more for their first payment, resulting in hardship and distress.

Campaigners have long being calling for changes to the design of universal credit. In particular they have argued that the 42-day wait for a first benefit payment has left many poorer claimants destitute.

In April the Trussell Trust food bank network reported that in areas where the full universal credit rollout had taken place, food bank referral rates were running at more than double the national average.

The DWP announced on Tuesday it had exempted claimants in North Kensington from normal unemployment benefit rules after residents expressed fears that Grenfell Tower survivors might be sanctioned for failing to look for work.

The department said it did not know how many North Kensington claimants would have moved on to the new system next month. Only those making new benefit claims, or renewing existing ones as a result of changed circumstances, such as losing a job, or moving house, would initially switch to universal credit.


Call on the Royal College of Occupational Therapists to withdraw from sponsorship deal with Capita

June 22, 2017

Rachel at the Spinning Wheel

The Royal College of Occupational Therapists’ 2017 conference, taking place on Monday and Tuesday this week, has been sponsored by Capita, one of the private companies contracted to carry out Personal Independence Payments assessments.* I have written an open letter to the Royal College outlining why I think this is a terrible idea. I am collecting signatures for it until the end of the day onFriday June 23. After that I will email it to the Royal College and also publish the list of signatories here.If you are a disabled person / service user / survivor / healthcare professional and would be willing to put your name to the letter below, please contact me with the name & title you would like to go on the letter (e.g. I will sign as Rachel Rowan Olive, PIP claimant & mental health service user).

Please get in touch to confirm even…

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Kadeena Cox’s Stolen Gold Medals Found

June 22, 2017

Double Paralympic champion Kadeena Cox says two of her medals have been handed in to police after being stolen from her car earlier this month.

The 26-year-old from Leeds claimed gold in the T37 women’s 100m, and T35-38 4x100m relay at the 2015 World Championships in Doha.

Cox appealed for help on Twitter after leaving the medals in her car in Bury, while filming in London on 8 June.

She tweeted that they had now been handed into the police.

Cox said: “Thank you so much to every single person that shared and retweeted my post… my medals got handed into the police this morning #happykad.”

More stories from across Yorkshire

Cox became the first British athlete since 1988 to win a medal in two sports at the same Games, in Rio last summer.

She is prioritising athletics over cycling this year, seeking to add to her medal haul at the World Para Athletics Championships in London next month.

Cox had a stroke aged 23 and was later diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

As well as the gold medals she took athletics silver in the 4x100m relay and bronze in the 100m, and was picked to be Britain’s flag-bearer at the Rio closing ceremony.

Autistic, Blind Teen Called To DWP Interview

June 22, 2017

#GrenfellTower Survivors Feared Sanctions- DWP’s Reputation Precedes It

June 22, 2017

Nigel Ackland

June 21, 2017

Nigel Ackland lost his arm in a factory accident in the UK a few years ago.

Now he is visiting Russia to show his robotic hand, one of the most sophisticated prosthetics in the world.

Another ATOS Lie

June 21, 2017