The three companies that carry out disability bene

first_imgThe three companies that carry out disability benefit assessments for the government have all been forced to admit regret at the poor quality of their work, while giving evidence to a committee of MPs.Senior executives from Maximus, Atos and Capita were providing evidence to the public accounts committee, following a highly critical report into their work by the National Audit Office (NAO).Last month’s NAO report said the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) had failed to achieve value for money from the health and disability assessments it had contracted out to Atos, Maximus and Capita.In 2014-15, DWP spent about £275 million on assessment contracts, but this is expected to more than double to £579 million by 2016-17.The NAO report showed that, in August 2015, 36 per cent of Capita’s personal independence payment (PIP) assessment reports failed to meet standards agreed with DWP, compared with the four per cent target set in its contract.In the two regions in which PIP assessments are carried out by Atos, eight and nine per cent of assessments did not meet the necessary standards.For Maximus, nine per cent of its work capability assessment reports were below par in August 2015, five months after taking over the contract from Atos, against a target of five per cent.Chris Stroud (pictured giving evidence), divisional managing director of Capita, said his company’s failure to meet the targets by such a wide margin “had not been acceptable”, but he said there was a “quality improvement plan in place”.David Haley, PIP client executive for Atos, said the figures showed that the quality of its reports was improving and that the relevant figure was now about seven per cent.When Conservative MP Nigel Mills asked why Atos was not “a little apologetic” that it was still missing its targets by such a wide margin three years into its PIP contract, Haley said he was “not happy” that his company continued to miss the target.Leslie Wolfe, general manager of Maximus UK, said she also was “not happy” that her company was not meeting its quality target, although she said it was continuing to improve.Between April 2015 and March 2018, DWP expects the three companies to carry out about seven million assessments, at an estimated cost of £1.6 billion.Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror has reported that DWP has paid consultants £200,000 to carry out a feasibility study into the possibility of privatising the Access to Work programme.The memo seen by the newspaper apparently advises ministers not to make a public announcement about the plans.last_img read more

SF Mission community weighs in on ambitious homeless reduction plan

first_imgOfficials from the San Francisco Department of Homelessness and Supportive housing on Thursday laid out their ambitious five-year homelessness reduction strategy for a group of community members at Centro Latino, a Mission District community center. The 20-odd community members, while generally impressed, still wondered how the strategy would address mental illness, sweeps by police and easier access to shelters and Navigation Centers. The new plan, first unveiled in October, seeks to end family homelessness, cut chronic homelessness in half, and rid the streets of large encampments — all within the next five years. Jeff Kositsky, the department’s director, said those goals will be accomplished mainly by integrating the 15 different databases now being used to track the unhoused through homeless, health and other services. Tags: homeless • housing • SROs Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% Kositsky said the coordinated approach would eliminate the need for homeless individuals to float around the archipelago of drop-in centers, shelters, hospitals, and transitional and supportive housing.  “This is dehumanizing, it’s trauma-inducing, it’s really ineffective and inefficient — and it’s a really bad way to treat any customer of any system,” Kositsky said. He said the new system, called the Coordinated Entry System, would allow the city to better prioritize individuals in need, as well as match people with the right services based on the severity of their needs. Right now, “it’s all based on where that person wanders to,” Kositsky said. “You’re having to go to all these different places and convince these case managers that you need what they have access to – and you have to be smart and savvy to get onto all of these lists,” he said. “That’s not a good way for the system to work.” Instead, an individual will undergo only one intake assessment at so-called “Access Points.” So far, there are two access points — one downtown and another in the Bayview — that are dedicated to families. More will be added throughout the city. The coordinated system will be fully implemented by December 2018. Kositsky intends for his system to cut chronic homelessness in half by 2022, end family homelessness by 2021, and end long-term encampments by 2019. He also mentioned his intentions to open “a bunch” of Navigation Centers throughout the city to satisfy Mayor Ed Lee’s promise to get 1,000 people off the street this winter. No amount of coordination, however, will erase the math of homelessness. Some 7,500 people are homeless in San Francisco, and the waitlist for entry into the single-adult shelter system (not including the Navigation Centers) was more than 1,000 people just a few months ago. Moreover, as participants pointed out, not nearly enough is being done for homeless people with mental health issues. On Friday in the Mission District, a worker from the Department of Public Works helped a homeless man clear his tent from a street. As two police officers watched, sometimes helping the man figure out what to toss into two large plastic bags, the man muttered to himself and imaginary characters. He was not violent, but he was clearly unable to make rational decisions. A few minutes later, he walked along 19th Street with the two bags, one shoe on, another forgotten. When asked his name, he said, “Larry,” before moving on.Larry, after he stuffed his belongings into two bags. Photo by Lydia Chávez.Henry Khalil of Centro Latino brought up the issue on Thursday night. “What are you doing to give more facilities to people who are mentally ill?” he asked Kositsky agreed that the mental health issue is severe, explaining that 35 percent of the homeless population — about 3,000 of the 7,500 homeless individuals in the city — suffer from mental illness. “We definitely need to do more in this area,” he said.  But he noted that the city’s Department of Public Health recently opened a medical respite shelter and behavioral Navigation Center at San Francisco General Hospital. That shelter currently has four beds and will add another 11 this month. He also said the health department is expanding its mobile crisis team, which, unlike the Homeless Outreach Team, is able to render on-the-spot medical treatment or check individuals into mental facilities. But it is unclear if there are adequate facilities. Kositsky said that the new database will be linked to the health department’s CCMS database, a “super user” database for people who are severely ill, mentally ill and triple-diagnosed, “So we can work together better to know who needs housing,” he said. Lastly, Kositsky said that 14 new staff members are being added to his department through a Medi-Cal waiver program. They will focus on wrapping services around high-need individuals.  “Even with this one system … if you’re severally mentally ill, this will still be a challenge, and you’re gonna need someone to physically help you get to where you need to go,” he said.  Carolyn Goossen, District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen’s chief of staff, jumped in and said that, while Ronen’s office is now focused on bringing more Navigation Centers to the district, “the mental health issue is huge.” “We’re going to be focusing on that, and push for more budget on that issue,” she said.    Mervyn Green, who lives in the Mission Hotel and works with the Central City SRO Collaborative, said that, currently, homeless people who seek housing are required to first live in a shelter before they can qualify for a room at an SRO. This limits the number of available shelter beds for people who really need them. “If that system changed, it would open up the shelters,” Green said. “It will change,” Kositsky replied. Kositsky explained that the problem Green described — how people get beds — is exactly what the coordinated system is meant to address. He said Green would start seeing a difference in the next six months.   “I see a lot of early sweeps with no warning,” said Brian Edwards, who said he’s worked closely with the homeless population for the last five years. Edwards said he’s noticed that sweeps by the SFPD and the Public Works — the constant “whack-a-mole” of encampments — only increases their drug use and the crime surrounding it. “Because people are really, really stressed out,” Edwards said. He asked Kositsky what his department can do to build more trust with the street population and give homeless residents clearer information on how to find services. “That’s a good point,” Kositsky said. “And we should really be getting the (Homeless Outreach Team) to be more vocal when they’re talking to folks.” More importantly, he said, his department is creating a unified strategy that every department can work around. “We’re mostly there, even though it may not look like it,” he said. “In the next year, it’s gonna get really different.”   “This idea of consolidating all the databases and making entry into the system less Kafkaesque seems like a great idea,” said Evan Owski, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America. “But what I’m wondering is, if there’s anything there to make the shelters themselves more humane?”Owski listed oft-cited complains by homeless individuals about shelters, like low storage space, early check-out times and restrictions on couples and pets. Kositsky said that, moving forward, newly created shelters will follow the “low-barrier” model of the Navigation Centers, which allow pets, partners and possessions. “They’re shelters as they should be,” Kositsky said. “I would love to go backwards and fix up and provide the resources to all the other shelters, and the bottom line is, we need another 1,000 shelter beds, and we need to get them up first.” center_img 0%last_img read more

First Team Match SAINTS TV

first_imgSaints came out on top after a 32-10 victory in a home sell out at the Totally Wicked Stadium after a double from Makinson was added to by tries from Coote, Naiqama and Lomax.And Holbrook hailed his teams effort after prevailing in games against fourth, third and second in the Super League over recent weeks.“I have been saying every game is hard, but to play second, third and fourth three weeks in a row is hard and on the top of it playing our toughest rivals Wigan, it is just a huge credit to the players the way they keep turning up. It was a massive effort and a great win.”James Roby missed out on the win, but James Bentley stepped in and was excellent.“I found out yesterday [that Roby wouldn’t be playing]. He trained with us this week and he still wanted to play as I expected, but it was just a smarter decision to leave him out. The reason we got him operated on was to try and play pain free, but if he would of played tonight I am sure he would have been fine, but he would have been in discomfort so it was the better option not to take that risk.James Bentley is playing great. Every opportunity Bentos he has got he is competing so hard and it is great to have him in the side.”Saints kept rivals, the Warriors to just one try and Holbrook paid credit to the defensive performance of his players.“Watching the last four or five games Wigan have played and how dangerous they have been with the ball, they have danger everywhere and to do as good as job as we have done tonight and to only concede the one try is tremendous and shows how hard the players work and its great to watch and defensively they are superb.”Lachlan Coote was taken off in the second half and Holbrook revealed he felt pain in his knee.“He [Coote] has got a little twinge in his knee. There was no point leaving him out, so we took him off as a precautionary.”last_img read more

Two Onslow Co yearround schools to extend day because of eclipse

first_img Onslow County Early College will operate on a normal schedule.Click here to read more from WCTI. JACKSONVILLE, NC (WCTI) — Onslow County Schools announced Thursday that two elementary schools will extend their school day on Monday for the eclipse.In a press release from Onslow County Schools Public Information Officer Suzie Ulbrich, Clyde Erwin Elementary and Northwoods Elementary will have school for an extra 30 minutes “since maximum eclipse coincides with dismissal times at our two year-round elementary schools.”- Advertisement – last_img

Coast Guard helps stranded kayaker near Wrightsville Beach

first_img A Coast Guard 29-foot Response Boat-Small crew from Station Wrightsville Beach located the kayaker and brought him back to Wrightsville Beach Boat Ramp.EMS evaluated the man and treated him for symptoms of mild hypothermia.“It is imperative that all mariners and kayakers keep a close eye on the weather before heading out,” said Lt. Tiffany Zehnle, the operations unit controller for the case. “One of the easiest ways to check the weather forecast is by visiting and entering your specific location.” WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The Coast Guard assisted a kayaker stranded near Wrightsville Beach this morning.According to the US Coast Guard a 32-year-old male kayaker was stranded on Figure Eight Island near Masonboro Inlet due to wind and rain.- Advertisement – last_img read more

WATCH Bolivia pastor posts viral weather reports

first_imgHe said what started as something fun, slowly gained attention and now his videos get thousands of views on Facebook.For the snow, he created the green swamp weather rock to help give an accurate forecast.Related Article: Air quality alert issued for parts of South Carolina“I looked at the weather rock and I saw some things hitting this weather rock and bouncing off. I realized immediately that it was sleeting here in Bolivia North Carolina,” Clemmons said. “After a while I went outside with my weather rock and on top of this weather rock was a pile of white stuff. I came to the quick conclusion that it was snowing here in North Carolina.”In the original video on Facebook he tells viewers they can order the weather rock for $12.95.He said as of this morning, it is on back order and he hopes everyone enjoys the snow. BOLIVIA, NC (WWAY) — Many people in Bolivia were waiting for the latest reports on weather on Wednesday. In the meantime, they had one person to turn to for updates: ‘The Bolivia Meteorologist’.Anthony Clemmons posts satirical weather reports to poke fun at meteorologists.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Wilmington Police searching for suspect who crashed into pole drove off

first_img Police say Arron David Thaddeus Hatcher, 44, was driving north in the 1800 block of Carolina Beach Road when he drove off the road and onto the sidewalk before striking a Duke Energy power pole.It caused roughly $3,000 in damage.Police say a witness approached the vehicle and found Hatcher unconscious. After the witness woke the suspect, Hatcher drove a few feet before passing out again. When the suspect awoke the second time, he drove off, but not before the witness was able to take down his registration.Related Article: Wilmington Police searching for man who exposed himself to teenHatcher has warrants for his arrest for hit and run leaving the scene with property damage, reckless driving to endanger the public, operating a vehicle with a revoked license, and operating a vehicle with no insurance.Anyone with information on Hatcher’s whereabouts should contact WPD at (910) 343.3609 or use Text A Tip. Arron David Thaddeus Hatcher (Photo: Wilmington Police Dept.) Wilmington, NC (WWAY) —  Wilmington Police are searching for the driver involved in a hit and run earlier this month.It happened around 5:40 p.m. on October 9.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Silver Alert issued for woman missing in Holden Beach

first_img Mancinelli was last seen on Southshore Drive in Holden Beach.She’s 5’2″ and weighs 120 pounds.If you know where she is, call the Holden Beach Police Department. Anna Marie Mancinelli (Photo: NCDPS) HOLDEN BEACH, NC (WWAY) — The N.C. Center for Missing Persons has issued a Silver Alert for a missing woman.According to the NC Department of Public Safety, Anna Marie Mancinelli is believed to be suffering from dementia or some other cognitive impairment.- Advertisement – last_img

Kaspersky Lab urges more IT security

first_imgAdvertisement The most common security threat comes in the form of viruses, spyware and other malicious programs, while 31% of malware attacks resulted in some form of data loss, with 10% of companies reporting the loss of sensitive business data.Only 70% of companies have implemented anti-malware protection solutions fully across their businesseswhereby 3% have no protection at all. The level of anti-malware implementation varies from country to country – in emerging markets 65% of companies have adopted it, while in the UK and US levels of implementation stood at 92% and 82% respectively. Despite this, the vast majority of companies still experienced an IT security breach in the last 12 months, and almost a third lost business information.“Such an attitude is surprising when you know that almost half of all organisations see cyber-threats as one of the top-three emerging risks – IT strategy is ranked even higher than financial, marketing and human resources strategy,” said Alexander Erofeev, Director of Market Intelligence & Insight at Kaspersky Lab. – Advertisement – “The most likely explanation is underinvestment in IT security.” Indeed, the study shows that every second company evaluates its IT security budget as insufficient, and estimates that an increase of 25% or more is required.www.itnewsafrica.comlast_img read more