A Conservative election candidate has been caught out misleading disabled constituents about the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF).A transcript of an election hustings event in Merton, south-west London, has been published which shows that the Conservative candidate Paul Holmes misled voters when asked about the ILF.Holmes told the audience on 9 March that he knew there was “a lot of concern” about the ILF, but that “people that were on the ILF from quite a while ago will continue to receive that money, but for new applicants it has closed, and it’s going down to local authorities”. This was inaccurate because the fund will close to all ILF-users at the end of June, with the UK government passing the non-ring-fenced funding to English local authorities and the Welsh and Scottish government.The hustings was organised by Merton Centre for Independent Living (CIL), Merton Seniors Forum, Merton Mencap and Age UK Merton.Holmes should have been aware of government ILF policy because he has been working in the Westminster office of Tory Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond, who has been briefed several times on the issue by Merton CIL.Holmes has so far not responded to a request for a comment from Disability News Service.The decision to close ILF has been one of the most controversial of the last five years among disabled people and their organisations, and has been the subject of a series of legal actions, protests (pictured) and direct actions over the last four years.The government has continued to argue that the care and support needs of ILF-users are better met within a single care and support system, run by local authorities.But many campaigners believe that closing ILF – a government-resourced trust which helps about 16,500 people with the highest support needs to live independently – will threaten disabled people’s right to live with dignity, and could force many of them into residential care or make it impossible for them to work or take part in everyday activities.The Scottish government announced last year that it would set up its own ILF, for both existing and new users, while the Welsh government has opted to transfer the government funding and responsibility to local authorities, but with conditions attached on how it should be spent, protecting the budgets of existing ILF-users for at least the first nine months.ILF-users in Merton do not yet know whether the government funds will be ring-fenced for their use, according to the latest research by Disability Rights UK.Of 96 English local authorities that responded to the charity’s latest Freedom of Information Act requests (out of a total of 152 councils), only 24 said they would ring-fence the government funding.And some of these 24 are only ring-fencing the money because they have not yet carried out assessments of existing ILF-users.Merton is one of 22 local authorities that have yet to decide how the ILF funds transferred by the government will be used.Meanwhile, a prominent ILF-user, Mary Laver, marked the 61st birthday of Conservative work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith, by riding her powered wheelchair from the House of Commons to the MP’s constituency in Chingford, east London.Laver, an ILF-user for 25 years and herself a member of the Conservative party, yesterday (9 April) travelled the 14 miles to deliver a “very special birthday card” to Duncan Smith.She says Duncan Smith is the man who is “going to imprison me in my own home for the rest of my life without a parole or right to appeal” by closing ILF, which has helped her live an independent life for the last 26 years.
The minister for disabled people has again misled MPs, after she claimed that the UK had “volunteered” to take part in a public UN examination which concluded that her government’s disability policies had caused a “human catastrophe”.Penny Mordaunt was responding to Labour’s new shadow minister for disabled people, Marsha de Cordova, who told the Commons this week that the UN committee on the rights of persons with disabilities had “condemned” the government’s progress on disability employment.De Cordova had asked Mordaunt if the government would respond to those concerns.The committee’s “concluding observations” report, in August, examined how the UK had implemented the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).Among more than 80 recommendations for improvements – a record number for any country being examined by the committee – it was heavily critical of the UK government’s failure to take action to close the disability pay gap and the disability employment gap, as well as raising concerns about serious flaws in the work capability assessment process.But Mordaunt told MPs on Monday (pictured) that the Office for Disability Issues was looking at the UN report and that the UK government had “volunteered to put ourselves through this process”.The process that led to the report is not voluntary, as is made clear in articles 35 and 36 of the convention.Countries that ratify the UN convention, like the UK, have to send an initial report to the committee and then provide “periodic” progress reports every four years, which eventually lead – following various stages that include a public examination – to a concluding observations report.It is not the first time that Mordaunt has been accused of misleading MPs.Last November, she misled the Commons work and pensions committee about the government’s pledge to halve the disability employment gap, less than two minutes after she began giving evidence to MPs.And last October, she told the Commons that under personal independence payment, compared with disability living allowance, “more people are entitled to use the Motability scheme”.Motability’s own figures showed that of their customers who had been reassessed for PIP at that stage, 44 per cent had lost their entitlement to the scheme and had had to return their vehicles.She has also faced questions after telling a disability hustings event in May that a Conservative government would “dismantle” the work capability assessment (WCA), and that this pledge had been included in the party’s general election manifesto.The WCA pledge was not in the Tory manifesto.When asked why Mordaunt appears to have misled MPs and whether she would apologise for doing so, a Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) spokesman claimed she had been referring to a report published last November under UNCRPD’s optional protocol procedures.He said: “We are one of the few nations that have ratified the CRPD’s optional protocol, which allows the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to undertake an inquiry.”This report found Mordaunt’s government guilty of “grave and systematic violations” of the convention’s articles on independent living, work and employment, and social protection, through policies introduced by Conservative DWP ministers between 2010 and 2015.It was the first such high-level inquiry to be carried out by the committee, and was a result of years of research and lobbying by Disabled People Against Cuts and other disabled activists.But again, the UK government’s involvement in the optional protocol was not voluntary.The UK is also not “one of the few nations” to have ratified the optional protocol, as a UN document published last year shows it has been ratified by at least 89 countries and regional organisations.It was also ratified by the last Labour government, rather than by the Conservatives.When DNS told the DWP spokesman that de Cordova had clearly been referring to the August report and that even if she had been referring to the optional protocol it would still have been wrong to suggest that the UK “volunteered” to take part, a more senior DWP spokeswoman replied instead, and said: “There’s no evidence that MPs have been misled.“We’ve nothing further to add to the response below.”
SAINTS have been put through their paces at the University of Chester, as part of a joint project between the Rugby Football League (RFL) and the University, evaluating the physical qualities of professional rugby league players.The project, which is being led by Professor Craig Twist and PhD student Nick Dobbin, both from the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, is aiming to collect data from players with all Super League clubs in the UK, to inform training and talent development practices within the sport. It is being run in collaboration with the RFL’s performance department.Professor Twist said: “St.Helens R.F.C. is a long-time partner of our Department. The club’s Head of Strength and Conditioning, Matt Daniels, has always taken an innovative approach to preparing and managing his players and, over the last five years, he has engaged in several applied research projects with us.“These have been used to inform the club’s own training, rehabilitation and selection practices, as well as contributing to several peer-reviewed papers and postgraduate projects.“St Helens is also very supportive when it comes to student learning opportunities, and has provided numerous placements for both undergraduate and postgraduate students in several areas of sport science.”For the research project, both first grade and academy players attended the University recently, to be put through a battery of rugby specific tests that assess each player’s physical qualities.The data gathered will also be used by the club to monitor individual player training and evaluate adaptations as the pre-season progresses.The University is also helping the club’s medical team with some neuromuscular screening, which will be useful if players get injured later in the season.As well as St.Helens R.F.C., the University also has strong connections with other rugby league clubs, including Warrington Wolves.Craig added: “Over the last 10 years, the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences has developed a very strong research profile in rugby league. In collaboration with the RFL and a range of professional and amateur clubs, we believe this work has enabled us to produce some impactful research that continues to inform practitioners’ work across the game.“St.Helens R.F.C., and Matt Daniels in particular, is one of those professional clubs that has been integral to the success of our work, and we’re extremely grateful that the club and players are helping us with the RFL-funded project. We value the fantastic opportunities that the club offers to our students.“These real world experiences of sport science, and how it influences rugby performance, are fundamental to students’ learning experiences, and it also enhances their employability.”Matt Daniels, Head of Strength and Conditioning at St.Helens R.F.C., added: “Our partnership with Craig and Chester University is key to ensuring we are prepared in the best possible way for our Super League season.“Their expertise is second to none and we use the data gathered from these sessions to enhance and inform our own training and preparation methods.”
The full back has crossed for 18 so far this season including the spectacular hat-trick in last Saturday’s Cup win over Castleford.Plaudits are naturally flowing his way as a result but Barba is keen to point out the work of his teammates.“I seem to be getting all the rewards off the back of their hard work,” he said. “I think so much about my teammates and what they do for me to be able to do the stuff I do.“Those forwards work hard whilst Danny Richardson is level headed. I would gladly split that bottle of wine [for winning man of the match] into 17 and share it out. Everyone does their job in this side.”He continued: “It’s a case of backing yourself when those chances come. Justin said when I make a break I should just pin them back and the passes and offloads would come off the back of that. I did that a few times on Saturday and some came off whilst other’s didn’t.“It was a tough game and the scoreline doesn’t really speak about how tough it was. Cas set a standard when they named a strong forward pack but credit to the boys we fought through it.“We hung on in there, got to half time, fixed things up and tried to finish them off in the second half.”
What’s On:Red Vee Cafe Bar – Opens at 5pm.Turnstiles – Open at 6pm.LDRL Rugby League – Saints will take on Warrington in a special exhibition match before the main event. It kicks off at 6:15pm.Club Face Painters – These will once again be operating in the Hattons Solicitors Family Stand and the Totally Wicked North Stand from around 6:30pm … come along and get your face painted in Saints colours for free!Bouncy Castles – We have rugby themed inflatables in the North and South West Stands.Member Offers – We have two great offers for you – any pie & alcoholic beverage is just £6, whilst a pie or hotdog & hot drink is just £4.Soft Drinks – Fruit shoots are available for just £1.50 each.Carling Bar – Fans in the West Stand can continue to get their hands on 500ml Carling PETs from our bottle bar in the concourse. Price is £4.Contactless Payment – Will be available in the Karalius, Popular Side, Marching Inn, Eddington Arms and Voll’s bars to speed up your service.The A-Star Saints Angels – Will be performing several new performances before the game and at half time. Today the Warrington Wirettes join them for a special routine too.SeatServe – We are continuing to link up with SeatServe to offer a trial of a new in-seat, food and drink delivery service on matchday. The SeatServe app, which enables fans to order food and drinks from their smartphone for efficient delivery to their seat, will be tested in the Totally Wicked North Stand and South Stand at tonight’s game. Click here to find out more.Bucket Collection – Dig deep as the Academy continue their fundraising for the 2019 Academy Tour of Australia.Half Time – See the Simply Doughnuts Kicking Challenge! Contestants have three attempts to kick a ball into a large replica Simply Doughnuts pot in front of the West Stand. There’s a whole host of prizes to win and if you kick it in from the 40m line, you return at the final game of the season to kick again for the chance to win a Membership for the 2019 season.Sponsors:The Match is sponsored by Elcons whilst the Man of the Match will be selected by Bidfood. Betfred are our Corporate Sponsor.Team News:Both sides have named their 19-man squad for the match. You can find out more here.Tickets:Tickets for the game are available from the Ticket Office at the Totally Wicked Stadium or by calling 01744 455 052. There will be cash turnstiles on the Hattons Solicitors West, Totally Wicked North and East Stands. If you require a South Stand ticket then you need to head to the Ticket Office.Tickets are available online until 4pm.Saints Superstore:The Saints Superstore will be open from 9am right up until kick-off and for 45 minutes after the final whistle.Programme:The programme is priced at £3 and features an review of the season, plus tributes to Ben Barba and Jon Wilkin.A Message:Just a reminder: Saints fans are the best in the world and known throughout the sport as being one of the most vocal and loyal group of supporters there is.As a family club we ask that fans are mindful of their fellow supporters and refrain from doing anything that would damage this reputation.There have been instances of beer throwing and other anti-social behaviour at some of our games this year and we ask that fans think of those around them and not do anything that could bring further action on the club.Please note the use of smoke grenades and flares at the stadium is prohibited.Anyone caught throwing beer, or any other liquid, alongside smoke grenades or flares, risks being banned for a period of games, and/or having Memberships tickets rescinded.