Problems with the flawed computer system used to deal with claims for the government’s new disability benefit have left hundreds of callers stuck in lengthy telephone queues.The system used for new personal independence payment (PIP) claims has crashed twice in a fortnight, leaving disabled callers unable to get through to lodge their claims.On 28 July, PIP claimants were unable to reach the helpline for five hours, with call handlers not able to receive any calls, a whistle-blower has told Disability News Service (DNS).And less than two weeks later, on 9 August, there was a crash of the CAMlite software – used across DWP as part of the move towards universal credit – leaving call-handlers unable to take any calls for more than four hours.The problems have been worsened by the decision of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to send out more than 40,000 letters in August to recipients of working-age disability living allowance (DLA), telling them they need to apply for the replacement benefit PIP, as part of the process to reassess every working-age DLA claimant.The problems are just the latest to have hit the computer system used to deal with new PIP claimants, with DWP continuing to deny that it is fundamentally flawed.Earlier this summer, DWP claimed that the system – designed and maintained by IT giant Hewlett Packard Enterprise – was just being affected by minor “technical glitches”.That response came despite a whistle-blower telling DNS that the PIP CS software designed to deal specifically with PIP claims was “appallingly bad”.The whistle-blower told DNS earlier this year that the software was so poor that, at least once a month, staff were unable to process claims coming through on the helpline and had to tell callers to ring again, because of problems with the system.The whistle-blower, who works for Serco, the company that runs the telephone helpline that deals with all new PIP claims, said DWP had “messed up” by sending out too many letters to DLA claimants in August.They said: “As a result, on August 1st, 2nd and 3rd, there were over 300 callers in the queue, with waiting times well over 20 minutes.“On every day since then there have been times when the queue was over 100 callers.”A DWP spokeswoman said: “We are aware that there have been intermittent IT issues which have impacted our PIP telephony services. “As with any IT systems, it is inevitable that from time to time there will be technical issues.“We work hard to fix any issues as soon as they arise and all claims are processed with the minimum delay possible – in fact, PIP claims are now being cleared four times faster [than] they were in January 2014.”She said the latest problems “have been fixed and the PIP telephony services are working normally”.She added: “We continue to monitor the service closely and identify opportunities to improve our systems. “Our processes are kept under regular review and are closely monitored to ensure that any disruption to claimants is kept to a minimum and that claims continue to progress smoothly.”PIP, which is gradually replacing working-age DLA, has been mired in controversy, delays and backlogs ever since its launch in April 2013.DNS reported last month that Motability expected that 35,000 vehicles would have to be handed back by disabled people during 2016 as a result of the government’s programme to reassess people for PIP, and cut at least 20 per cent from spending on working-age DLA.Activists who took part in a national day of action last month – organised by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), WinVisible and the Mental Health Resistance Network – said they believed PIP was “rotten to the core” and pointed to growing evidence of the “shoddy nature” of PIP assessments, carried out by the government’s contractors, Capita and Atos.In February, DWP figures revealed that only two-thirds (68 per cent) of PIP claimants were satisfied with the service they received from DWP, compared with an average of 82 per cent across all 10 benefits surveyed.
83 Labour MPs have written to Jeremy Corbyn urging him not to agree any Brexit deal without laying down another referendum as a condition of his support.Last week, Theresa May reached out to the Labour leader and expressed a willingness to find a way through the Brexit impasse that has brought the process to a standstill.The Prime Minister tweeted a video over the weekend in which she said: “People didn’t vote on party lines when it came to the Brexit referendum. And I think members of the public want to see their politicians working together more often.”The cross-party negotiations have not been productive so far, but it is thought that the government could be ready to compromise on some of Corbyn’s five demands for Brexit – particularly a UK-EU customs union. Such a move would anger Tory MPs and Brexiteers in the cabinet, yet would likely allow May to push her withdrawal agreement through the Commons.Labour is understood to favour another EU referendum only in the circumstances that ‘Remain’ would be pitched against a “damaging Tory Brexit” on the ballot paper. The negotiating team has not laid down a public vote as a condition for backing any deal.Labour MPs, activist groups and shadow cabinet members Tom Watson and Emily Thornberry have argued that this approach would not align with conference policy and that any deal – even one that meets Corbyn’s demands – should be ‘put to the people’ in a ‘confirmatory ballot’.The letter signed by 83 Labour MPs and sent to Corbyn reads: “It is not Labour’s job to rescue Theresa May and usher in her successor. We need a general election to kick out the Tories. It is our job to find a find a way to break the deadlock. In our view, the only way to do that is with a public vote.”It contends that any compromise deal would only be “legitimate” if signed off by the public, and that insisting on another public vote would increase the likelihood of an early general election, which is the leadership’s top priority.The original signatories of the letter form part of ‘Love Socialism, Hate Brexit’ group of pro-EU, left-wing MPs, including shadow ministers Marsha de Cordova and Clive Lewis. It is designed to show that parliamentary party pressure comes from members across all factions, not exclusively Corbynsceptics.On Monday afternoon, a Labour spokesperson said: “Following further communication between the Brexit negotiating teams over the last 48 hours, Labour Party and government officials are meeting this evening.”This story will be updated if more signatories are added…Below is the full text of the letter and list of signatories.Dear Jeremy,In a desperate move by a Prime Minister who has run out of options, the Labour Party has been invited to enter negotiations with Theresa May about reaching cross-party agreement on a Brexit deal. With no support in parliament or in her own party, the Prime Minister has turned to Labour to bail her out.But Theresa May has been clear that the legally binding part of the Brexit deal, the Withdrawal Agreement, cannot be renegotiated. This means that the only concessions Labour could obtain will be non-binding assurances about the future relationship. Any future Tory Prime Minister could simply rip up these “guarantees” after Theresa May leaves office, and it is the stated aim of the vast majority of Tory MPs to do precisely this.The only way to guarantee jobs, rights and protections – and Labour’s reputation with its membership and the electorate – is to support a confirmatory public vote on any option which is agreed by parliament, which will put additional pressure on the government to hold the early general election the country needs.Under the current leadership, Labour is offering a vision of hope which has inspired millions of people. Tory Brexit threatens this, and so does any perceived participation in delivering it. Any compromise deal which is now agreed by parliament will have no legitimacy if it is not confirmed by the public.The views of members are clear. Labour’s democratically established policy, passed at party conference in September 2018, is to oppose a Brexit deal which does not meet Labour’s six tests and put any deal that does to a public vote. It would be untenable for Labour not to insist on a public vote on a deal which did not meet these tests.It is not Labour’s job to rescue Theresa May and usher in her successor. We need a general election to kick out the Tories. It is our job to find a find a way to break the deadlock. In our view, the only way to do that is with a public vote.We – your supporters – urge you to make a confirmatory public vote your bottom line in negotiations with Theresa May and to fight to bring this government down.Original signatories from Love Socialism, Hate Brexit (18):1. Marsha de Cordova MP2. Janet Daby MP3. Anneliese Dodds MP4. Rosie Duffield MP5. Ruth George MP6. Preet Gill MP7. Ged Killen MP8. Clive Lewis MP9. Rachael Maskell MP10. Anna McMorrin MP11. Stephen Morgan MP12. Chi Onwurah MP13. Kate Osamor MP14. Luke Pollard MP15. Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP16. Alex Sobel MP17. Paul Sweeney MP18. Catherine West MPAdditional signatories that support the sentiment of this letter (65):1. Debbie Abrahams MP2. Rushanara Ali MP3. Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP4. Tonia Antoniazzi MP5. Margaret Beckett MP6. Ben Bradshaw MP7. Chris Bryant MP8. Karen Buck MP9. Ruth Cadbury MP10. Ann Clwyd MP11. Neil Coyle MP12. Mary Creagh MP13. Stella Creasy MP14. Alex Cunningham MP15. Geraint Davies MP16. Tan Dhesi MP17. Stephen Doughty MP18. Angela Eagle MP19. Maria Eagle MP20. Dame Louise Ellman MP21. Julie Elliott MP22. James Frith MP23. Kate Green MP24. Lilian Greenwood MP25. Helen Hayes MP26. Meg Hillier MP27. Margaret Hodge MP28. George Howarth MP29. Rupa Huq MP30. Sarah Jones MP31. Susan Elan Jones MP32. Darren Jones MP33. Liz Kendall MP34. Peter Kyle MP35. David Lammy MP36. Chris Matheson MP37. Steve McCabe MP38. Kerry McCarthy MP39. Alison McGovern MP40. Catherine McKinnell MP41. Madeleine Moon MP42. Ian Murray MP43. Jess Phillips MP44. Bridget Phillipson MP45. Steve Reed MP46. Rachel Reeves MP47. Ellie Reeves MP48. Virendra Sharma MP49. Barry Shearman MP50. Andy Slaughter MP51. Owen Smith MP52. Jo Stevens MP53. Wes Streeting MP54. Gareth Thomas MP55. Stephen Timms MP56. Anna Turley MP57. Thelma Walker MP58. Matt Western MP59. Martin Whitfield MP60. Phil Wilson MP61. Dr Paul Williams MP62. Daniel Zeichner MP63. David Hanson MP64. Seema Malhotra MP65. David Drew MPTags:Labour /Jeremy Corbyn /Brexit /Public vote /
THE Typhoo Legends will take on the Ginetta Allstars in a fantastic Celebrity Football Event for Jon Wilkin’s Testimonial.Held at Langtree Park on Sunday November 25 with a 1.30pm kick-off, the Typhoo Legends will feature the likes of Mark Wright, Mike Newell, Dennis Irwin, Frank Stapleton and Lee Martin as well as Saints Legends Sean Long and Paul Sculthorpe.Jon Wilkin and Paul Wellens will be on the Allstars team with TV and Soap stars from Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks.Wilkin said: “It’s going to be a fantastic day of family fun, laughs and football with a twist as rugby players show how tough the round ball is to master.“Please get you tickets early as only one stand is open for the game and a high demand has been shown to date.”The South Stand at Langtree Park will be open for the event and tickets can be bought from the Ticket Office, by calling 01744 455 052 or online.Kids go free! Every adult that buys a ticket will receive one free child’s ticket for a child aged under 16. The adult tickets cost £10. Extra children’s tickets they can be purchased at £5 each. Students and Concessions are £5 each.Sunday lunch hospitality in the Players’ Lounge and Lookers Vauxhall Premier Lounge is available at £25 per head for a Sunday Lunch and you can meet the players and get best seats in the house! Children’s seats in the hospitality lounge are £15.To book hospitality please email: [email protected]
His side are five from five whilst the Rhinos have only dropped one game this season.But the head coach says last season’s premiers are still the team to watch.“They are the defending champions,” he said. “They are the ones everyone has to chase. They are a good quality side and it will be a hard game.“They are a hard-working team and pop up everywhere in defence. They also play some good second phase type rugby and they have strong outside backs.“They are a strong side and continue to show that. They’ve only lost one game this year so we know it will be a tough game. But it is one we are looking forward to.”Saints have been receiving the plaudits for their unbeaten start to the season – and Holbrook says there is more to come.“Every team will improve and although we are winning, we will get better,” he added. “We’re picking things up in our video sessions and the players agree with them. We’ll definitely keep on getting better.“The players are working hard and are getting their rewards.“We’re enjoying our start but are remaining level headed. We set high standards here and are training and playing well. We need to continue to do that and we will work hard to do so.”Saints welcome Jon Wilkin back on Friday but will be without Alex Walmsley who came off the field against Warrington with a neck problem.Tickets for the game, which kicks off at 7:45pm at the Totally Wicked Stadium, remain on sale from the Ticket Office, by calling 01744 455 052 or online here.