Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith dism

first_imgWork and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith dismissed an offer from the equality watchdog to help MPs and peers understand the true impact on disabled people and other groups of his new welfare bill.Letters between the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and Duncan Smith (pictured) were published this week on the commission’s website, following a freedom of information request.They show that Duncan Smith snubbed an offer from the commission to “work more closely” on the equality impact assessments his department had already published alongside his welfare reform and work bill.In her letter sent in September, Rebecca Hilsenrath, EHRC’s interim chief executive, had asked Duncan Smith “what your thoughts are on ensuring that the impact assessments are sufficient to address these issues and support the proper scrutiny of the bill”.In his response last month, Duncan Smith ignored her offer of assistance and told her that the impact assessments already use “the most robust analysis available to give a good assessment of both the rationale for and the impacts of the reforms” in the bill.In a briefing on its website, EHRC says it is concerned that parts of the welfare reform and work bill “could exacerbate, rather than reduce, existing inequalities”.It says it is concerned that the impact assessments and human rights memorandum which accompany the bill “do not fully assess the effect of the bill on equality and human rights”, which “may make it difficult for parliamentarians to properly consider the implications of the measures in the bill”.The watchdog also says the government should review welfare reform measures in the bill – including the proposed reduction of the benefit cap, the freeze on many benefit rates, and the WRAG cut – so it can assess how they comply with the government’s international human rights obligations, including the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.An EHRC spokesman said: “We continue to raise our concerns and make representations on this issue.“Our latest position is set-out in the briefing we provided to parliamentarians this week.“For example, at Commons report stage we urged MPs to support an amendment which would have prevented implementation of the bill until an assessment of the cumulative impact and impact on equality of reforms to tax credits and benefits announced in the 2015 summer budget is presented to both Houses of Parliament.“This makes clear that the commission is concerned that the impact assessments and human rights memorandum which accompany the bill do not fully assess the effect of the bill on equality and human rights.”The letters were published as the bill began its progress through the House of Lords, with one Tory peer saying she was appalled by the wording of the government’s impact assessment of its proposed cut of £29 a week for future claimants placed in the work-related activity group (WRAG) of employment and support allowance.The assessment says the cut would “remove the financial incentives that could otherwise discourage claimants from taking steps back to work”.Baroness Browning, who has a son with autism, told the welfare reform minister Lord Freud: “I am disgusted with those words.”Despite her comments, Lord Freud spoke in the debate of the “perverse incentives” of paying disabled people in the WRAG more than people on the mainstream jobseeker’s allowance.The disabled peers Lord [Colin] Low and Baroness [Tanni] Grey-Thompson, along with their fellow crossbench peer Baroness Meacher, are heading a parliamentary review into how the proposed WRAG cut might affect disabled people.Lord Low dismissed the bill as “another round of ideologically-driven cuts to welfare”, and told fellow peers that the government’s target of cutting another £12 billion from benefits spending “cannot but have a devastating impact on poor people who depend on benefits”.Baroness Grey-Thompson suggested that the WRAG cut could move disabled people further from the workplace, by creating an incentive for them to be placed in the ESA support group, where there would be limited employment support available to them.She added: “I struggle to see how cutting support could incentivise disabled people into work, and I am looking forward to the DWP’s convincing arguments in this area.”In response to criticisms of the WRAG cut, Lord Freud quoted a 10-year-old report by the OECD which said that “financial incentives to work can be improved by either cutting welfare benefit levels, or introducing in-work benefits while leaving benefit levels unchanged”, although it was not clear whether this referred to disabled benefit claimants.He added: “This change, combined with the new funding [the government plans to spend an extra £100 million a year of the £640 million savings from the WRAG cut on improving employment support for disabled people] is about providing the right incentives and support to encourage more people to move closer to the labour market.”last_img read more

SAINTS utility forward Mark Flanagan will not want

first_imgSAINTS utility forward Mark Flanagan will not want for motivation when he makes his first Magic Weekend appearance against his former team Wigan Warriors at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday May 27 (6.00pm).Flanagan, who spent two seasons with West Tigers in the NRL between leaving Wigan and joining Saints, has previously missed out on the unique sporting concept that hosts a full round of Stobart Super League fixtures in one venue over a single weekend and is determined to make up for lost time.“I’ve never had the chance to play in a Magic event before so I am really looking forward to my debut this year,” said the 24- year-old. “It will be a great occasion and the move to Manchester’s Etihad Stadium should hopefully draw in a huge crowd so we can have a great weekend of Rugby League. “One of the greatest aspects of our sport is the friendly interaction between different fans from every club that enjoy Rugby League together. We have witnessed this at Wembley finals and now we have the opportunity through the Magic Weekends, which is even better because every Super League club is playing. “The fans are a credit to our sport and I don’t think you could have a concept like the Magic Weekend in any other sport. Hopefully we will get a larger number of St Helens fans down to the Etihad for what will be a fantastic weekend for Rugby League supporters.”There is added excitement for the St Helens player as the local rivalry fixture pits Flanagan against his former team following two previous defeats against the Warriors this season.“We have played against Wigan twice already this season and lost both times, so the Magic Weekend will be our chance to get our own back,” said Flanagan. “The local derby matches against Wigan are great spectacles for fans and great games to be involved in. The rivalry between the two clubs is massive. “It’s a bit different playing against your old team-mates and I have some good friends at Wigan but as soon as I pull on the club shirt on I am fully focused on the upcoming 80 minutes. I am fully committed to St Helens and I am looking to get the two points on Sunday.”Unreserved tickets for the Magic Weekend have sold out, but reserved seating tickets are still available and cost from just £45 adult and £22.50 concession for day tickets. Tickets for the full weekend cost from just £60 adult and £30 concessions and are available by calling 0844 856 1113 or by visiting read more

SAINTS have announced their 19man squad for Satur

first_imgSAINTS have announced their 19-man squad for Saturday’s First Utility Super League match with Catalan Dragons.Jonny Lomax, Alex Walmsley, Willie Manu, Josh Jones and Mark Percival all return but Lance Hohaia misses out as his wife is due to give birth.Andre Savelio is also called up for the trip to Perpignan.Nathan Brown will choose from:1. Jonny Lomax, 2. Tommy Makinson 3. Jordan Turner, 4. Josh Jones, 7. Luke Walsh, 8. Mose Masoe, 9. James Roby, 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 11. Sia Soliola, 13. Willie Manu, 15. Mark Flanagan, 17. Paul Wellens, 18. Alex Walmsley, 22. Mark Percival, 24. Gary Wheeler, 26. Matty Dawson, 28. Luke Thompson, 29. Jordan Hand, 33. Andre Savelio.Laurent Frayssinous will choose from:2. Morgan Escaré, 3. Leon Pryce, 4. Ben Pomeroy, 5. Michael Oldfield, 6. Thomas Bosc, 8. Olivier Elima, 9. Ian Henderson, 10. Jeff Lima, 11. Zeb Taia, 12. Louis Anderson, 13. Greg Mounis, 16. Eloi Pelissier, 17. Elliott Whitehead, 18. Daryl Millard, 23. Lopini Paea, 24. Jason Baitieri, 25. Vincent Duport, 26. Damien Cardace, 29. Benjamin Garcia.The game kicks off at 5pm UK Time and the referee will be James Child.last_img read more

JON Wilkin spoke about the fine margins of success

first_imgJON Wilkin spoke about the fine margins of success following Saints heartbreaking semi-final loss to Leeds.The champions were within 10 minutes of returning to Old Trafford until Ryan Hall scored off the back of a superb 40:20 from Kevin Sinfield.“At the top end of the game it is all about those,” he said. “They dictate whether you win or lose. The 40:20 was one of those moments and that is why Kevin Sinfield has been the player he is and gets the plaudits. He has built his career on being on the right side of those moments.“But we had opportunities to stop the try and didn’t.“On the whole I thought we were good and our effort was great, but we weren’t clinical enough and that cost us at the end of the game. We had chances and failed to capitalise on the good field position and possession in the first half. Leeds did the opposite and came up with the right play at the right time.“In all honesty we should have been further ahead. After James Roby scores we missed three or four opportunities then have away a penalty and charged a ball down to repeat the set.“There were a few big calls too. We were penalised for what was simultaneous contact on Cuthbertson and that was a shocking decision. But aside from that, Leeds were exceptional. They are a great side, champion club.”He continued: “We strive for success here. Every year we want to win the Challenge Cup and the Grand Final. I’m one of the leaders here and we need more leadership to help in the right situations like tonight.“We need some more experience at the club and I’d like to see that from the younger guys as we continue on. My job here is to bring that out.”last_img read more

China makes unprecedented proposals on tech trade talks progress – US officials

first_imgFILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping shake hands after making joint statements at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Damir SagoljFILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping shake hands after making joint statements at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj China has made unprecedented proposals in talks with the United States on a range of issues including forced technology transfer as the two sides work to overcome remaining obstacles to a deal to end their protracted trade war, U.S. officials told Reuters on Wednesday.U.S. President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on $250 billion (£190 billion) of Chinese imports last year in a move to force China to change the way it does business with the rest of the world and to pry open more of China’s economy to U.S. companies.Among Trump’s demands are for Beijing to end practices that Washington alleges result in the systematic theft of U.S. intellectual property and the forced transfer of American technology to Chinese companies.China put proposals on the table in the talks that went further than in the past, including on technology transfer, said one of four senior U.S. administration officials who spoke to Reuters.Negotiators have made progress on the details of the written agreements that have been hashed out to address U.S. concerns, he said.“If you looked at the texts a month ago compared to today, we have moved forward in all areas. We aren’t yet where we want to be,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.“They’re talking about forced technology transfer in a way that they’ve never wanted to talk about before – both in terms of scope and specifics,” he said, referring to Chinese negotiators. He declined to give further detail.Reuters reported previously that the two sides were working on written agreements in six areas: forced technology transfer and cyber theft, intellectual property rights, services, currency, agriculture and non-tariff barriers to trade.U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin arrive in Beijing on Thursday for a new round of talks with Chinese officials to work on a deal that would end a months-long trade war that has cost both sides billions of dollars and hurt global economic growth.The in-person talks, which will be followed by a round in Washington next week, are the first face-to-face meetings the two sides have held in weeks after missing an initial end-of-March goal for a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping to sign a pact.Talks would continue as long as progress is being made on the core issues, the official said.“It could go to May, June, no one knows. It could happen in April, we don’t know,” another administration official said.The two sides still have differences over intellectual property and how to enforce a deal, he said.‘SOME TARIFFS WILL STAY’China wants the United States to lift its tariffs as part of a deal. Washington, which is cognizant that the tariffs give it leverage to ensure Beijing follows through on any commitments it makes, is wary of lifting them right away.Trump said last week the United States may leave tariffs on Chinese goods for a “substantial period” to ensure compliance.“Some tariffs will stay,” the second official said. “There’s going to be some give on that, but we’re not going to get rid of all the tariffs. We can’t.”The topic will be addressed in upcoming talks.“Obviously that is an issue that we need to resolve … and will be an important part of a final deal,” the first official said. He said there was some agreement on enforcement on what he termed the “backend” once a deal was in place: a structure in which both sides could raise grievances and implement tariffs if there were violations to the agreement.Since July 2018, the United States has imposed duties on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports, including $50 billion in technology and industrial goods at 25 percent and $200 billion in other products including furniture and construction materials, at 10 percent.China has hit back with tariffs on about $110 billion worth of U.S. goods, including soybeans and other commodities.The first official said the focus of talks had shifted from Chinese purchases of U.S. goods to the trickier structural issues, which he said Trump wanted as part of a “great” deal.Bipartisan support at home for his tough stance on China as well as from the business community have emboldened Trump as he pushes for a deal that addresses long-standing complaints on trade, the source said.Some officials have expressed concern that Trump would accept a deal involving big-ticket Chinese purchases of U.S. goods and falling short on structural issues.“Who would he be pleasing by .. selling out?” the source said.He expressed optimism that a deal would be reached.“I’m still confident, but it takes time,” he said.“Until any deal is finalised, it can always go either way. And the president has made clear, both in word and in action, that he’s going to walk away from deals if they’re not good deals.”WhatsApp SharePrint <a href=’;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a>last_img read more

Were Maltas Temple people killed off by volcanic dust

first_img <a href=’;cb={random}’ target=’_blank’><img src=’;cb={random}&amp;n=ab2c8853&amp;ct0={clickurl_enc}’ border=’0′ alt=” /></a> Google MapsGoogle Maps Archaeologists believe that a deadly volcanic dust cloud volcano may have killed off Malta’s temple people.According to experts led by Professor Caroline Malone from the prehistory unit at Queen’s University of Belfast, the culture which lived on Malta over 5,000 years ago may have perished because of a dust cloud originating from one of the dormant or active volcanoes surrounding the islands.Based on their radio carbon dating of rock sediment, pollen and human bones discovered at burial sites, they have been able to uncover evidence which shows that a major climatic event occurred at 2350BC.They were also able to determine a number of problems leading up to their suspected demise. These are said to include poor diets, high child mortality and worsening soil quality. This is combined with possible problems faced by immigration to the islands.This is the latest discovery in the research being carried out as part of FRAGSUS (Fragility and sustainability in restricted island environments: adaptation, cultural change and collapse in prehistory).Prior to their discovery about suspected volcanic dust as the exhibition factor for the island’s population, they have been able to determine that there had been around 3 episodes of colonization on the islands.FRAGSUS has been operating since 2013 and has so far been examining Malta’s first human settlements which say first appeared in the 6th millennium BC. What was initially lush forest and soil soon became barren and degraded due to the civilisation’s cultivation of the land.It was through this that the team tried to determine through archaeological studies what led to its social, economic or environmental collapse.WhatsApp SharePrintlast_img read more