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Monthly Archives: July 2019

Vital letters that tell disabled people they have

first_imgVital letters that tell disabled people they have to transfer to the government’s new disability benefit are being lost in the system, leading to them losing financial support for months on end, according to a whistleblower.Rebecca*, who has asked to remain anonymous, works for Serco, the company paid by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to run the helpline that deals with all new claims for personal independence payment (PIP).Rebecca has told Disability News Service (DNS) that she believes the missing letters are probably the result of the “appallingly bad” PIP CS software designed for DWP by another private sector outsourcing giant, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (motto: Tomorrow Belongs to the Fast).Her evidence backs up the testimony of Patricia Sadowski, a single mother with six-year-old twins, who told DNS last week how DWP stripped her of her disability living allowance (DLA) – which she had been granted through a lifetime award – after missing the deadline to apply for PIP.DWP has told Sadowski that it sent her a letter last November, telling her she had just 28 days to make a PIP claim, and then another letter six weeks later, three days before Christmas, to remind her that if she did not put in a PIP claim her DLA would be terminated.She says she did not receive either of the letters. Her DLA was then stopped when she failed to submit a claim for PIP.Rebecca said her experiences on the PIP helpline back up Sadowski’s claim that she did not receive the letters.She said: “Applicants often complain after being sent reminders that they didn’t get the original letter telling them to apply for PIP.“Others don’t even get the reminder, and only learn that they need to take action when their DLA payments suddenly stop.“A cynic might suggest that this is part of a systematic scheme to reduce the number of claimants, but it’s just as likely to be down to incompetence, for the computer software used by the DWP is a disgrace.”She added: “Up until around two months ago, complaints about circulars not being received were routine.”She said the situation “seems to have improved since then”, but she said she feared the problems could soon re-emerge, because several thousand letters were due to be sent out this week, telling existing DLA claimants that they have to apply for the new PIP.PIP, which is gradually replacing working-age DLA, has been mired in controversy, delays and backlogs ever since its launch in April 2013.And in February, new 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.Rebecca said the software designed by Hewlett Packard – part of an IT contract with DWP reportedly worth half a billion pounds a year – is so poor that at least once a month Serco staff are unable to process claims coming through on the helpline and have to tell callers to ring again, because of problems with the computer system.At one point late last year, the system was down for an entire day, meaning staff on the helpline were unable to process around 4,000 calls to the helpline.Last month, another serious fault with the system meant that it was down for half a day. Rebecca said software flaws mean that even after a disabled person – either someone trying to transfer to PIP from old-style DLA, or someone who has not previously claimed either benefit – has contacted the helpline to make a new PIP claim, the system could fail to send them the PIP2 application form they needed to fill out.This can happen if bank details are not typed in capital letters, if address lines are too long, if there is more than one space in a telephone number, or if there are commas in an address.Rebecca said: “If the operator doesn’t notice the submission has failed (and it’s very easy to miss) the claim stays on the system indefinitely, or until the claimant rings up enquiring about the missing PIP2 form.“By this time of course, your claim for PIP may have run out of time, which means it will be disallowed.”She added: “Looking at PIP CS, one imagines it was written by junior staff, or developers who are not very good, or simply don’t care about the quality of the product.“So-called enhancements invariably break other parts of the system, leading to a great deal of time-consuming manual work.”Serco has confirmed to Disability News Service that there have been occasions when its staff have been unable to use the PIP computer system and so cannot process PIP claims and have had to ask callers to ring again at another time.Despite this confirmation from Serco, a spokesman for Hewlett Packard Enterprise said: “Hewlett Packard Enterprise does not recognise these allegations.“We have a long history of providing quality IT products and services to our UK government customers: we always work closely with our clients to ensure that the services we provide support their policy requirements and respond quickly to any incidents raised.”DWP also insisted that there were no problems with the PIP computer system and that it was “working as it should”.When the Serco statement was forwarded to the DWP press office, a DWP spokesman said there was no need to change its own statement, but added: “Like all systems, at times there may be delays due to maintenance upgrades or other issues, the causes of which are identified and resolved as quickly as possible.“As Serco points out, the delays in this case have not affected the ability for claimants to call in, and all of those claims were processed as soon as the systems came back online.”He said that staff training includes “clear instructions” on how to “record information in a specific format”.He said: “When taking a PIP claim, staff are required to check whether each claim has been successfully submitted. “They do this using the PIP computer system and the requirement to do this for every claim is covered in training. There is also a clear process for resolving any issues.“Once a PIP claim has been made, the claimant is advised to contact DWP if they have not heard anything after three weeks.“DWP also receives daily reports from the system administrator on any failed notifications. These are marked as requiring further action by DWP’s operations team.”The DWP spokesman added: “Our mailing system clearly shows if a letter has not been issued due to a processing error.“After checking the system, we can confirm that a letter inviting [Patricia Sadowski] to apply for PIP was issued on 13/11/2015.“A reminder letter was issued on 28/11/2015 as there was no response to the initial letter.”*Not her real namelast_img read more

SF Official Grills Short Term Rental Enforcement Office

first_imgThat title reflects a new cooperation between Airbnb and the city’s tax collector wherein the hosting platform shares specific data about hosts, the number of nights they share their home and the amount of money collected. This allows the city’s treasurer to accurately calculate its taxes owed and to verify that individual hosts have already paid the taxes through Airbnb. “It’s confusing to have a website company say, well, we paid the taxes and then for us to go to the host and say well, can you prove it,” Fried said at the hearing. “As of yesterday we can say with certainty that we have that agreement and we’re really excited moving forward.”Hosts who share their home through Airbnb, therefore, will no longer receive notices from the city reminding them to file their hotel taxes monthly – a burden many casual home-sharers have faced since the city’s new short term rental regulations went into effect in February. The current legislation, however, gives the enforcement office no authority to require hosting platforms to drop hosts who violate the rules. Those hosts who use platforms other than Airbnb still need to file their taxes independently, but the tax collector’s office made this somewhat easier by launching a new category of short-term rental hosts known as the “Small Operator.”  These include any short-term rental host – not on Airbnb – who earns less than $40,000 a year from home sharing. Small Operators now only need to pay their taxes once a year and all short-term rental operators may now do so online. At the hearing, Campos pressed Guy on the size of his staff – three former Planning Department staff members have been loaned to the Office of Short Term Rentals and three permanent support staff members have been hired. “How can you realistically go after the thousands of unregistered hosts that you have out there?” Campos asked. Guy said he found his staff and resources adequate for the task assigned.Some members of the public and advocates for Proposition F, which would tighten regulations on short-term rental platforms, also worried about the short term rental office’s efficacy. “[Guy] talks about complaints since February 1st. There were hundreds of complaints filed in 2014,” said Dale Carlson after his public comment. “How are you possibly going to get a handle on that backlog with only three people?”Campos also questioned Guy on the specific goals and success metrics for the office, which Guy said he hadn’t been provided with. “I wasn’t mandated a specific metric or number,” he said. “The mission of the office is two pronged: Registration for those who want to follow the rules, and enforcement against those who don’t.”Supervisor Mark Farrell argued that the short-term rental enforcement office had been so recently formed that the current numbers of successfully registered renters is no indication of the office’s ability to do its job. “The Office of Short Term Rentals was created after February, so it was further down the line, just a few months ago, that this office was even created. When did you come on the job?” Farrell asked Guy. “Two and a half weeks ago,” he answered. Campos also pushed Guy to say whether the short term rental office would be able to do its job without being able to hold hosting platforms accountable. Under the current regulations, the office goes after individual hosts. “If there’s changes to those capabilities and procedures in the future, we’ll incorporate those in our process,” Guy said.Calvin Welch, a Proposition F supporter and longtime housing rights organizer, aligned more with Campos’ view that real enforcement capability would require authority over hosting platforms, namely the ability to require hosting platforms to list only registered, compliant rentals. “Just like when you drive a car without a license,” he said at the press conference.Ivan Abeshaus, a resident of 19th and Valencia streets who frequently rents a guest bedroom in his home, echoed Farrell’s concern that the new legislation and office simply had not been given enough time to prove its effectiveness. He said the provision prohibiting Ellis acted units from being used as short term rentals and the requirement that hosts live in their rentals were already good starts. Bad actors, he said,  are beginning to be punished. “People are getting busted. The slope is definitely in the right direction,” Abeshaus said. “The one thing I’ve learned is that it is very slow to get stuff done here.” 0% As the city makes strides in streamlining the process of legalizing short-term rentals for casual home-sharers, its enforcement against bad actors remains focused on individual hosts. Supervisor David Campos grilled the director of the city’s new Office of Short Term Rentals on enforcement at this morning’s Budget and Finance Committee’s meeting. Since its creation four months ago, the office has received 876 applications from hosts wishing to register their rentals, has approved 660 of those and rejected 190, according to its director, Kevin Guy. The office has also received 177 complaints from neighbors and residents about possible short term rental violations and it has investigated and closed 50 of the cases. In nine of those 50 cases, the office levied fines – a total of $155,000, not all of which has yet been paid. Just yesterday, Airbnb became the nation’s, and indeed perhaps the world’s, first Qualified Website Company in San Francisco, according to an announced Amanda Fried from the city’s tax collector’s office. center_img Tags: Airbnb • Election 2015 • housing Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%last_img read more

New D9 Supervisor Aims to Shield 24th St Merchants from Gentrification

first_imgThe city’s Legacy Business Registry, approved by voters in 2015, denotes businesses that are least 30 years old and have been deemed significant to the neighborhoods they serve.The proposal would also prevent new restaurants or bars from opening if such establishments make up more than 35 percent of the businesses within a 300-foot radius of the proposed business.The Latino Cultural District, a five-block-wide swath centered on 24th Street between Mission Street and Potrero Avenue, was designated a Historic District in 2014. It is part of an ongoing effort to recognize and support the many family-owned and long established Latin American businesses there – in 2011, 74 of 125 businesses on 24th Street were Latino-owned“For the first time we are using land use tools to articulate what characteristics we would like to see in new businesses coming into a neighborhood that has been in turmoil,” Ronen said.Last year, the Board of Supervisors approved a temporary moratorium on storefront mergers along the corridor, though even with an extension that has since expired. Years in the making, Ronen said the proposal has enjoyed support and input from the Mayor’s Office as well as neighborhood-based organizations and businesses.Dramatic changes along Valencia Street as well as an influx of higher-end businesses along 24th Street prompted merchants to ask for a legislative intervention, said Calle 24 Cultural District President Erick Arguello.“We look at Valencia Street, which lost a lot of their neighborhood serving businesses…A lot of small, mom-and-pop, neighborhood-serving businesses are disappearing.” “We started seeing trends,” he said, like restaurants moving into what were once two separate spaces, or landlords being offered financial incentives to remove smaller, older businesses in separate spaces to create merged spaces for restaurants. Gabby Lozano, who owns L’s Caffe at 24th and Bryant streets, said she hopes such protections will discourage new arrivals that would displace cheaper, established businesses. “The benefit that I see is that we will not have high-end businesses coming into the corridor. We will not have franchises coming into the corridor,” Lozano said. “We’ll be able still to cater to the diverse community that exists already and ou prices will be able to maintain low and mid income families around us.” Landlords, Lozano and Arguello agreed, aren’t necessarily getting the short end of the deal. The Special Use District gets grants from the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development that compensate landlords for making infrastructure improvements. The city’s Legacy Business program is also designed to provide financial incentives to landlords to continue renting to legacy businesses.Opposition to the proposed protections, Lozano said, came from developers and young, recently arrived residents. “What we saw as pushback was the development agencies,” she said. “They tried as much as possible to diminish the language so that they could come into the corridor.” The proposal, Ronen and Arguello said, is just one of many ways in which local organizations and legislators are hoping to preserve the neighborhood’s mix of businesses. “When you’re facing affordability levels and displacement levels we are, there’s never a silver bullet,” Ronen said. “The only way we’re going to address this huge problem is through the creative use of multiple tools.”The proposal must first be approved by two votes at the Board of Supervisors before going to the Mayor for final approval before it is enacted. 0% Tags: 24th Street • Board of Supervisors • Business Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0%center_img In her first move as Supervisor for District 9, Hillary Ronen on Tuesday introduced legislation that would place additional restrictions on what kinds of businesses can move into the 24th Street Latino Cultural District. She framed the proposal as an effort to support the existing small businesses in the area.“While the Latino Cultural District is a special place, it is also an area facing the brunt of the city’s affordability crisis,” Ronen said. “When we talk about affordability, we often think about housing. But small businesses are also being displaced at a rapid pace.”Ronen’s proposal, which has been in the works for years as part of an ongoing effort to legislate protections for the corridor’s businesses and residents, would require an additional city review process for certain new businesses: A Conditional Use approval would be required for any business that seeks to replace a legacy business or merge multiple storefronts for a combined size of more than 799 square feet. last_img read more

THE Red V Café Bar will be welcoming fans this Sat

first_imgTHE Red V Café Bar will be welcoming fans this Saturday for the England v France international.Open at 1.30pm until 5.30pm, you can enjoy the match on our big screen and take advantage of the great offers on Saints Gold and Fosters.They will be at just £2.50 a pint!Come on down and support your nation as they prepare for next year’s World Cup.England’s 19-man squad is:Carl Ablett, Tom Briscoe, Rob Burrow, Josh Charnley, Leroy Cudjoe, Gareth Ellis, Ryan Hall, Zak Hardaker, Ben Harrison, Chris Hill, Gareth Hock, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Michael McIlorum, Adrian Morley, Lee Mossop, Richie Myler, Kevin Sinfield, Sam Tomkins, Kallum Watkins.“We have a number of options going into the France game this Saturday and there could be changes to the side that defeated Wales last week,” said England Coach Steve McNamara. “We have healthy competition for places across all areas and no one is guaranteed their place in the team.“The players are aware of this and continue to put in the effort in training to make sure they are prepared and ready for what should be a physical battle against France.last_img read more

The 21yearold centre has played 18 times for the

first_imgThe 21-year-old centre has played 18 times for the club – including twice this season – and has scored seven tries.He made his debut in 2015 and makes the move to gain regular first team experience after also appearing six times for the Reserves.Fleming is likely to be named in Leigh’s squad to face Salford on Sunday at the Magic Weekend in Newcastle.last_img

NOAA says 2018 Hurricane Season less active than expected

first_imgWILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — NOAA announced Thursday morning that the 2018 Hurricane Season will be less active than previously forecast.The National Hurricane Center has reported four named tropical storms so far this year, including Subtropical Storm Alberto, Hurricane Beryl, Hurricane Chris and, currently, Tropical Storm Debby.- Advertisement – Get more information in the WWAY Hurricane CenterAugust, September and October are the peak months of the hurricane season but NOAA now predicts below or near normal active season with 9 to 13 named tropical storms with 4  to 7 developing into hurricanes and up to 2 becoming major, possibly none.“There is a 60-percent chance this season will be below or near normal, 30-percent chance near or above normal and 10-percent chance of being above normal,” NOAA’s Lead Hurricane Forecaster Gerry Bell said.Related Article: ‘A floodier future’: Scientists say records will be brokenBell explained the increased likelihood of the El Nino oscillation onset will likely act to weaken the basin for hurricane development. Cooler sea surface temperatures and stronger vertical wind shear will not support a highly active season.As of Thursday morning, Tropical Storm Debby is expected to dissipate or weaken into a post-tropical cyclone within the next 12 hours as it continues northeastward over the Gulf Stream.The next storm name of the season is Ernesto.last_img read more

New Hanover County GOP John McCain leaves big shoes to fill

first_img Divoky has a different appreciation for John McCain than most.“My dad just like Senator McCain was an aviator and did fly in Vietnam with McCain and that group,” he said.He says McCain was not afraid to cross party lines, especially during the past few years. Something his fellow conservatives were not always fond of.Related Article: South Carolina capitol city bans electric scooters“The last two years it’s been very interesting because he definitely did not support our current president,” said Divoky.Stephen McFarland, a history professor at UNCW, says this is a rare characteristic in our current political climate.“He was one of the last, truly great bipartisan leaders we’ve had, someone who was willing to put aside party affiliations for what he felt was right,” said McFarland.McFarland says while it’s a positive thing that less Americans are being sent to war, he also believes that it has an impact on politics.“You don’t have that veteran who’s had that experience, especially as a prisoner of war. And it so changes them, and makes them so committed to the United States and so willing to, for example, take a bipartisan stand,” said McFarland.Divoky says he’s a big supporter of reaching across the aisle, and that things worked “much better” years ago when elected officials did reach across the aisle. NEW HANOVER COUNTY (WWAY) —  Two days after Senator John McCain died at the age of 81, reaction to his death continues, including here in our area.“We’ve lost a great leader, and they’ll be big shoes to fill, but it’s time for somebody to step up and take the reigns that he once held,” said Pete Divoky, First Vice Chair of the New Hanover County Republican Party.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Traffic expected to pick up as holiday travel rush gets going

first_img Most people said traffic was not bad, but that is expected to increase later, as more people get off work.Jim Sheridan, who was traveling from Atlanta to North Topsail Beach, says he looks forward to Thanksgiving each year.“I’ve got two 4-year-olds in the car, so if it was slow-going it would have been kind of a rough ride, but, yeah, not too bad,” he said. “Traffic’s been a lot better. We usually do this every year, and there’s been years where we’ve been two, three hours later than expected.”Related Article: Bye, bye, Thanksgiving. Hello Christmas!The NCDOT says major roadwork has been suspended across the state through Monday morning.Don’t forget, you can get real-time traffic updates on the go. Just download the Waze app and join the WWAY Operation Gridlock team. Thanksgiving travelers fill the pumps at a gas station in Brunswick County on Nov. 21, 2018. (Photo: Matt Bennett/WWAY) BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The NCDOT reports that heavy traffic is expected on the roads from now until Sunday as people hit the road to visit family for Thanksgiving.Plenty of people could be seen filling their tanks and letting their dogs take bathroom breaks at a gas station on US 74/76 in Brunswick County today as they headed in or out of the Cape Fear.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Brunswick County Schools recruiting substitute teachers

first_img If you’re interested, you must have at least an associate’s degree or at least 48 hours of college credit. You also must register in advance for the session.“It is not a shortage, but out pool has decreased a little, and we want to make sure we always have a good number of substitutes,” district spokesman Daniel Seamans said.The recruitment session will be help Wednesday 1-4 p.m. at the Brunswick County Government Complex Agricultural Ext. Training Center, Building N, at 25 Referendum Drive.Related Article: Teacher writes ‘WTF is this?’ on student’s assignmentClick here for registration requirements and more information. 00:00 00:00 spaceplay / pause qunload | stop ffullscreenshift + ←→slower / faster ↑↓volume mmute ←→seek  . seek to previous 12… 6 seek to 10%, 20% … 60% Victims of Michael Kelly file civil lawsuit against former teacher, county school leaders2:02New Hanover Co. schools committee completes revised policies1:59Committee begins work with firm to redistrict elementary, middle schools2:20School board holds regular meeting amidst mounting scandals3:06Firm introduces outlook on redistricting New Hanover Co. elementary, middle schools0:26Fiction to fashion4:09Plaque commemorates historic role of Williston High School0:24’Teacher of the Week’ busy prepping students for end-of-grade tests3:13Brunswick teacher wins lottery contest, puts money towards other teacher’s project2:24New Hanover Schools hourly employees won’t get paid for five days2:14From Katy Perry lyrics to bowties, Castle Hayne teacher making third grade memorable2:53From Katy Perry lyrics to bowties, Castle Hayne teacher creates memorable moments for third graders3:05PROPOSAL WOULD REQUIRE HOLOCAUST TEACHINGS IN NC SCHOOLS0:27Snipes Academy teacher recognized as ’Teacher of the Week’2:43School board hears from private firm on redistricting0:55Two New Hanover schools to move into new buildings next month1:26Brunswisk County schools looking at redistricting two schools2:26North Carolina students invent school bus stop sign, win $50,000 prize1:37Wilmington consultant reacts to college admissions scandal2:10Will a bulletproof backpack protect your child in a school shooting?2:40Black History Month: Celebrating Fredrick Douglass3:24Local Students plan vigil for Parkland shooting anniversary3:03Crime commission panel makes school safety recommendations1:26Options expand for potential Williston High1:10Parents want Brunswick Co. Schools to reconsider field trip cuts1:53XColor SettingsAaAaAaAaTextBackgroundOpacity SettingsTextOpaqueSemi-TransparentBackgroundSemi-TransparentOpaqueTransparentFont SettingsSize||TypeSerif MonospaceSerifSans Serif MonospaceSans SerifCasualCursiveSmallCapsResetSave Settings BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Brunswick County Schools is working to build up its pool of substitute teachers.The district has scheduled a Substitute Teacher Recruitment Session Wednesday.- Advertisement – last_img read more

Flight to New York returns to ILM due to possible mechanical issue

first_img Broughton says the flight left at 4:55 p.m. and landed back in Wilmington at 5:30 p.m.There were passengers on board but no injuries were reported.Ross Feinstein with American Airlines says a maintenance team is currently evaluating the issue. American Airlines A319 (Photo: Bernal Saborio / CC BY-SA 2.0) WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A flight from Wilmington to New York had to turn around mid-flight Friday evening due a possible mechanical issue, according to American Airlines.ILM Deputy Director Gary Broughton told WWAY around 6:15 p.m. that the flight was headed to Charlotte when it had to return because of a cabin pressure standardization issue. American Airlines later told us that the flight was actually going to New York LaGuardia, LGA, and had to come back due to an indication of a mechanical issue.- Advertisement – last_img read more