The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been criticised by the information commissioner over the way it dealt with a request to reveal the identities of seven foreign governments that asked for advice on disability reform.After facing a probe by the commissioner into its refusal to release the information, DWP is now claiming that the written information it refused to release never existed.Disability News Service (DNS) has been trying since last October, through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), to secure details of which ministers for disabled people from other countries had been asking their UK counterpart for advice on issues such as social security reform.Penny Mordaunt (pictured), at the time the minister for disabled people, told MPs last October that she frequently received requests for advice from her “opposite numbers around the world” about “how to set up welfare systems and improve accessibility, employment and representation”.She claimed she was “keen to promote what we are doing” because her government’s work on disability was “a catalyst for change elsewhere in the world”.And she insisted that her government had “shown what can be done to facilitate disabled access, both physical and service-based, and how that can be achieved in co-operation with business and the third sector”.Mordaunt had been attempting to defend her government’s record on disability rights, weeks after the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities had said its policies had caused a “human catastrophe” for disabled people.Following her remarks to MPs, DNS submitted a freedom of information request, asking which countries had asked for such advice.DWP’s freedom of information team replied that there were seven countries that had approached Mordaunt, but it refused to identify them, claiming that there was “a very strong public interest in maintaining good relations between the United Kingdom Government and overseas governments”.It argued that “given all circumstances of the request, the public interest in not releasing the information outweighs the public interest for disclosure”.DNS asked DWP to reconsider its answer and to release the written requests for advice from the foreign governments, as well as Mordaunt’s replies.When DWP refused to change its decision, following an internal review, DNS appealed to the Information Commissioner’s Office.The information commissioner Elizabeth Denham has now completed her investigation and has said that she is “most concerned” about the way DWP dealt with the DNS request.But she also concluded that – on the balance of probabilities – DWP never possessed any recorded information about the foreign governments that had requested information from Mordaunt.DWP had told Denham that there had been “some confusion” around the original request from DNS, mainly because some of its staff “appear not to have made the critical distinction between recorded information and what people knew, recollected or had been told by others”.Denham said that she “questioned how the Minister was able to make a statement in Parliament without recorded information being held by DWP” but was told that Mordaunt had relied on “a briefing, some of which was written”.DWP told the commissioner that meetings were often held “on an informal basis and sometimes in the margins of other meetings and in this case that may explain the lack of recorded information” and therefore “formal invites or requests for meetings/information may never have existed”.Denham told DNS that it was “now apparent that DWP has erred in its handling of your request” and she said she was “most concerned by DWP’s handling of this request for a variety of reasons… especially given that DWP is a public authority well versed in handling FOIA requests”.In a letter to DNS, DWP’s central freedom of information team apologised “for any confusion that we may have caused you”.DWP told DNS that it was now “reviewing processes” to ensure that “everyone involved in handling FOI requests recognise the requirement to meet statutory duties under FOIA”.It added: “We accept that we may have given the impression that more information was held, which was not the case.”It insisted that “although administrative errors were made, your request was answered in good faith and in accordance with our duties under the Freedom of Information Act 2000”.It is not the first time DWP has been criticised by the information commissioner.In March 2017, Denham questioned why the government had failed to keep track of whether it had implemented 10 recommendations on improving the safety of “vulnerable” disabled people that had been made in its own secret reports into benefit-related deaths.Denham said then that DWP’s failure to keep track of its actions on “such sensitive cases” was “highly unusual”, after the department told her it had no idea whether it implemented the 10 recommendations.
SAINTS Girls under 12s are celebrating after winning their North West Region group.They topped the table ahead of the likes of Widnes, Warrington, Chorley Panthers and Leigh and will now be look forward to taking art in the Champion of Champions Festival on the July 2 at Castleford Panthers.Saints Service Area Co-Ordinator, Steve Leonard, praised the girls and the people involved at Thatto Heath where they are based: “I would like to go on record and thank you all for the hard work that has been done at the Thatto Heath Club since the day we first muted the idea some twelve months ago.“I knew from the first session that the blend was right and the people who had come forward were not only the right people but very committed people who were there for the duration. This is only the start of the bigger picture and can only see the girls section growing to have an open age section as well as good numbers throughout the age groups.“I am really confident that we can not only rival our counterparts in the RU game but surpass their achievements by making Girls and Women’s Rugby League the prime sport for women and girls in the St Helens Service Area.“The achievements to date are a true reflection of the dedication and hard work being put into the games and training sessions by the players. To have come top of the tree in the U12s section and to have players already on the player pathway is tremendous reward for their hard work. I look forward with anticipation to where the next twelve months will take us. Congratulations and well done from all at Saints.”Any girls wishing to play under 12s, 14s or 16s Saints Girls and in their famous red vee or just to get fit, enjoy training for rugby league and make new friends, then just come along on a Wednesday evening or Saturday morning to Thatto Heath Crusaders, Close St., Thatto Heath and ask for Geoff Alford.You can also e-mail [email protected]
SAINTS face fierce local rivals Warrington Wolves on Friday at Langtree Park in Round 17 of the First Utility Super League.As with all our home games this year, we have a host of entertainment both on and off the field to bring you the ultimate matchday experience, ideal for all the family.Game Schedule: Turnstiles open at 6:30pm. Live Entertainment – We have two live performances from Tenor Tom Loughlin (son of Saints Legend Paul Loughlin) and young local artist Sam Flaherty.Club Face Painters – These will be operating in the Typhoo and the Hattons Solicitors Family Stands, as well as the Totally Wicked North Stand from 6.30pm … come along and get your face painted in Saints colours for free!Bouncy Castles – these are located in both the North Stand and South East concourse.Kiosk Food – We have a great range of hotdogs, other great food and pies for you to enjoy. The latter have just been rated the best in Super League by Rugby AM. Members can get our special Pie & Pint Offer on all home kiosks for just £5 (please note the offer cover pints of Fosters or Saints Gold only).Boots – Your favourite furry mascot Boots will be in attendance in all the concourse areas from 6:30pm onwards – so look out for him and say hello!Players – We will have two members of the first-team squad down in the concourses to meet fans and sign autographs. They will be in the South West concourse area at around 7:00pm, North Stand (7:10pm) and the South East (7:20pm). The Saints Angel Cheerleaders – Will be performing pre-game.Half time – ODs Jewellrey & Watch Boutique Crossbar Challenge The match is sponsored by Arthur J Gallagher with Kingstone Press Cider as our match ball sponsor and Warrington Audi as our programme sponsor.Team NewsKeiron Cunningham has named his 19-man squad for the match. You can find out more hereTicketsTickets for the game are available from the Ticket Office at Langtree Park or by calling 01744 455 052. Price details are here.There will be cash turnstiles on the Hattons Solicitors West, Totally Wicked North and McLoughlin and Harvey East Stands.If you require a Solarking South Stand ticket then you need to head to the Ticket Office.Saints SuperstoreThe Saints Superstore is open from 9am until kick-off and then again for a short period post-match. The thirteenth edition of our fantastic match programme ‘Strength in Numbers’ will be on sale.It features an exclusive interview with Adam Swift and a look back at recent events at Langtree Park.There’s also the latest news and views from around the club, our Academy and community teams. Today’s programme is available on the concourse as well as in the Saints Superstore and is sponsored by Warrington AudiTravelIf you haven’t planned your trip to Langtree Park, then take a look at our Travel Section for the best ways of getting to the stadium.Matchday Car Parking details are here.OD’s Crossbar ChallengeThe half time crossbar game returns with participants having the chance to win £100 in ODs vouchers.If you want to take part email the club at [email protected]
The club beat off significant interest from other Super League clubs to secure the 21-year-old for the next three years.“I’ve really enjoyed it so far,” he said. “I’ve moved over here and I am living in a house with some of the other younger players.“It’s been tough but I can’t wait to get playing, I want to take my opportunities when Justin gives them to me and then work my way into the team. I can’t wait to get out there.”Bentley is a back rower who played for Oulton Raiders before progressing through Bradford Bulls’ Academy ranks.Last season he was named the Championship’s Young Player of the Year as well as gaining the Bulls’ Young Player and Players’ Player of the Year awards.He continued: “When I met Mike Rush, Justin Holbrook and the staff here I knew this was where I wanted to be.“As I player I like to get early ball from the half back and use my feet to get line breaks. I also like to work hard in defence and do my job.“I have settled in great and it is everything I thought it was going to be.”James is working hard for the new campaign, as are the rest of the boys, and Memberships for the 2018 Betfred Super League campaign are on sale now.And as well as guaranteeing your ‘spec’ for the new season you’ll receive a whole host of other benefits AND be entered into our Ultimate Fan draw.Be #saintsandproud – click here to find out more.
Saints Community Development Foundation apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.