Two private firms are set to pocket hundreds of millions of pounds more for disability benefit tests under plans to extend their contracts. Tory ministers want to let Atos and Capita assess people for Personal Independence Payments (PIP) for two more years - despite a torrent of complaints. The outsourcing giants, paid more than £600,000 to assess people for PIP since 2013, revealed they had never met their target for 97% of tests to be "acceptable". And two-thirds of claimants who appeal in full overturn the original test - more than 100,000 people to date. Yet Disabilities Minister Sarah Newton said extending the contracts will ensure "stability" as officials try to improve the service. It is the second time Atos and Capita have had their contracts lengthened. They were extended from December 2017 to 31 July 2019. Today's new extension would see them expire in around July 2021. Despite the extension, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) won cautious praise today from … [Read more...] about Private firms to pocket millions more from benefit tests as Tories extend deal
Pounds to pocket
A brainy Hartlepool man who answered the million pound question in a TV show isn't able to pocket the money. Despite giving an amazing performance on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Alan Russell couldn't keep a penny of the prize money.The former Brierton Comprehensive School pupil, answered all 15 questions correctly, but sadly the filming was a practice run and Alan took home just £80 for taking part.The clever bloke was facing new host Jeremy Clarkson in a rehearsal for the real show when he wowed the ITV show's crew with his knowledge.Alan, whose fiancé Rebecca Townes, works on the hit show, agreed to step in when they were looking for volunteers to test out the format of the show, which returns to TV screens on Saturday to mark its 20th anniversary.The 43-year-old, who now lives in Manchester and works at a bingo hall, said: “I loved sitting in the iconic chair. And to answer all questions correctly. Wow.“Maybe I should apply to play properly and see how far … [Read more...] about Hartlepool man wins Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
HOLIDAYMAKERS going abroad this summer could get more dollars for their pound if they get their travel money today. The pound has risen to the highest level against the dollar since the Brexit vote in a huge vote of confidence for Britain as we enter trade talks within weeks. It gained more than 0.2 per cent to $1.437 this morning, before falling back slightly. These are some of the rarest coins in circulation – but how much are they really worth? If the pound ends the day higher, it will have made gains against the dollar for seven consecutive trading days. The pound was also going strongly against the euro, reaching about €1.1582, its highest level since May last year. These are the rates at which banks are buying and selling the currencies between each other. Foreign exchange companies set their own rates, and often include a commission when they sell you foreign currency. Today, you'll get about 1.15 euros and 1.42 US dollars for every £1. So we spoke to some … [Read more...] about Pound to dollar exchange rate hits highest level since Brexit vote – so should you buy holiday money now?
0 Have your say It will get you a one-bed flat in central London, or a veritable mansion in the Lancashire countryside. But having a million pounds to spend on a home is not quite as rare as it used to be, according to the latest figures.If you’re one of the lucky house hunters with a seven-figure budget, the choice is greater than it has ever been.There are currently 117 houses for sale in the county which will set you back more than £1m.They range from three in the £4m-plus category, to five for a basic £1m. And one of them, a £2m snip in much sought-after Lytham, is only semi-detached.Not bad for a county where average house prices are just £168,000 and where there are currently almost a thousand for sale at less than £60,000.One local estate agent says it’s not so much prices soaring as stiff competition prompting buyers to offer nearer to the asking price.Charles Forshaw of Nationwide said: “The difference is that … [Read more...] about Lancashire’s great million-pound property sell-off
RESIDENTS of a Dorset parish dubbed 'the village of the jammed' have launched a High Court bid after the council re-routed lorries through the area's narrow streets. Those living in Melbury Abbas are raising thousands of pounds to take Dorset County Council to court over a traffic scheme they say has caused "mayhem". Officials deliberately diverted lorries through the village to save wear and tear on a nearby A-road. However, the changes - which have now been made permanent - resulted in HGVs regularly getting trapped along the narrow C13 road. On average, the village's 300 residents say they are now 18 traffic jams a week. Locals are planning to take the case to a judicial review in the High Court in London. William Kenealy, chairman of Melbury Abbas and Cann Parish Council, said: "We thought the council would see sense and bin this scheme. "We are baffled as to why they are continuing down this path. "We have tried every avenue possible but now we are being forced to … [Read more...] about ‘Village of the jammed’ will take council to High Court over “mayhem” lorry route