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DWP failed to adequately communicate changes to Women’s State Pension age

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A COMPREHENSIVE investigation by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman has found that thousands of women may have been affected by DWP’s failure to adequately inform them that the State Pension age had changed. 

The 1995 Pensions Act and subsequent legislation raised the State Pension age for women born on or after 6 April 1950. We investigated complaints that, since 1995, DWP has failed to provide accurate, adequate and timely information about areas of State Pension reform.

The final report combines stages two and three of our investigation. It both considers the injustice resulting from the maladministration we identified during stage one and also sets out our thinking about remedy.

To date, DWP has not acknowledged its failings nor put things right for those women affected. DWP has also failed to offer any apology or explanation for its failings and has indicated it will not compensate women affected by its failure.

DWP’s handling of the changes meant some women lost opportunities to make informed decisions about their finances. It diminished their sense of personal autonomy and financial control.

However the 1950s women have said today they were floored by the insult of a compensation package proposed for women born in the 1950s, who were not told about a change to their state pension age.

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman urged government to ‘do the right thing’ today by establishing a scheme suggesting compensation ranging from £1000 to £2950. 

1950s women’s groups have long argued that their retirements were ruined by government changes to the state pension age, with the majority not receiving any notice or letter about the changes, which has cost many 50s women between £45,000 to £55,000.   For Pembrokeshire campaigners they’ve spent more than the proposed offer on train tickets to rallies at the Senedd, Westminster and Political Party conferences over the last 8 years!! 

However, today the government has said it will look in detail at the report from the PHSO, where the watchdog urged it to ‘act swiftly’.

The PHSO investigation has been flawed and full of irregularities and mistakes since its inception as it failed to take into consideration proven discrimination and only investigated partial maladministration.  Even after stage 2 the Ombudsman had to be challenged as it was deemed legally flawed.  The announcement today was as expected and the report is virtually the same as the draft report published in November.  

As Hon Dr Jocelynne Scutt stated “50s women are faced with a Government that ignores its legal responsibilities & lacks compassion. Many have died, many living in poverty, & all have suffered & continue to suffer the wrong of injustice.  Action is needed to right this grievous wrong”

We know the Judge’s Report addresses both direct and indirect discrimination on the grounds of age and sex, finding both proven in relation to 1950s-born women. It also addresses maladministration, finding it also proven in relation to the conduct or failure of the Department of Works and Pensions.

PHSO Chief Executive Rebecca Hilsenrath, said:  “The UK’s national Ombudsman has made a finding of failings by DWP in this case and has ruled that the women affected are owed compensation. DWP has clearly indicated that it will refuse to comply. This is unacceptable. The Department must do the right thing and it must be held to account for failure to do so.  

“Complainants should not have to wait and see whether DWP will take action to rectify its failings. Given the significant concerns we have that it will fail to act on our findings and given the need to make things right for the affected women as soon as possible, we have proactively asked Parliament to intervene and hold the Department to account.

“Parliament now needs to act swiftly, and make sure a compensation scheme is established. We think this will provide women with the quickest route to remedy.”  

The investigation has been complex and involved analysing thousands of pages of evidence. On a number of occasions, parties were allowed additional time to consider and comment on our views. We also agreed last year to look again at part of our stage two findings following a legal challenge. All of this resulted to delays in the final report.

The report has been laid before Parliament, with a request that it looks at our findings and intervenes to agree a remedy for the women affected. While Parliament will make its own decisions about rectifying the injustice, we have shared what we consider to be an appropriate remedy. In addition to paying compensation, we have made it clear that DWP should acknowledge its failings and apologise for the impact it has had on complainants and others similarly affected.

The Ombudsman has received a series of complaints relating to how well DWP has communicated a variety of State Pension reforms. Concerns about communication of changes to the State Pension age constitute only one such area of complaint. The Department has also declined to act on other issues that have been consistently highlighted in complaints. A report from the Ombudsman later in the year will set these out.

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Crime

Man found not guilty of stalking beauty salon owner

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FRANK JANIUREK, 43, of Heol Glyndwr in Fishguard, has been acquitted of stalking the owner of a beauty salon after a trial at Swansea Crown Court. The jury returned a unanimous not guilty verdict following approximately two-and-a-half hours of deliberations.

Janiurek was accused of causing serious alarm or distress to the woman between 25 March and 10 July 2022. The prosecution claimed that after receiving a facial treatment at the salon on 8 March 2022, Janiurek began sending numerous emails and making frequent calls to the salon, often repeating questions that had already been answered. He was also alleged to have walked past the salon daily and liked one of the complainant’s Instagram pictures using an account under a false name. Additionally, it was claimed that he stared at the complainant for an extended period while she was out in Cardigan celebrating her birthday.

Caitlin Brazel, prosecuting, argued that these actions constituted stalking, causing serious alarm or distress. However, Janiurek pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Matthew Murphy, defending Janiurek, contended that the complainant had not directly communicated her discomfort to the defendant until 1 June. Murphy stated, “She doesn’t tell him anything about his behaviour and the effect it’s having on her before June 1.” He argued that if the complainant felt uncomfortable, she should have been more direct in her communication.

Murphy also highlighted that the complainant’s actions, such as signing off emails with ‘All the best’ and stating she had an injured arm and was not taking on new clients, did not clearly indicate that she wanted the contact to end. He noted that Janiurek, who is neurodivergent and has Asperger’s syndrome, was primarily engaging with the business, not the complainant personally. Murphy emphasised that all of Janiurek’s messages were related to beauty treatments, except for one occasion when he inquired about the complainant’s injured arm.

Regarding the Instagram picture, Murphy pointed out that it was posted on the business’s account, not the complainant’s personal account.

Recorder David Elias KC, who presided over the trial, thanked the jury for their careful consideration of the case. Following the not guilty verdict, Janiurek was allowed to leave the dock, having been acquitted of all charges.

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Crime

Cannabis factory with over 800 plants found in west Wales drugs bust

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POLICE in Carmarthenshire made a major drugs bust this week when they found over 800 cannabis plants in what was supposed to be a vacant property.

A 26-year old man was arrested and has now been remanded into custody.

The police are appealing for information and have released photographs of the illicit cannabis production facility.

A police spokesperson told The Herald on Friday (May 24): “Dyfed Powys Police executed a warrant at the Mountain Gate, Tycroes, Ammanford on Tuesday May 21.

“The vacant property was found to have a large hydroponic set up inside, with approx. 800 cannabis plants seized by officers.

“One man, Beni Mirashi age 26, was arrested and was charged with being concerned in the production of cannabis.

“He appeared at Llanelli Magistrates Court on 23 May and was remanded to next appear at Swansea Crown Court on June 24.”

Police asked that if anyone has any information that may support officers in their investigation, they are asked to contact us either through a direct message on social media, online at: 
https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing [email protected], or by calling 101

Quoting reference: 24*459007

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News

Red Bull Hardline Wales confirms rider list for 2024

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RED BULL Hardline, known as the most challenging downhill mountain bike race world wide, confirms the final rider list for this year’s Wales event. 

Following its first event overseas, with a stop Down Under, Red Bull Hardline returns to its home in Wales’ Dyfi valley to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The brainchild of Dan Atherton a decade ago, 34 of the brightest and best talents in downhill mountain biking are set to descend on the north Wales course. With the 2023 event sadly curtailed by the Welsh weather, there’s old scores to settle and it’s all to play for in 2024.

Confirmed Rider List:

NameNationality
Ronan DunneIRL
Bernard KerrUK
Brook MacDonaldNZL
Charlie HattonUK
Adam BraytonUK
Craig EvansUK
Theo ErlangsenSA
Matteo IniguezFRA
Juanfer VelezCOL
Gaetan VigeFRA
Jim MonroUK
Matt JonesUK
Edgar BrioleFRA
George BranniganNZ
Sam GaleNZ
Jono JonesUK
Sam BlenkinsopNZ
Brendan FaircloughUK
Josh BrycelandUK
Dennis LuffmanUK
Sam HockenhullUK
Josh LoweUK
Taylor VernonUK
Thibault LalyFRA
Thomas GenonBEL
Szymon GodziekPOL
Sebastian HolguinCOL
Alex StorrUK
Vincent TupinFRA
Harry MolloyUK
Matteo IniguezFRA

Female riders will begin training on Monday, giving them ample time to familiarise themselves with the new course, with Tahnée Seagrave, Cami Nogueira and Hannah Bergmann all set to continue to push the boundaries of their sport once again. Louise-Anna Ferguson will be returning to Wales fresh from her success at Red Bull Hardline Tasmania, putting on a gutsy performance to finish a full finals race run despite an early crash. New to Red Bull Hardline, Vaea Verbeeck will make her first appearance, bringing fresh fire power to the women’s lineup 

Following his stand-out success at Red Bull Hardline Tasmania, Ronan Dunne will be taking to the start line with aims of achieving the double. Nipping at his heels will be three-time winner Bernard Kerr, who placed second in Tasmania back in February. 2017 champion Craig Evans is back once again and eager to replicate his success of 7 years previous.

The breathtaking race will be broadcasted live globally on Red Bull TV on Sunday 2nd June at 2.30pm GMT. Ahead of the event, fans can enjoy the week’s best action from course walk and practice on the Red Bull Bike YouTube ahead of the main event. 

For further Red Bull Hardline rider updates and for more information visit www.redbull.com/hardline and make sure to save the link to Red Bull Bike YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@RedBullBike/featured to not miss out on the week’s best action.

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