Disability Plan to Help a Million into Work

Disability Plan to Help a Million into Work
The BBC are reporting that the government plans to get one million more disabled people in work over the next 10 years have been set out by the government. Ministers say the new strategy will help those with disabilities keep their jobs and progress in their careers.

The new measures include widening the number of people who can issue fitness-to-work notices and additional training for mental health professionals. Labour’s Debbie Abrahams said benefit cuts had already pushed more disabled people towards poverty.

The pledge comes after ONS figures from June 2017 suggested that disabled people were twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people. About 80% of non-disabled people are in work compared with just under 50% of disabled people.

Prime Minister Theresa May said a person’s life and career “should not be dictated by their disability or health condition”.

“Everyone deserves the chance to find a job that’s right for them,” she added. “I am committed to tackling the injustices facing disabled people who want to work, so that everyone can go as far as their talents will take them.”

The government says in the past four years 600,000 disabled people have found work. However, the disability charity Scope says progress is too slow. The new strategy includes:

  • Measures to provide access to personalised support for those with mental health issue
  • Extending “fit note” certification – which details how a condition affects someone’s ability to work – beyond GPs to a wider group of healthcare professionals, including physiotherapists, psychiatrists and senior nurses
  • Reform statutory sick pay

The 10-year plan builds on a green paper published last year which pledged to halve the so-called disability employment gap. The government hopes the changes to the fit note system will improve the identification of health conditions and treatments to help workers get back to work quickly.

But some disability activists say the problem lies in employers’ attitudes. Mik Scarlet, an inclusion specialist, says he chose to be self-employed after some “disastrous attempts” at getting work.

“Employers have little idea of how beneficial disabled employees can be to a workforce,” he said. “They also don’t understand that creating flexible inclusive work systems improves the working environment for all.”

BBC disability correspondent Nikki Fox said it was not the first time the government had pledged to get more disabled people into work. However, she said “the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people has not significantly changed for some years”.

Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, Ms Abrahams, warned the government’s plans “hinted at” further cuts. “The Tories’ cuts to social security support are pushing more and more disabled people into poverty,” she said.

“The Tories have already hit disabled people who are not fit for work but who may be in the future in the work related activity group. “I hope they are not going to now target the most disabled people in the support group, as their green paper hinted at.”

Pound Rises on Hopes of Brexit Progress

Pound Rises on Hopes of Brexit Progress
The value of the pound continued to climb on Thursday as hopes rose of progress in the Brexit negotiations. Sterling hit a two-month dollar high on Wednesday on reports the UK had offered to pay up to €50bn to settle its EU “divorce bill”.

The Times also reported on Thursday that the UK was close to a deal concerning the border with Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The pound was up more than half a cent against the dollar at $1.3467. Against the euro, sterling also rose 0.4% to €1.1363. On the stock market, the benchmark FTSE 100 share index was down 25.06 points at 7,368.50.

Shares in Aviva rose 2.6% after the insurer increased its targets for growth and dividend payouts.

Outside the FTSE 100, shares in the owner of the Daily Mail newspaper – Daily Mail and General Trust – plunged by a quarter after the publisher reported a full-year loss and gave a downbeat outlook for next year.

The company reported a loss of £112m after writing down the value of some of its businesses by more than £200m, and added that expected earnings in the short-term to be “adversely affected by recent disposals and challenging conditions in some of our sectors”.

Pub operator Marston’s saw its shares jump nearly 10% after it reported a rise in full-year profits and said it was “well positioned” for growth next year.

But results from rival Greene King fell flat by contrast. Its shares dropped 2.8% after the brewer and pub owner reported an 8% fall in half-year profits and said trading conditions were likely to “toughen” in the next few years.

Google Faces Mass Legal Action in UK

Google Faces Mass Legal Action in UK
Google is being taken to court, accused of collecting the personal data of millions of users, in the first mass legal action of its kind in the UK. It focuses on allegations that Google unlawfully harvested information from 5.4 million UK users by bypassing privacy settings on their iPhones.

The group taking action – Google You Owe Us – is led by ex-Which director Richard Lloyd. He estimates the users could get as much as “several hundred pounds each”.

The case centres on how Google used cookies – small pieces of computer text that are used to collect information from devices in order to deliver targeted ads. The complaint is that for several months in 2011 and 2012 Google placed ad-tracking cookies on the devices of Safari users which is set by default to block such cookies.

The Safari workaround, as it became known, affected a variety of devices but the UK case will focus on iPhone users.

Mr Lloyd said: “In all my years speaking up for consumers, I’ve rarely seen such a massive abuse of trust where so many people have no way to seek redress on their own.” He added: “Through this action, we will send a strong message to Google and other tech giants in Silicon Valley that we’re not afraid to fight back.”

Mr Lloyd said Google had told him that he must “come to California” if he wanted to pursue legal action against the firm. “It is disappointing that they are trying to hide behind procedural and jurisdictional issues rather than being held to account for their actions,” he said.

Google told the BBC: “This is not new – we have defended similar cases before. We don’t believe it has any merit and we will contest it.”

Those affected do not have to pay any legal fees or contact any lawyers as they will automatically be part of the claim, unless they wish to opt out.

The case is being supported by law firm Mishcon de Reya, which specialises in large-scale litigation.

Although there is no precedent for such a mass legal action in the UK, there is in the US. Google agreed to pay a record $22.5m (£16.8m) in a case brought by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on the same issue in 2012. The firm also settled out of court with a small number of British consumers.

The case will be heard in the High Court, likely in spring 2018.

PT Ranson: A New Bathroom for your Home

PT Ranson: A New Bathroom for your Home

As we move forward towards the winter, now is an excellent time to consider making home improvements in various aspects of your life, and some areas ready for a change may include such all-important areas of your home as the kitchen and bathroom. If you have plans to move home or remodel a bathroom in your home, it will be helpful to know what will be fashionable in 2018 and, PT Ranson bathrooms offer such delights the range of designer showers and bathrooms available from the likes of Vitra bathrooms and Hansgrohe Bathrooms.

For those looking to move house then the evidence shows that the rooms that buyers will often scrutinize are the kitchen and bathroom. Since other rooms can be improved upon with paint, flooring or carpeting and perhaps some minor electrical work, an attractive, recently updated kitchen or bathroom is more likely to tip the scales in favour of a sale.

If you are planning to upgrade to designer bathrooms in your current home for a future home sale or for your own enjoyment, you will want to do your research and find a manufacturer of high-quality luxury bathroom fittings who can deliver exactly what you want. If you are adding a new bathroom to your current home, you will want to choose a sleek design that provides the greatest possible return on your investment, and in many cases it will make sense to upgrade existing bathrooms to ensure a similarly updated and well-appointed look. The right designer will be able to help you do just that.

People adding a new bathroom to their home or upgrading to designer bathrooms have many things to consider before going into a showroom, and it is helpful to envision the desired result before deciding between the options that you have based on space availability, plumbing and other issues. One of the most obvious considerations is what you generally want your designer bathrooms to look like. Do you have a preferred colour scheme?

What about a preference for features that will be easy to clean? Do certain types of fixtures appeal to you more than others? Next, consider how your preferences will work with the layout of your current bathroom. To what extent might the existing layout have to change? Would you be willing and able to consider a more extensive renovation that involves new plumbing and electrical wiring? Will the dimensions of your existing bathroom or planned add-on leave enough space and allow for comfortable placement of fittings and ease of movement between the tub or shower, toilet and sink?

All of these questions need to be answered before ordering your luxury bathroom fittings, and the right manufacturer will come to your home, do a walk-through and work with you to develop a design that will work with your preferences as well as any variables that cannot be changed.

Once you have gone through this initial phase of the design process, you will be able to decide on the features that you would like to include in your renovated bathroom. Popular features right now include basin-style sinks on vanity bases with additional shelving or drawers, wide sinks and mirrors which can be shared by couples in master baths, free-standing tubs, recessed spaces for shampoo and other toiletries, stainless steel fixtures and white or off-white fittings against a dark background.

If you have limited cabinetry in your current bathroom or exposed plumbing which you would like to conceal, certain luxury bathroom fittings by Kohler and others can solve both problems in the form of an equally attractive and useful vanity base which also will also make the best possible use of the space. Shower cubicles can also be an excellent space-saving feature which makes for easier cleaning.

For larger bathrooms, separate shower cubicles and free-standing tubs are an attractive way to break up a large space, and windows with a view of the treetops can make the bath experience even more relaxing. Finally, you will want to make certain that the installers are familiar with the manufacturer’s products and support services. A reputable designer will recommend knowledgeable installers who will typically bring in their own electricians and plumbers as needed for your bathroom renovation project.

Whether your home is ten years old or 100 years old, adding a new bathroom or upgrading to designer bathrooms is one of the best investments you can make in your home. The right luxury bathroom fittings will make your daily routine more enjoyable, impress your guests and put you in a favourable position to sell your home should that day ever come. You might even find that certain space-saving features are more attractive than the ones you already have. Make sure that the designer you choose can offer the best value for the design you have chosen, and your new designer bathroom will delight your family and guests for many years to come.

If you want a looking for a new shower that is truly effective that you know you can rely on check out the great range of Hansgrohe Bathrooms where they have a great range of efficient and stylish shower designs that will really give your bathroom a modern edge along with all the accessories required to make sure that you get the perfect finish, including wall outlets and concealed valves so you can get the job done exactly how you want it.

P.T. Ranson has been supplying and installing components for luxury bathrooms across the UK for over 15 years. We work with architect’s specifications as needed and are prepared to guide homeowners through every step of the process, from initial consultation and planning to final installation. Let our experts outfit your home with the luxury bathroom of your dreams in 2015. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us today on 0191 469 6999 or visit the P.T. Ranson designer bathrooms website today.

Ethical Hackers to Boost NHS Cyber Defences

Ethical Hackers to Boost NHS Cyber Defences
The NHS is spending £20m to set up a security operations centre that will oversee the health service’s digital defences. It will employ “ethical hackers” to look for weaknesses in health computer networks, not just react to breaches.

Such hackers use the same tactics seen in cyber-attacks to help organisations spot weak points.

In May, one-third of UK health trusts were hit by the WannaCry worm, which demanded cash to unlock infected PCs.

In a statement, Dan Taylor, head of the data security centre at NHS Digital, said the centre would create and run a “near-real-time monitoring and alerting service that covers the whole health and care system”.

The centre would also help the NHS improve its “ability to anticipate future vulnerabilities while supporting health and care in remediating current known threats”, he said. And operations centre guidance would complement the existing teams the NHS used to defend itself against cyber-threats.

NHS Digital, the IT arm of the health service, has issued an invitation to tender to find a partner to help run the project and advise it about the mix of expertise it required.

Kevin Beaumont, a security vulnerability manager, welcomed the plan to set up the centre. “This is a really positive move,” he told the BBC.

Many private sector organisations already have similar central teams that use threat intelligence and analysis to keep networks secure.

“Having a function like this is essential in modern-day organisations,” Mr Beaumont said. “In an event like WannaCry, the centre could help hospitals know where they are getting infected from in real time, which was a big issue at the time, organisations were unsure how they were being infected”.

In October, the UK’s National Audit Office said NHS trusts had been caught out by the WannaCry worm because they had failed to follow recommended cyber-security policies. The NAO report said NHS trusts had not acted on critical alerts from NHS Digital or on warnings from 2014 that had urged users to patch or migrate away from vulnerable older software.

Imgur Confirms 1.7 Million Users Hit by Data Breach

Imgur Confirms 1.7 Million Users Hit by Data Breach
Image-sharing website Imgur has confirmed that the emails and passwords of 1.7 million users were compromised in 2014. The data breach has only recently come to light after being discovered by security researcher Troy Hunt. Mr Hunt said he was impressed with the company’s swift response.

Imgur said in a statement that no other personal data had been taken as it did not collect information such as real names and phone numbers. “We apologise that this breach occurred and the inconvenience it has caused you,” wrote Roy Sehgal, Imgur’s chief operating officer, in a blog post.

Mr Sehgal said Imgur was “still investigating” but its former encryption method – a hashing algorithm – may have been “cracked with brute force”. That algorithm had been replaced in 2016, he added.

“We recommend that you use a different combination of email and password for every site and application,” he wrote. “Please always use strong passwords and update them frequently.”

Troy Hunt tweeted that Imgur had released a statement 25 hours after he had contacted the company. “This is really where we’re at now: people recognise that data breaches are the new normal and they’re judging organisations not on the fact that they’ve had one but on how they’ve handled it when it’s happened,” he wrote.

This month it was revealed that ride-hailing app Uber had concealed a 2016 data breach affecting 57 million users and drivers. It also admitted to paying the hackers $100,000 (£75,000) to delete the stolen data. “None of this should have happened,” said chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi.

Citizens Advice Warns about Subscription Contracts

Citizens Advice Warns about Subscription Contracts
Many consumers still struggle to get out of unwanted subscriptions such as gym memberships and online streaming services, according to Citizens Advice. Analysis of almost 600 problems reported to the service found that in just three months consumers paid an average of £160 on unwanted services. Sometimes, consumers misunderstood terms and conditions, while some companies made cancellation difficult.

The head of the consumer group, Gillian Guy, said firms must “act responsibly. Subscriptions are very easy to sign up to but can be difficult for consumers to get out of. We know people are wasting time and energy trying to cancel subscriptions while paying out of pocket,” she said.

Companies refused cancellations by asking for more notice – stretching to six months in some cases – or told people they needed to cancel through a specific route, such as phone or email.

CA said one person who contacted the service said they tried to cancel a subscription after they were made redundant, and were asked for proof from their employer – including a P45. Most payments are thought to be through a Continuous Payment Authority, where companies can change the date or amount of a payment without giving advance notice.

Frequently, consumers said they felt it was unclear they were being signed up to a recurring payment or that the contract may continue on an auto renewal basis. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, businesses can’t enforce terms on consumers that are unfair.

Professional Office Refurbishment Services

Professional Office Refurbishment Services
If your company has begun to outgrow it current workspace or looking to relocate but finding it hard to find suitable premises in the right location considering a complete office refurbishment might be the perfect solution for you. Being able to create a place to carry out your work that is designed around your company’s requirements and the type of work it carries out will not only create a far more pleasant working environment it will also help to improve efficiency within your organisation along with giving clients an excellent first impression, with the help of a company offering office refurbishment services such as Commercial and Industrial Interiors it could also be a lot more straight forward and cost effective than you may first think.

Adding items such as mezzanine flooring, demountable office partitioning or raised access flooring can help to create more space and clearly defined working areas giving you the freedom to make your building fit around the needs of your company, and with features available such as movable or folding demountable office partitioning you can even create a flexible workspace that can be altered according to your company’s requirements at that time. At CI Interiors they will be able to offer you all the help and advice that you may need to make sure that you can really make the best of any premises and create a work place that is perfect for your company.

With expert knowledge of office refurbishment at CI Interiors they will be able to manage the entire project on your behalf and will be able to give you all the help and advice that you may require to create and workspace that is suited to your company, beginning with creating a design that will really make the most of your building to the final stage of finishing touches like making sure that all the lighting has been installed correctly at CI Interiors they will ensure that the whole job is completed to the highest possible standard right down to the smallest detail. No matter what type of industry your company works within CI Interiors have all the skills and experience required to help you design and install systems that will allow you to use the best technology available to really benefit your business and working practices.

So if you are interested in refurnishing your current premises or are thinking about relocating and want to make your new premises more suitable why not find out more about installing demountable office partitioning and other office refurbishment solutions from CI Interiors? With a wide range of Office Refurbishment Services available they can offer help to most types of business and have an excellent portfolio of work showing some of the transformations they have been able to create for other organisations and with some really positive past customer testimonials they have a really good reputation for getting the job done properly , and not only will they be able to help you create a space that is more suited to your work they will be able to help you make a place that is attractive and pleasant to spend time in as well.

Commercial & Industrial Interiors are a UK Based company, who are specialists in the field of internal office building and construction, demountable office partitioning, materials handling and storage systems. If you would like more information then please call 01661 836 304 or visit the CI Interiors website today.

Google & Website Security

Google & Website Security
Because of website hacking and personal data theft in recent years, most Internet users are aware that their sensitive information is at risk every time they surf the web. And yet, although the personal data of their visitors and customers is at risk, many businesses still aren’t making website security a priority. Enter Google.

The folks over at Google are known for paving the way for Internet behaviour. Last month, they took a monumental step forward in helping protect people from getting their personal data hacked. The update they released to their popular Chrome browser now warns users if a website is not secure – right inside that user’s browser. While this change is meant to help protect users’ personal data, it’s also a big kick in the pants for businesses to get moving on making their websites more secure.

Google’s Chrome update
On October 17, 2017, Google’s latest Chrome update (version 62) began flagging websites and webpages that contain a form but don’t have a basic security feature called SSL. SSL, which stands for “Secure Sockets Layer,” is the standard technology that ensures all the data that passes between a web server and a browser – passwords, credit card information, and other personal data – stays private and ensures protection against hackers. In Chrome, sites lacking SSL are now marked with the warning “Not Secure” in eye-catching red, right inside the URL bar!

What’s the impact on businesses?
Because Chrome has 47% of market share, this change is likely noticed by millions of people using Chrome. And get this: 82% of respondents to a recent consumer survey said they would leave a site that is not secure, according to HubSpot Research.

In other words, if your business’ website isn’t secured with SSL, then more than 8 out of 10 Chrome users said they would leave your website.

What’s more, Google has publically stated that SSL is now a ranking signal in Google’s search algorithm. This means that a website with SSL enabled may outrank another site without SSL.

Cash Converters Reveals Customer Data Breach

Cash Converters Reveals Customer Data Breach
High Street pawnbroker Cash Converters has warned customers about a data breach on its website. The company said customer usernames, passwords and addresses had potentially been accessed by a third party. The data breach exposed accounts on the company’s old UK website, which was replaced in September 2017.

The company told the BBC it was taking the breach “extremely seriously” and had reported it to the information commissioner.

Cash Converters lets people trade in items such as jewellery and electronics for cash, and then sells the items on to others. It operates an online store that lets people buy items traded in at Cash Converters shops around the UK.

The online store was relaunched in September 2017, and the data breach affected only people with an account on the old website.

Cash Converters said no credit card information had been breached, and people who visited its stores but did not use the website had not been affected. “Our customers truly are at the heart of everything we do, and we are disappointed that they may have been affected,” the company said in a statement. “We apologise for this situation and are taking immediate action to address it.”