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Somerset County joins opioid settlement, ready to receive millions


Somerset County signed a billion-dollar national opioid settlement, paving the way for the county to receive millions over several years.

Earlier this month, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announcement that Somerset and nine other Pennsylvania counties agreed to the $26 billion settlement with Cardnial, McKesson and AmerisoucreBergen — the county’s three major pharmaceutical distributors — and Johnson & Johnson.

The settlement stems from claims by state and local governments regarding the role of corporations in the opioid epidemic. It was announced in July.

“I’m encouraged to see so many counties sign on to this landmark settlement that will provide millions of dollars in resources starting next year to address this crisis,” Shapiro said. “There is still time for the remaining local governments to join in and I urge them to do so. This settlement will give communities the capacity and resources to save lives now.”

Sixty of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties have accepted the settlement so far.

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According to Somerset County Commissioner Pamela Tokar-Ickes, the county will receive approximately $2.9 million over the next 18 years.

Tokar-Ickes said Somerset County is due to receive $690,000 of those funds this year. She noted that while they haven’t decided how to spend this money, it can be used for the following programs:

  • To expand/support the use of naloxone and physician-assisted treatment, aka MAT).
  • Treatment and screening of pregnant or postpartum women and babies.
  • Warm transfers.
  • Treatment of the prison population.
  • Prevention/education.
  • Syringe service programs.
  • Data collection and research.
  • Enveloping services.
  • Improve links with care.
  • Drug courts/diversion programs.
  • Risk reduction strategies.
  • Support first responders.
  • Planning/Coordination.
  • Coaching.

“The Commissioners have had preliminary discussions with the County of Somerset Single County Authority about the settlement and are currently working together to develop a funding process to apply the funds into strategies that will meet the prevention and treatment priorities of the Somerset County,” Tokar-Ickes wrote in an email to the Daily American.

“We will receive $690,000 in 2022 and expect to receive the funds later this year. These funds are in addition to current or future funding received from the state for prevention and treatment and additional regulations along with other distributors could follow.”

Follow Eric Kieta on Twitter at @EricKietaDA.

Court rejects challenge to CFPB payday rule overturning


A district court has dismiss a challenge by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) to the repeal of the underwriting provisions of its 2017 Payday Rules. The CFPB payday loan rule has a long and troubled history. The rule, first promulgated in 2017, had two main prohibitions – a prohibition on making payday loans without assessing a borrower’s ability to repay (the “underwriting provisions”), and a prohibition on withdrawing funds from a payday customer’s account without the customer’s consent after two years of consecutive failed loans Attempted Withdrawals (the “Payment Terms”). Shortly after the rule was promulgated, two industry bodies sued to challenge both aspects of the rule. Then CFPB leadership changed and the parties agreed to keep the rule’s fulfillment date while the CFPB considered what changes, if any, to make to the rule. In 2020, the then-new leadership repealed the rule’s actuarial provisions, but left the payment provisions untouched. The lawsuit by the industry was thus limited to the payment provisions that still exist; A district court upheld these provisions against the trade associations’ challenge, but the compliance date has been pushed back pending a decision on the trade associations’ appeal.

Meanwhile, an association of community and economic development organizations sued to contest the repeal of the original rule’s underwriting requirements in 2020. This lawsuit has now been dismissed for lack of legal standing, with the district court finding that the plaintiff association did not suffer any recognizable damage as a result of the abolition of the insurance provisions. Of course, the CFPB leadership has changed again in the meantime; it may be that the CFPB will try again to announce some form of subscription restrictions. Even without the payday rule, the CFPB did clear that credit products that are “not underwritten on the basis of the consumer’s likely ability to make the required (or, in the case of variable rate products, potentially required) payments over the life of the loan” reflect an increased risk of unfair, deceptive intent may or abusive acts or practices.

So where are things?

  • The actuarial provisions of the original payday rule were repealed and the challenge to that reversal was dismissed. The actuarial provisions are therefore no longer in place. But, of course, this dismissal is subject to appeal, and the new CFPB leadership could try again to enforce actuarial provisions through new rulemaking. And the CFPB could continue to pursue certain behaviors through its general UDAAP agency.
  • The terms of payment have been complied with. However, the compliance date for these provisions has been suspended pending a decision on the industry bodies’ appeal against that decision.
  • Bottom Line: More than four years after the Rule was promulgated, none of its provisions are currently in effect.

Schools in England ‘must reform the way children learn to read’


The way children learn to read in England needs urgent reform, more than 250 experts said in a letter to the government.

According to research by academics at UCL England, teachers now focus more on teaching children to read by mixing sounds – known as synthetic phonics – than on reading and appreciating entire texts.

UCL researchers have joined more than 250 signatories to an open letter calling on the UK government to change its policy on reading.

In the letter, they demand that the reforms “focus on a broader range of approaches to teaching phonics and reading, allowing teachers to use their own judgment to determine what is best for their students. students”.

For the first time in over 100 years, we find that a balanced pedagogical approach to teaching reading is no longer the norm in England

He adds that children should learn phonics as part of reading whole texts and that teachers should be able to use their own judgment to decide what is best for students.

Co-author Professor Dominic Wyse, head of the learning and leadership department at UCL’s Institute of Education, said teaching children to read is “crucial” to improving their life chances. life.

“Teaching children to read and make sense of texts is crucial to improving their chances in life and is one of the most important tasks of primary schools and early childhood settings,” he said. .

“While England’s current approach to teaching reading has some strengths, our new research shows government policy is misinformed as it is not supported by the latest strong evidence.

“For the first time in over 100 years, we find that a balanced pedagogical approach to teaching reading is no longer the norm in England.”

Professor Wyse said teachers now use the “narrower” synthetic phonetics approach more frequently.

“Our view is that the system does not give teachers enough flexibility to do what they think is best for their students, or to encourage students to enjoy reading,” he added.

The research found that 66% of 634 teachers who answered a question on the topic said synthetic phonics was their main focus, compared to 1% (nine) who said they focus on whole texts.

In line with the evidence, our reading tips make it clear that phonics is just one part of becoming a fluent reader.

The phonetic screening check, administered to 2nd grade students, proved highly unpopular with teachers interviewed by the study.

Some 935 of the 936 written comments from the teacher survey were negative about the test.

Commenting on the UCL paper on the government’s approach to teaching reading, Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, said it was important that phonics be combined to help children develop a love of reading.

“There is clear evidence that synthetic phonics provides a strong foundation for helping children learn to read,” she said.

“But it’s important that this is combined with approaches that help children enjoy stories and develop a love of reading.

In a press release, the Ministry of Education defended the use of phonics to teach children to read.

A department spokesperson said, “We are committed to raising literacy standards by following the evidence. The systematic teaching of phonics has proven worldwide to be the most effective method of teaching children to read.

“Since the introduction of the phonetic screening test in 2012, the percentage of first graders reaching the expected standard in reading has increased from 58% to 82%, with 92% of children reaching that standard in second grade.

“Consistent with the evidence, our reading guidance makes it clear that phonics is just one part of becoming a fluent reader. In addition to teaching phonics systematically, teachers should also focus on speaking and reading stories to foster a love of reading in children.

The railway on track for an exceptional year


The West Somerset Railway had a much better year in 2021 than expected, despite Covid-19 problems, and now appears to be on track for full service this year, chairman Jonathan Jones-Pratt said this week.

Due to lockdowns and a late start to his schedule, officials had forecast a loss for last season of well over £250,000. In fact, this has been reduced to £55,000.

A record month of Santa Specials and new Winterlights trains brought in around £271,000. “Of that, £204,000 was a clear profit and an incredible success,” Mr Jones-Pratt said.

He added, “I have to say a big ‘thank you’ to all of our employees and volunteers who have worked tirelessly for the railroad over the past season.

“Overall the income from the Christmas season has provided a lifeline for WSR and should mean we can reopen for a full season this year with confidence. This was achieved by an extremely hardworking team and means the business is in good shape.

The company and its two supporting charities – the West Somerset Railway Association and the Heritage Trust – had agreed to put aside past difficulties to work much more closely together, he said.

With work on the new Seaward Way level crossing in Minehead completed, staff training was underway and services are expected to return to normal in the spring. Mr Jones-Pratt added: “We are really looking forward to an exciting 2022.”

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‘Encouraging data’: South Somerset sees drop in Covid cases


South Somerset has seen a 39% drop in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the last seven-day period compared to the previous week.

A total of 1,298 people had a confirmed positive test result in the district between Tuesday January 11 and Monday January 17, according to the government’s coronavirus dashboard.

In the UK, 700,366 people tested positive over the same period, a decrease of 41.7% (501,197) from the previous seven days.

Three deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid test were reported in South Somerset between January 11 and 17.

A total of 1,845 deaths have been reported across the UK, an increase of 38.7% from the previous seven days.

With the number of confirmed Covid cases falling nationwide, the government is debating whether it can lift England’s Plan B restrictions on Wednesday January 26, when they are due to expire.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman yesterday said there were ‘encouraging signs’ in the data and said ‘maximum time’ would be given to prepare for any changes to the rules.

“In terms of data, there are encouraging signs that infections are declining across the country,” the spokesperson said.

“Obviously we also want this to be reflected in the latest data from the ONS.

“There are also signs of drops – or at least plateauing – in hospital admissions and occupancy, which is good to see.

“But the fact remains that our NHS is under significant pressure.

“There are over 16,000 Covid patients in hospital in England alone.

“So we’re monitoring the data very closely, but we believe the mitigations we’ve put in place – particularly our recall program – provide massive protection for the public.”

Professor Mike Tildesley of the University of Warwick, who is a member of the Pandemic Influenza Modeling Science Group, said the data indicates the Omicron wave could “turn around”.

He said: ‘Hospital admissions are still relatively high, although there is evidence they may be leveling off or possibly falling in London, which is cautiously good news.

“I would say we probably need about an extra week of data to really see the effect of kids going back to school – we’re still only two weeks away since kids went back to school – but if we still see that over the next week or so, I’d be pretty confident that we see that wave turn around.

This morning Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab slammed as ‘nonsense’ an allegation by Dominic Cummings that Boris Johnson misled the House of Commons at a drinking rally in Downing Street.

DEPUTY: Justice Secretary Dominic Raab responded to Dominic Cummings’ comments on ‘partygate’ (Image: Stefan Rousseau, PA Wire)

Mr Cummings, the PM’s former chief adviser, said he was prepared to ‘swear under oath’ that Mr Johnson lied when he said he had no knowledge of the event – ​​​​to be held on May 20, 2020 – would be an advance ‘drink party’. .

Mr Raab told Times Radio: “The suggestion that he lied is nonsense.

“He made it very clear in the House of Commons that questions about it, that he thought it was a work event.”

When asked what would be expected if Mr Johnson had lied in the House of Commons, Mr Raab said ‘it would normally be, under the ministerial code and the governance around Parliament, a matter of resignation”.

Read more: Sturgeon ‘cautiously optimistic’ amid calls to end Covid restrictions

Read more: Covid-19 could turn children into picky eaters, experts suggest

EFL scrambles to resolve Derby County administration ‘impasse’


The EFL says it is determined to resolve “a complex legal situation” which threatens Derby’s bid to find a buyer and leave administration.

Derby took office last September and were awarded 21 points for breaching EFL financial rules.

The Sky Bet Championship club’s directors are said to be in talks with three potential buyers, but were unable to name a preferred bidder due to the threat of legal action against Derby by two other clubs.

Middlesbrough and Wycombe are seeking compensation for loss of profit linked to Derby’s financial failings and the potential new owners are reluctant to take on other liabilities.

The EFL said in a statement on its official website: “The current situation remains difficult as Middlesbrough and Wycombe Wanderers consider that their claims should be protected under insolvency policy. The administrators disagree.

“Furthermore, as these claims are not yet determined, the administrators and bidders have no clarity on the size of any liability (if any). This has implications for the output of the administration and, ultimately account, so that the club can maintain its membership status (of the Football League).

The EFL said Derby considered the claims “untrue”, but current bidders “seem unwilling to take the risk of defending them”.

Middlesbrough and Wycombe fear their rights will be affected if Derby can “extinguish or impair claims” using the insolvency process, the EFL has said.

“The EFL are keen to try to resolve the current impasse. The EFL invited each of the trustees, Middlesbrough FC and Wycombe Wanderers to make submissions on this point last week, and we are now considering those submissions. with a view to identifying a way to resolve the conflict which exists between the respective positions of, on the one hand, Derby County, and on the other, Middlesbrough and Wycombe Wanderers.

“Trying to simplify what is a complex legal position is neither simple nor straightforward, but we are committed to finding an appropriate solution and clarifying the matter as soon as possible.”

The EFL last week asked Derby’s administrators to provide updated financial details on how the club plan to fulfill their remaining fixtures this season and set an extended deadline of February 1.

“While potential funding options were presented by the directors, they could not give the necessary assurances that funding was secured to enable the club to complete the season,” the EFL added.

“As a result, the League has decided that the club should not be allowed to register new players until the necessary funding is in place. The deadline for the availability of capitalized plans has been further extended to February 1. 2022.”

Former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley and a separate consortium led by former Derby chairman Andy Appleby are said to be interested in buying the Rams.

Wayne Rooney’s side climbed from the foot of the table after beating Sheffield United on Saturday – they have dropped just two points in their last five games – and are eight points from safety.

Payday loan victims have only a few days left to receive their final payout


Customers who have fallen victim to a bad payday loan only have a few days to ensure they get some money back before their lender goes bankrupt.

Cash settlement payments are sent to thousands of customers who have taken out loans Money Shop, Payday Express and Payday UK Customers.

But watch your bank account because if you don’t receive your payout by January 20th, you’ll be late.

Find the very latest breaking news from across the Northeast

After this date, Instant Cash Loans (ICL) parent company will be liquidated and you will no longer be able to receive the money, so you must notify ICL if you have not received your payout.

Borrowers have also been warned that if they didn’t file a claim last year, it will now be too late to start.

If your application was accepted last year, the amount you receive this time will be much smaller than the first payout received in May or June.

And borrowers are receiving much less cash compensation than the amount they were loaned, as the £18million made available by the three lenders’ parent Instant Cash Loans (ICL) affects nearly two million customers must be divided.

ICL has agreed to pay just 4.31p for every £1 borrowed in the first payment and 0.65p for every £1 borrowed over the second cash payment.

ICL stopped making new loans to borrowers in August 2018 and announced a compensation scheme for customers who missold loans prior to October 2019.

A number of other high-profile firms including Wonga, QuickQuid and Peachy have also collapsed, leaving thousands of customers without full compensation for badly sold loans.

The financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, has been asked to fill this loophole to protect customers.

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UK will have ‘flu-like’ relationship with coronavirus by year’s end, says government adviser


Dr Mike Tildesley, of the University of Warwick and a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modeling Group (Spi-M), said the latest Covid-19 case figures were “cautious good news” which could indicate that the Omicron wave “rotates about”.

Asked about the latest UK data, he told BBC Breakfast: “I would cautiously say good news – it looks like across the country cases seem to be coming down.

“We had very, very high case numbers in late December and early January – we peaked at around 200,000 at one point. Now we seem to be a bit beyond that.

“Hospital admissions are still relatively high, although there is evidence that they may be leveling off or falling in London, which is cautiously good news.

“I would say we probably need about an extra week of data to really see the effect of kids going back to school – we’re still only two weeks away since kids went back to school – but if we still see that over the next week or so, I’d be pretty confident that we see that wave turn around.”

Asked if the changes in the testing rules may have contributed to the drop in cases, he added: “Yesterday was a Sunday and we were in the region of 70,000 (cases), which is much lower to previous Sundays, so I think even taking into account any changes in testing, I think it’s pretty clear that the Omicron wave is slowing down.”

Second owners expect £191m windfall from Omicron grants


Second home owners who have turned their holiday homes into rental businesses are set to get around £191m in new pandemic grants from the government, despite a new crackdown.

Councils across England have started handing out £635million in grants to businesses hit by the government’s Plan B restrictions and caution over the spread of the Omicron variant.

However, new analysis by property tax specialists at Altus Group has revealed that almost a third of this funding pot will go to owners who have reversed their holiday pensions.

The consultancy said holiday home owners are able to save tens of millions of pounds by taking advantage of the government‘s small business rate relief scheme while paying little or no tax.

Holiday home owners who make their properties available for rental for 140 days of the year are entitled to claim 100% relief from small business rates if the properties have a rateable value of less than £12,000, meaning they pay no corporate rate or council tax.

Hospitality, leisure and accommodation businesses that have been impacted by Omicron can now apply for one-off grants of up to £6,000 for each of their properties, depending on the assessment of its business rates, after the government provided funding to councils last week.

Those business premises, which specifically cover holiday homes, with a rateable value of exactly £15,000 or less will receive a payment of £2,667 while those with a rateable value of over £15,000 but less than £51,000 £ will receive £4,000.

The maximum grant of £6,000 is available to companies occupying properties with a rateable value of exactly £51,000 or more.

Altus said there were now 70,729 homes in England classed as holiday homes that have been turned into “business” premises, up from 56,102 just before the pandemic started in March 2020, and are now entitled to 190 £.61 million in Omicron grants.

The government has announced that from April 2023, in order to access the relief, owners of second homes will have to prove that holiday rentals are not only made available for 140 days a year, but are also actually rented for a minimum of 70 days per year.

Robert Hayton, UK chairman of Altus Group, said: “This change will mean second home owners will no longer be able to avoid paying business rates or council tax and will be entitled to business support by simply stating that their property is available for rent but making little or no effort to let it out.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Leveling Up, said: “We will not sit idly by and allow people in privileged positions to abuse the system by unfairly claiming tax breaks and leaving local people to count. the cost.”

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‘We have stuck to the spirit and the letter of the rules’ – TV presenter holds back tears as he recalls daughter’s death


A TV presenter has fondly recalled how her family stuck to “the spirit and the letter of the rules” despite losing their daughter during lockdown.

Sky News presenter Trevor Phillips fought back tears as he recalled his daughter’s death as he questioned a senior Tory MP about ‘partygate’.

The broadcaster could be seen trying to hold back his emotions as he challenged Oliver Dowden, one of the party’s co-chairs, to find out if the Prime Minister understood the public’s anger over the rallies in Downing Street during the lockdown.

Speaking on Trevor Phillips on Sunday, he recalled receiving a phone call in April 2020 to tell him his daughter had collapsed.

He went on to say that she died the next morning.

Mr Phillips said: “You’ll forgive me, I talked about it once on this show and hoped I never had to do it again, but I think there are thousands, millions of people across the country who will feel, frankly, a bit like me.

“Let’s go back to this weekend of April 17/18, and I just want to say something about what I did during this week and other people will have the exact same story.

“That week I saw my two daughters outside several times – one was pregnant, the other was very ill.

“Their mother, their mother-in-law and I were not allowed to meet them together. We all stuck to the spirit and the letter of the rules.

“On Saturday, after watching Prince Philip’s funeral, I went to one of my friends’ 70th birthday parties. He rented a tent, he has plenty of friends, but he rented a tent for only six of us so we could sit outside, he complied with the spirit and the letter of the rules.

“And at dinner, I get a call, my daughter has collapsed and, as you know, she was isolated for months, she was sick.

“The next morning she was dead and she had complied with the spirit and the letter of the rules, and there will be thousands of people who will have this story in their past and, if I may say so, you are here telling me about an official’s investigation, that won’t answer that anger.

“Does the Prime Minister really understand why people are angry?

Sky presenter Trevor Phillips as he quizzes Conservative party chairman Oliver Dowden

Minutes later, in an interview with Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting, the reporter apologized.

He said: “I apologize to the viewers if I brought anything personal into this discussion, let’s try to stay on top of that.”

But Mr Streeting said: ‘By the way, Trevor, I don’t think you should apologize for speaking out about your personal pain because millions of people across the country are having the same conversation.’

Responding to Mr Phillips, Mr Dowden said he was ‘disgusted’ that there were parties at Number 10 ahead of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral.

Olivier Dowden
Chairman of the Conservative Party Oliver Dowden

He said: “We all shared and respected the tremendous dignity and selflessness the Queen showed on this occasion, as she has throughout her reign.

“I was disgusted that there were parties before this profound event of national mourning in the history of our nation.

“It shouldn’t have happened and it was wrong, they already apologized for it. It was just wrong and it shouldn’t have happened.

He added: “In order to move on, we first need to establish all the facts of what happened in all the different alleged events that took place and that is the purpose of the Sue investigation. Grey.

“The next step is then for the Prime Minister to come to the House of Commons to give a full answer, to be held accountable.

“I can tell you that the Prime Minister is genuinely committed, both in showing his remorse and his apologies for what happened, but also in taking action to ensure that we tackle the type of culture to Downing Street who allowed something like this to happen, which clearly should never have happened in the first place.

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