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Patsy McGlone 7th November 2017

McGLONE CALLS FOR URGENT INTERVENTION ON PIP AT HIGH LEVEL MEETING

SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone has urged the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities to intervene urgently to address serious concerns about the operation of the new Personal Independence Payments regime and the treatment of claimants by some assessors with limited medical training. Mr McGlone was part of an SDLP delegation which met with senior officials at the Department for Communities.

He also attended a further meeting with senior representatives of Capita, the private company contracted to carry out assessments, this week at which similar concerns were expressed.

Prior to meeting the Department and Capita, the SDLP last week arranged a meeting with a number of advice agencies, including specialist disability advice groups.

Patsy McGlone said, “At the request of the SDLP, we met with the Permanent Secretary to outline our very serious concerns about the operation of the new PIP regime after hearing stories from claimants who had been left feeling degraded and humiliated by the assessment process.

“Deaf claimants asked to face a wall as assessors call their name. Those with complex mental health issues having their appointments cancelled at the last minute. Individuals with progressive neurological conditions, assessed by staff with no medical training relating to these complex conditions. These are nightmare stories from vulnerable people in need of support. We are hearing these stories from constituents attending our offices here locally in Mid-Ulster.

“We asked the Permanent Secretary to instigate an urgent review of the PIP assessment process, to issue a communiqué to Capita instructing assessors to treat claimants with dignity and to give urgent consideration to the development of guidelines for people with severe disabilities to be exempted from assessment - the Department has recently adopted that approach for ESA (Employment and Support Allowance).

“This new regime is causing severe stress to those most in need of support - with some 125,000 people being transferred from DLA to PIP. The least people deserve is to be treated with dignity and respect throughout the process.

“We have also met with senior management of Capita this week. They were left in no doubt by the SDLP representatives that change to the assessment process is needed and that we will not let up to ensure that the most vulnerable - mentally and physically in our society - are treated with the dignity they deserve."

 

ENDS