PIP review poses more questions - MLA

Mark H Durkan.
Mark H Durkan.

Foyle SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan has welcomed confirmation that Personal Independent Payment (PIP) claims here are to be reviewed but said that there were more questions needing answers.

The Department for Communities has now confirmed that while the recent judicial review judgment handed down by the High Court in Britain is not binding in the north, officials here are now liaising with the Department for Work and Pensions to amend the relevant legislation here. A Departmental spokesperson said: “The Department will mirror the approach being taken by DWP to revisit all PIP cases that may be impacted by the judgment. Those affected will be contacted in due course.”

Mr Durkan said: “The High Court Ruling that the PIP process ‘blatantly discriminated’ against those with mental health difficulties forced the British Government to carry out a review of all PIP assessments.

“I have been constantly pressing the Department for Communities to conduct a review here, given the much higher levels of mental ill health. This is a victory for those thousands of PIP applicants suffering from mental health conditions.

He added: “While this news is welcome, it is frustrating that people had to wait weeks for any clarity on this issue and that so many questions remain unanswered. Meanwhile claimants are left living in fear and confusion.

“We will be meeting with the Department urgently to find out how this legislation will be progressed without an Executive, how many claimants will be assessed and when, and what assurances the Department will give that no-one will be left worse off as a result of this review.”

Mr Durkan said that work to progress this review must begin immediately, adding that this could happen if a Communities Minister was in place.

“Vulnerable people in any society should be protected by those elected to represent them,” he said.

“The DUP and Sinn Fein for all their mandates, are not only failing to protect the most vulnerable, they have turned their backs on them, leaving them to pay the price physically, mentally and financially for their political brinkmanship”.