Video: Sickness entitlement review office closed after IRSP/32CSM led protest

An office where reviews of support entitlements for people with serious ill health are conducted, was forced to close this week following a protest. Capita, the private firm that carries out Personal Independence Payment (PIP) reviews for the Department for Communities (DfC), confirmed it closed its doors on the Strand Road on Tuesday due to a protest outside.

The decision to temporarily shut up shop followed a joint protest by the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) and 32 County Sovereignty Movement (32 CSM) that was attended by independent republican councillors Warren Robinson and Gary Donnelly.

Capita protest.

Capita protest.

Colr. Robinson, speaking outside the Capita Office, stated: “I’m here to protest against the Victorian practises taking place in this building. What is

happening here is people are being wiped off the benefits they are entitled to.

“It is causing hardship and we’ll keep coming back until these practises stop.”

A Capita spokesperson told the ‘Journal’: “The welfare and safety of visitors and staff to the centre is paramount and, so, on learning of the protest, we took the decision to close the centre.”

After the protest the IRSP stated: “The IRSP and 32CSM were joined by community groups and residents outside the Capita Offices in Derry, protesting at the ongoing implementation of Tory/Stormont Welfare reform that continues to wreak economic chaos on working class people across the North of Ireland.

“Capita, which is a private profit making organisation, was assigned by the Tory government following the approval of Sinn Féin, DUP and the Alliance Party to implement welfare reform and in particular, facilitate the changing of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) payment to the new PIP system.”

The IRSP was referring to the replacement of the old DLA sickness entitlement payment to PIP in June, 2016, which has resulted in a deeply unpopular system of rolling reviews that has seen many stripped of their entitlements.

The Derry Cumann of the 32CSM said the PIP system sought to “criminalise those on welfare as being fraudsters, layabouts and being a drain on

the economy”.

“We in the 32CSM oppose Capita and the very economic system which inherently creates and perpetuates such injustice and inequality,” the group stated.

Capita, meanwhile, rejected a claim by the IRSP that “unqualified medical assessors” were conducting some of the PIP entitlement reviews.

“Please note for factual accuracy that our assessors are healthcare professionals, including ex-NHS employees,” its spokesperson said.