Social Development Minister, Nelson McCausland, is urging people in Ballymoney to help shape the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment which will soon replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for working age customers.
Over 185,000 people are currently in receipt of DLA, including just over 2,700 in Ballymoney district council area. The new PIP assessment will look at the impact a person’s illness or disability has on their ability to perform a range of everyday tasks, and will replace DLA for all existing and future working age customers from 2013.
Launching a 15-week consultation on the new system for assessing the impact of an individual’s condition on their daily lives, and the proposed scores which will determine eligibility and payment rate, Minister McCausland encouraged people in Ballymoney to have their say.
The Minister said: “I welcome this consultation; it provides a vital opportunity for people and organisations in Northern Ireland to study the proposals for the Personal Independence Payment assessment carefully and make their views known.”
The consultation also seeks views on whether further changes are required to the assessment criteria and whether the criteria reflects individual needs, for example, how the criteria will apply to individuals with fluctuating conditions.
The Minister added: “Evidence from cases in Northern Ireland has already been used to develop the new PIP assessment. However, responses to this consultation will also play an important role in determining how the new assessment criteria will affect people in Northern Ireland.
“It is widely accepted that there are significant differences in some of the conditions which lead to people claiming DLA in Northern Ireland, in comparison to other parts of Great Britain, and I am keen to ensure that the specific circumstances of Northern Ireland are taken into account when policies that are likely to affect them are being crafted in Westminster.
“I support the reform of the benefit system where it seeks to support people back into work, and where it offers help to those who are genuinely in need of financial assistance. However, we need to ensure that these reforms take into account the specific circumstances of the people of Northern Ireland.”
Any views or comments put forward by respondents in Northern Ireland on the consultation entitled, ‘Personal Independence Payment: supplement to the second draft of the assessment criteria’, will be passed to the Department for Work and Pensions for consideration.
An electronic version of the document is available to view or download from the Department’s website at: http://www.dsdni.gov.uk/index/consultations/consultation-pip.htm
Respondents should send comments to:
Mrs Diane Clarke
Social Security Policy and Legislation Division
Department for Social Development
Level 1, James House
2-4 Cromac Avenue
Gasworks Business Park
You can also e-mail: Diane.Clarke@dsdni.gov.uk, telephone: 028 9081 9119 or fax: 028 9081 9139. A text phone service is available on: 028 9081 9140. The closing date for comments is the 30 April 2012.