Twice as many people in Northern Ireland losing their disability benefit compared to GB

By agency reporter
November 8, 2017

Advice NI is 'shocked' to learn that figures for Disability Living Allowance (DLA) reassessment to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) reveal that the disallowance rate in Northern Ireland stands at 36 per cent, which is almost double the disallowance rate in Great Britain (which is 19 per cent).
 
In terms of impact on people, Department for Communities figures highlight that there have been 21,400 DLA reassessment claims cleared as of the end of July 2017, with 7,704 disallowed after the initial PIP decision. The 36 per cent disallowance rate for NI is also significantly higher than the estimates put forward by the Department in the Welfare Reform Equality Impact Assessment, when the legislation was working its way through the NI Assembly.

Whilst the initial PIP decision on disallowance can be challenged, the impact will prove to significant due to its scale across Northern Ireland.
 
Bob Stronge, Chief Executive, Advice NI said,“It is widely accepted that in Northern Ireland there is a higher rate of disability due the conflict, higher levels of social deprivation and ill health. There are also differences in the type of disability experienced, with a significantly higher incidence of mental health disability. This is undoubtedly at least part of the explanation as to why historically 10 per cent of the NI population was in receipt of DLA (double the GB figure). So it is fair to say that we are shocked by the figures highlighting that the PIP disallowance rate in NI is almost double the GB figure.”
 
Bob added, “The Department for Communities may say that we are at the early stages of DLA reassessment but we have to wonder is there a problem with how the PIP system is operating in NI. These are significant numbers and they do not bode well. We would ask that an urgent review be carried out with a view to correcting any anomalies in our system.
 
“There is an obvious impact in terms of financial loss and added stress on claimants. Advisers are already seeing increased demands on advice services following the introduction of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), so much so that PIP enquiries now represent over half of all social security enquiries dealt with by the independent advice sector. This figure is set to rise even higher given that the majority of the 125,000 working age Disability Living Allowance (DLA) recipients are yet to be reassessed for PIP.”

In Northern Ireland, measures are in place to support people who are currently receiving DLA and are financially worse off after they have been assessed for PIP. These measures were recommended by Professor Evason and the Welfare Reform Working Group. There is also an independent welfare changes Helpline for anyone concerned about this or any other welfare reform issue, available on 0808 802 0020.

 

* Advice NI https://www.adviceni.net/

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