Local people urged to have their say on new benefit system

Social Development Minister, Nelson McCausland MLA.
Social Development Minister, Nelson McCausland MLA.

Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland is urging people in Newtownabbey to help shape the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment which will soon replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

More than 185,000 people are currently in receipt of DLA, including just over 7,300 in Newtownabbey.

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, Mr McCausland encouraged people in Newtownabbey to have their say.

The Minister, who is a DUP Assemblyman for North Belfast, said: “This consultation provides a vital opportunity for people and organisations 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.

Mr McCausland added: “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.”

The ‘Personal Independence Payment: assessment thresholds and consultation’ document can be viewed online at www.dsdni.gov.uk.

Any views or comments put forward by respondents will be passed to the Department for Work and Pensions for consideration.

For more information log on to www.dsdni.gov.uk, email Diane.Clarke@dsdni.gov.uk, or telephone 9081 9119. The closing date for comments is April 30.