Saturday, 1 December 2012

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

On Friday morning (30 November) I spoke at the annual meeting of Advice NI, the independent advice network, which was held at Templepatrick.  It was an opportunity to give a keynote address on where we are as regards welfare reform.  I will post the full text of the speech separately but I want to highlight a particularly important section on the migration from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment.

Welfare reform is necessary and will bring much that is positive, but, I do not underestimate the challenges we will face to manage the transition.

One aspect of the reform programme on which I have significant concerns relates to Personal Indpendence Payment. and the proposed managed migration of the 120,000 working age customers currently receiving Disability Living Allowance.

I have previously set out some of my concerns publicly that this aspect of PIP is driven primarily by the need of the Westminster coalition government to save money.  I would reiterate today my concern that this migration could have a real negative impact in some of our most deprived communities at a time of economic hardship.  I have asked my officials to develop an understanding of the potential impact on the most deprived areas and I do believe there is a case for delay in the migration of  PIP to at least allow for economic conditions to improve.

This does not take away from the fact that the Disability Living Allowance is no longer fit for purpose, which drives perverse behaviours and does not ensure that the available financial support is getting to the right people.  People with a disability deserve to have the same type of conversation that we are intending to have with other benefit claimants to maximise their potential whilst ensuring that the right level of financial support is available.

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