McReynolds says time is running out for those concerned about PIP

Alliance Councillor Peter McReynolds has said time is running out for people affected by Personal Independence Payments (PIP), after he attended a meeting with the Permanent Secretary for the Department of Communities to raise his major concerns about the benefit.

The meeting follows a motion Councillor McReynolds recently brought to Belfast City Council, aimed at highlighting many of the issues affecting claimants of PIP living with Multiple Sclerosis, and other chronic conditions. Peter described yesterday’s meeting as “essential and productive, but also frustrating”.

And, with the current mitigation payments due to end in March 2020, Peter said time was running out for many people who stand to be severely financially impacted.

He added: “This was an important meeting and I was disappointed that the SDLP, Greens, PUP and People Before Profit did not attend given that they frequently voice concern over the impact Welfare Reform is having here.

“It was a rare opportunity to bring our experiences on the ground to those at the highest level of the Department responsible for PIP and Welfare Reform. I was relieved to hear that staff are doing what they can to help claimants access the benefits they need; however, we need concrete criteria to ensure that no-one slips between the cracks, and greater detail as to what will be the state of play for PIP and Universal Credit post March 2020 – especially at a time when it seems unlikely a Minister will be in place by then.

“It is clearly obvious that we urgently need to see the rules change significantly and the recommendations to come into force before the deadline of June 2020.

“Further, at a time when the Department is keen to portray the positives of the process, it is extremely frustrating that they had limited information around the issue of delayed managed migration, and where unable to confirm how things will pan out post 2020 for those whose circumstances change.”

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