A series of recent cases has exposed the rollout of Personal Independence Payments assessments as “cruel and unjustifiable”, Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has said.
The Foyle MLA was commenting after it was publicly revealed that a number of people had been scored inappropriately with severe disabilities downplayed or not recognised.
“These cases have exposed the cruel and arbitrary nature of the assessments being carried out by Capita on behalf of the Department for Communities.
“Even against the backdrop of a welfare cuts agenda being imposed by the Tories, there is absolutely no justification for the Department to be implementing PIP assessments in this way.
“How can they give someone with ‘Locked In’ syndrome, who cannot walk, talk, see or eat, a score of six points out of ten for the level of assistance he needs with eating and drinking?
“They gave him two out of eight points on whether he needs supervision or assistance managing his therapies, two out of eight for needing assistance making budgeting decisions and four out of eight for needing support in social situations.
“That is absolutely scandalous and exposes just how unfit for purpose this system is. Assessors from Capita should not be second-guessing the medical diagnosis of clinicians as part of a box-ticking exercise or a drive to reduce costs.
“We will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Permanent Secretary of the Department and demanding an end to the roll-out of these assessments in such a cruel and unjustifiable manner.
“The Permanent Secretary needs to take full responsibility for the assessments being carried out by Capita and signed off by his officials. I am further calling on him to address the public anger and concern highlighted by recent cases by publicly stating what steps his department will take to rectify this situation.”