Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has welcomed the review of equality screening processes regarding the location of medical assessments associated with Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in response to concerns raised by Sinn Féin.
The Foyle MLA said:
“Following the departments publication of screening template for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – Capita Consultation Centres Sinn Féin raised the adverse impacts facing those people living in rural areas could experience when trying to access PIP.
“As a result Sinn Féin raised serious questions with the Department as to why they had not proceeded with an Equality Impact Assessment.
“The Rural Needs Act came into operation June 2017 for government departments, Sinn Féin asked the Department if it gave “due regard to the rural needs” when developing, adopting, implementing this new policy on the location of Capita Consultation Centres.
“Sinn Féin is concerned that the proposals contained in the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) –Capita Consultation Centres may lead to a person with a disability/mental health problem being unable to make the journey to their PIP Assessment, especially for those living in a rural areas as it may be too difficult which could result in the loss of benefits.
“Sinn Féin do not want to see the most vulnerable people in our communities living in increased poverty as a direct result of these proposals.
“Sinn Féin welcome the review of the equality screening processes associated with this consultation being undertaken by the Department of Communities as a direct result of concerns we raised regarding the approach taken.
“We will continue to engage with the Department to ensure that the needs of those people living in rural communities are properly addressed.”