Benefit reforms ‘causing poverty’ among disabled people in Northern Ireland

Reforms to the benefit system are contributing to more poverty among disabled people in Northern Ireland who are now living with “real hardship”.

That’s the claim of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission’s (NIHRC) chief, Les Allamby, who says the introduction of universal credit and the sanctions regime is likely to increase poverty among disabled people.

Under a reform programme, the government is replacing Disability Living Allowance (DLA) with the Personal Independence Payment (PIP).

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The NIHRC is now calling on the UK government to do more to help disabled people in this position.

Dr Michael Wardlow, chief commissioner of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, added: “It’s more than disappointing to be re-stating our call for Government action on the many inequalities confronting disabled people in Northern Ireland.

“The process of reassessing people receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA) was commenced here in June 2017. It is reported that 36% of claimants here have been disallowed, a higher rate of disallowance than that in Great Britain, where it is 27%.

Dr Wardlow said that in Northern Ireland arrangements had been made by the Executive to mitigate the financial impact on anyone who, following assessment, had lost out as a result of the transfer from DLA to PIP.

“Mitigation measures apply to each individual for just one year from the date of their assessment. The UNCRPD Committee has stated that there should be an extension of the mitigating measures. We have called on Government before, and now call on it again, to publish full details of how it intends to mitigate the impacts affecting disabled people here after the current programme of support packages lapses.”

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