Northern Ireland news

Stormont department criticised for 'wall of silence' on PIP report

SDLP deputy leader Nicola Mallon
Brendan Hughes

BENEFITS claimants are being left "in the dark" by a Stormont department following a report calling for reforms to the Personal Independence Payments (PIP) system, an MLA has said.

SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon accused the Department for Communities (DfC) of a "wall of silence" two months on from the independent review's release.

The Walter Radar report was published in June and recommended a series of changes to the PIP assessment process following numerous concerns.

Ms Mallon urged DfC to respond to the review, saying it "made a number of important recommendations".

"It confirmed what many of us working to support claimants have known for some time. The PIP assessment process does not have the confidence and trust of claimants or the public," the North Belfast MLA said.

"Two months on, despite several requests, we continue to be met with a wall of silence from the Department for Communities.

"This delay in issuing any response is doing nothing to build the trust, openness and transparency needed in the PIP process. It is leaving worried claimants in the dark.

"PIP claimants and the public need to hear from the department. They deserve to know its response to each of the 14 recommendations and the timeframe for implementation without any further delay."

A DfC spokeswoman said the department is "fully considering all of Mr Radar's findings and will publish a response in the autumn".

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