Northern Ireland news

Decision to award Capita Troubles pension contract criticised

SDLP assembly member Mark H Durkan
Connla Young

A DECISION to award under-fire service provider Capita a contract to run a Troubles' victims pension scheme has been criticised.

Details of the Department of Justice decision to allow Capita to carry out medical assessments comes days after the publication of a damning report.

Last week Public Services Ombudsman Margaret Kelly found that too many people have had claims for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) "unfairly rejected".

It also found that the Department for Communities and Capita, which carries out PIP asessments, failed to seek and use further evidence in its considerations and that claimants had to challenge decisions, often to appeal "before the correct decision was made".

It added that repeated failings amounted to "systemic maladministration".

News that Capita will now oversee assessments linked to the long-awaited Troubles' pension was criticised last night.

SDLP social justice spokesperson Mark H Durkan said: "Last week the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO) published a scathing report on Capita's handling of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) scheme.

"It found that many benefit claims had been 'unfairly rejected' amid 'systemic maladministration'.

“We heard from NIPSO about how Capita had rejected many legitimate benefit claims and this week we learn they have been awarded a further contract."

Meanwhile Ulster Unionist assembly member Mike Nesbitt said: “There is a very simple answer for the Department for Communities regarding the PIP failures: get your act together and sort it out."

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