Welfare reform causing 'hardship' for disabled in NI

Welfare reform causing 'hardship' for disabled in NI

Changes to the benefits system are imposing "real hardship" on many disabled people across Northern Ireland, UK ministers have been told.

The warning came in a joint statement from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) and the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland.

NIHCR chief, Les Allamby, said the reforms were contributing to higher levels of poverty among the disabled.

Both groups called for more mitigation measures to prevent "further harm".

They released their joint statement to coincide with International Day of Disabled Persons on Sunday.

'Higher rate of disallowance'

The commissioners have raised the issue with the Minister of State for Disabled People, Health and Work, Sarah Newton.

They said the government must take account of the "real world impact" on disabled people, including their ability "to afford groceries, heat their homes and to participate in society".

Their complaint relates to the ongoing reform of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and the introduction of Universal Credit.

What is universal credit?

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

Since June this year, disabled people in Northern Ireland in receipt of DLA have faced assessments to determine if they are eligible for PIP payments.

Three months later, the government began gradually rolling out Universal Credit across Northern Ireland.

The project, which merges six social security benefits into one single payment, was first introduced in Limavady, County Londonderry, in September.

The Equality Commission's chief commissioner, Dr Michael Wardlow, said that since June, a reported 36% of DLA claimants in Northern Ireland had their benefits disallowed after assessment.

He said this was "a higher rate of disallowance than that in Great Britain, where it is 27%".

Stormont previously introduced measures to mitigate the financial impact on claimants who lost benefits as a result of the change from DLA to PIP.

Sanctions regime

However, Dr Wardlow said the extra support arrangement will expire a year after the claimant's PIP assessment.

"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," he said.

The NIHRC's chief said he was concerned that social security reforms were "adversely contributing to high levels of poverty amongst persons with disabilities and their families".

"As levels of poverty are projected to increase, in particular through the introduction of universal credit and the sanctions regime, we are calling on the government to do more to protect this vulnerable group in uncertain times," Mr Allamby said.

He added that the government had obligations to fulfil under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability.

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ที่มา: bbc.com /มูลนิธิพัฒนาคนพิการไทย 3 ธ.ค.60
วันที่โพสต์: 11/01/2561 เวลา 10:46:14 ดูภาพสไลด์โชว์ Welfare reform causing 'hardship' for disabled in NI