Mallon: Mental Health judgment underlines need for PIP changes
Ms Mallon has written to the Department of Communities requesting a breakdown of the number of people affected by the judgment here and a timetable for providing support to those with severe mental health problems.
“Last month’s High Court ruling was a watershed moment for the thousands of PIP applicants suffering from mental health conditions. It was a devastating critique of the blatant discrimination at the heart of this new system which appear to all observers to be fuelled by Treasury bean counters rather than supporting vulnerable people.
“It should never have come to this. People suffering from mental health conditions or those with disabilities should not be forced to take the government to court to end systemic discrimination. It is a damning indictment of the Tory attitude to the vulnerable that they allowed this case to proceed without making changes.
“I have written to the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Communities today asking how many people in Northern Ireland are affected by this judgment and how quickly those with mental health problems will be afforded the support they need.
“The SDLP has been raising significant concerns about the operation of PIP. This judgment reflects the failings in one particular area but there are many more that need to be addressed. The treatment of vulnerable claimants during assessments, allegations of inaccurate assessment reports, forcing claimants to pay for recording equipment themselves and many other issues.
“Ultimately, the only way to change the system here is for those with power to step up and start exercising it in the interests of the most vulnerable. Parties can’t continue to sit on their hands and blame the Tories when we can take action to improve the lives of these claimants. This all makes the urgency of the forthcoming talks more profound.”