Social Democratic and Labour Party social justice spokesperson Mark H Durkan has said it is inconceivable that Justice Minister Naomi Long has awarded the contract for the running of the Troubles’ Victims Payment Scheme to Capita.
Durkan challenges Justice Minister over awarding of Troubles' victims pension scheme to Capita
He was speaking after it emerged the Department of Justice had hired the company to carry out medical assessments of Troubles’ victims before they are awarded their pension.
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. It’s the stuff of nightmares,” Mr Durkan said.
“What confidence does the Minister have that the same thing won’t happen again?”
The Foyle MLA said public representatives know only too well the impact of Capita’s handling of assessments for PIP.
“As MLAs we all have busy constituency offices and have seen the result of Capita’s handling of PIP on members of the public and their families," he said.
“We have heard countless stories of vulnerable people forced to go through degrading and humiliating assessments simply to avail of the funding they are entitled to.
“It is inconceivable that anyone who has first-hand knowledge of this suffering could then turn around and hand them a further contract involving Troubles victims.
“Minister Long really must think again to ensure that Troubles victims are not subjected to the same bad experiences as others.”