‘PIP reforms are hurting local people’

Patsy McGlone MLA.
Patsy McGlone MLA.

Vulnerable Mid-Ulster residents are being put under a lot of pressure since the introduction of PIP and Universal Credit, an MLA has stated.

SDLP Mid-Ulster representative, Patsy McGlone says he is being contacted on a daily basis by people who are facing difficulties since the benefit reforms were implemented in the region.

Speaking to the Mail, Mr McGlone said: “I am being inundated with people highlighting issues surrounding the system.

“Many of the people who have been in touch are suffering from anxiety and depression and the nature of the complex process is creating additional stress.

“The claimants are being assessed by strangers, which is also adding to the stressful situation.”

He added: “The benefits are allocated on a points-based system, with people being awarded points for the use of aids such as rails and handles in their homes.

“These can not be disputed and should allow for points, but I am aware of people who have received no points, even though they rely on the use of aids.

“This is a policy driven to a Tory agenda to lessen the expenditure on benefits. This is irrespective of whether the person should be getting the benefit or not.”

Universal Credit was rolled out across the Cookstown area on November 14.

Mr McGlone said he was aware of a number of people experiencing financial pressures since it was introduced.

He stated: “I would urge people to seek advice from specialist agencies about Universal Credit before going and making a claim.

“There are people who would be on ESA, Job Seekers or in receivership of tax credits. If their application for Universal Credit is unsuccessful, they could be out of a lot of money.

“This will hurt the most vulnerable and people with serious health problems. If anyone has concerns about the changes, please contact me on 02886758175.”