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Department responds to Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman investigation

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A spokesperson for the Department for Communities said: “The Department notes the proposed investigation by the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO) into the administration of Personal Independence Payment (PIP). PIP in Northern Ireland is administered in accordance with the same statutory framework that is in place across the rest of the United Kingdom.

“We value and recognise the high quality service delivered by our staff in administering the switch from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to PIP, which has been one of the most significant changes to the benefits system in a generation. We also fully understand that the introduction of a change, on the scale of PIP can cause anxiety and stress for those affected. Since PIP was introduced in June 2016 the Department has made over 180,000 decisions. Only 12 complaint cases (0.006%) have been formally referred to the Department by NIPSO.

“We are committed to ensuring we get decisions right first time and in the vast majority of cases that already happens. A number of improvements have been introduced or are about to be introduced following a number of independent reviews both here and in Great Britain to enhance the PIP customer journey. The Department welcomes any further service improvements which will benefit customers arising from the Ombudsman investigation, which are scaleable and practical within the national framework of PIP.

“In the coming weeks the reassessment of all existing 128,000 DLA working age recipients for PIP will conclude and the most recently published statistics show 78% migrated successfully to the new benefit. This is 6% higher than in Great Britain. In addition more people in Northern Ireland are being awarded PIP at the highest rate of benefit than they did under DLA. Overall 39% of PIP recipients in Northern Ireland are getting the highest level of benefit (£148.85 a week) compared to 16% of the working age DLA customers prior to the introduction of PIP.”

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