Ulster Unionist Party secures key reforms to Welfare Reform Bill – Beggs

Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs has said that the Assembly’s approval of a number of his Party’s amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill will help deliver that the new system of supporting people with disabilities will now be much more targeted and effective than what was originally proposed.

Roy Beggs said;

“I am pleased that at the end of a full two days of debate on the Welfare Reform Bill the Assembly supported two key Ulster Unionist Party amendments that will now provide a more accurate disability assessment process.

“One of our changes to the Bill has now made it a legal requirement that medical reports are available and reviewed as part of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment process. This will ensure that people presenting themselves as having a disability will now have a guarantee that a medical report from either their General Practitioner or consultant will be considered by the benefit decision maker.

“This new policy will especially assist those who are presenting with poor mental health as at present it is exceptionally hard to make accurate decisions in light of relevant medical reports. Northern Ireland has been left with crippling rates of poor mental health as a direct legacy of the past, so this change will ensure that victims and survivors are given sufficient support and importantly are not forced to relive their ordeals as a result of absent medical evidence.

“I am proud that my Party also secured a change in the Bill that specifically requires the Minister to pilot the transfer from DLA to PIP. This will be crucially important in providing early information that in turn should hopefully better inform the roll-out of the policy from later this year.

“Whilst I am delighted that these two key changes were made to the Bill, I remain disgusted at the approach at which the DUP took to our other amendments. The debate got off to the worst possible start as almost 50 amendments were effectively disallowed before it had even started as the DUP themselves could override the wishes of the of the Assembly. Whilst I am glad that two of ours were left out of that shameful act, the decision to cut off legitimate democratic engagement in shaping the Bill should never be forgotten.”

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