DWP plans to change PIP payments for thousands of people in Northern Ireland

Five conditions that qualify thousands of people in Northern Ireland to receive up to £184 per week in Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefits have been disclosed ahead of a proposed crackdown on disability benefits.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has initiated a green paper consultation, considering the cessation of cash PIP payments and the introduction of a voucher or catalogue scheme. The government department is also contemplating changes to the PIP eligibility and assessment criteria.

PIP currently supports more than 540 health conditions, with five main conditions receiving payouts from the DWP. In Northern Ireland, PIP is transferred and is the responsibility of the Department for Communities.

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Topping the list was psychiatric disorders, with 1,318,073 claimants (37%). This encompasses mixed anxiety, stress, depressive and mood disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and cognitive disorders.

Second was general musculoskeletal disease, with 691,660 claimants (20%), including those suffering from muscle or joint pain and arthritic conditions. Neurological diseases were third, with 434,867 claimants (13%), covering conditions such as muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, headaches, multiple sclerosis, neuropathy and other movement disorders, reports Birmingham Live.

Regional musculoskeletal disease was fourth, with 410,511 claimants (12%), encompassing conditions affecting the neck, back, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, hips, knees and ankles. Respiratory disease was fifth, with 139,059 claimants (4%), including asthma, upper respiratory tract diseases, pulmonary fibrosis and cystic fibrosis.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has stated in its Green Paper that it "will consider whether we should make fundamental changes to the way we provide support to disabled people and people with health conditions."

The paper further states: "We want to hear how the welfare system could be redesigned to better direct financial support to people with the highest costs, or to improve provision of other forms of support such as access to healthcare."

In a statement, the Department for Communities said a consultation on proposals to change the disability benefits system has been added to its website.

A DfC spokesperson added: "The consultation on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) ‘Modernising support for independent living: health and disability Green Paper’ will run until Monday 22 July 2024.

"The Green Paper explores how the welfare system could be redesigned in regards to payments for disabilities and long-term health conditions and includes proposals for reform of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) system.

"Those interested in contributing to the DWP consultation can access the link here."

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