Belfast Telegraph

Monday 30 May 2016

People injured in Troubles could have a better chance of keeping disability payments than others, according to Stormont report

Published 20/01/2016

General views of Parliament Buildings, at Stormont. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
General views of Parliament Buildings, at Stormont. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

People injured in the Troubles could have a better chance of keeping their disability payments than those disabled for any other reason, according to a report commissioned after Stormont's Fresh Start deal.

It comes as the Executive has agreed to allocate £585m over four years to top up UK welfare arrangements in Northern Ireland, with a review in 2018/19.

A series of proposals have been set out in a report commissioned after Stormont's Fresh Start deal to cushion the effect of long-delayed benefit changes.

The Stormont-ordered review said that Northern Ireland's welfare system will be the most protective in the UK.

Among the proposals are potential changes to allocation of Disability Living Allowance (DLA).

Universal Credit is replacing a number of benefits and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) claimants are expected to move over to Personal Independent Payments (PIPs) over a three-year period.

Some receiving enhanced disability payments could lose out from the shift from DLA to PIPs, and the report by renowned benefits specialist professor Eileen Evason, recommended automatic supplementary payments to those eligible - covering the shortfall for up to one year.

They would kick in once losses are worth more than £10 a week and be expected to cover three quarters of the loss.

The report includes a proposal that claimants who have a conflict-related injury and are deemed ineligible for the new Personal Independence Payments should get extra points to help them qualify for help.

Debating the issue on the BBC Stephen Nolan Show this morning commentator Eamonn McCann said: "You cannot have any benefit or anything else going to victims if you are going to pick and choose who they are.

"The minute you begin to talk about who is entitled to compensation or sympathy over the course of the Troubles - some people will say that should apply to such and such."

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