Social security claimants urged to seek independent advice
These startling revelations have been made by Advice NI at the launch of their new Social Security Tribunal Representation Course which aims to train new representatives and enhance the capabilities of existing representatives in tribunal representation. The course aims to help learners understand the rules governing tribunals, understand the legislation governing a broad range of social security benefits, prepare submissions to tribunals and be able to represent clients at social security tribunals.
Speaking at the launch of the course, Advice NI Chief Executive, Bob Stronge said:
“People across Northern Ireland have seen a raft of changes to the social security system as a result of welfare reform, in particular with the introduction of Personal Independence Payment (PIP), the reassessment of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) awards for working age claimants and the rollout of Universal Credit. We know that people with disabilities are particularly affected, with growing concerns about the assessment process for disability benefits. According to the latest information from the Department for Communities, as at November 2017 as many as 30% of DLA claims being reassessed for PIP were disallowed.”
“We are concerned that claimants find the process for challenging benefit decisions daunting and confusing. The evidence seems to show that the introduction of Mandatory Reconsideration has significantly reduced the numbers of people disputing decisions and the number of cases reaching appeal are also significantly down – which is surprising given the impact of welfare reform."
“We want to ensure that claimants are fully aware and informed so that they can access and defend their rights and entitlements. We also want to ensure that advisers are fully equipped to assist clients right through from application to appeal tribunal and beyond if necessary.”
The Advice NI Social Security Tribunal Representation Course was launched in February 2018 and will be a core part of the training provision of the organisation moving forward.
For more information or to discuss further
T: 02890 645919 to discuss with our training team