Mr Patsy McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Minister for Communities what protective measures are being put in place at medical assessment centres for Personal Independence Payments, Disability Living Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance applications for people with increased health susceptibilities. [Priority Written]
Minister for Communities: Minister Hargey’s announcement on 16 March confirmed that face-to-face assessments for all benefits would be suspended for an initial period of three months effective from 16 March, subject to review. This measure was introduced to reduce health risks to customers. Health assessments have since been carried out by paper based review, where the necessary medical evidence exists or by telephone based assessment which was introduced as an alternative to a face-to-face assessment.
I can confirm that for Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance face-to-face assessments continue to be suspended, however consideration is being given to how face-to-face health assessments can be resumed in a safe manner which adheres to social distancing measures.