Mr Patsy McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Minister for Communities to outline her plans to address the backlog of outstanding Personal Independence Payment appeals.
Minister for Communities: My department continues to list benefit appeals, including PIP appeals, for hearing despite the challenges faced as a result of the pandemic.
To maximise listing capacity TAS has introduced additional options for case listing. Appellants can now choose to have their PIP appeal listed on the papers, by telephone, video link or face to face.
Paper hearing and remote hearings are listed continuously in response to demand.
A number of venues have already been identified and adapted to ensure they are COVID secure for all parties to attend a physical hearing; work is continuing to find additional venues to list benefit appeal hearings.
Hearing in these venues commenced in December and January but in response to the new restrictions announced, the President of the Appeals Service has postponed face to face hearing until 5 February when it will be reviewed in light of the advice available.