Will findings of survey into claimants of Incapacity Benefits be used to better the lot of the worst off in our society?
Sinn Féin Welfare Rights Spokesperson, Mickey Brady MLA has questioned the purpose of a recent survey into Incapacity Benefits claimants by the Department of Education and Learning.
The Newry Assembly Member said:
"I would ask Department of Education and Learning Minister, Reg Empey to clarify what purpose this survey will be put to. Will he reassure those individuals who find themselves incapacitated that it will not be used as a means to pressurise people off benefits to which they are clearly entitled.
"Some of the conclusions of the survey would indicate that this is what is intended. But the Minister must accept that approximately 40% of people presenting for Incapacity Benefit do so with mental health problems. If the purpose of this survey is to get people back to work it is imperative that assessments must be carried out by Mental Health professionals and not, as suggested, by unqualified civil servants.
"The Minister must also realise that as determined by the survey the leading types of ill health are arthritis and rheumatism among IB claimants - both progressive conditions - therefore the sufferer is unlikely to experience relief in their conditions but rather expect it to deteriorate. For the Minister to introduce measures to force people with such debilitating conditions into physical employment would be inhumane and degrading." ENDS