May 24, 2021

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) – updates into our investigation

Update on the OI investigation report – 22 June 2021

This Thursday (24 June) we will be releasing our report ‘PIP and the Value of Further Evidence’. The report looks at how evidence, such as that from health professionals, is used by the Dept. for Communities and Capita to award the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefit.


Update on OI investigation into the administration of PIP

Following the response from the Department for Communities to the draft report, the Ombudsman is in the process of finalising her investigation and expects to publish and lay the investigation report before the Assembly before the end of June 2021.


Draft investigation report shared with the Department

The Ombudsman must, by law, give the Department and the assessment provider Capita the opportunity to comment on the evidence before she concludes her investigation and publishes her report. Deleted: In October the draft of the investigation report was shared with the Department.. Their full response is expected on 18 December 2020. Deleted: The Ombudsman intends to publish the report early in the New Year.


Interim Update on the investigation into the Department for Communities’ administration of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefit system

Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO) commenced an investigation into the Department for Communities’ (the Department) administration of the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefit system. The investigation is the first to take place under new ‘own initiative’ powers which can be invoked where the NIPSO has a reasonable suspicion of systemic maladministration. PIP is a non means tested benefit for people of working age (16 -64 years) intended to provide help toward some of the extra costs arising from having a long term health condition or disability. PIP was introduced into Northern Ireland in June 2016, replacing Disability Living Allowance.  The decision to launch the ‘own initiative’ investigation followed a proposal sent to the Department. Following detailed consideration of the information available and the views of the Department, other oversight bodies, MLAs and citizens, the Ombudsman remained satisfied that the criteria for launching an ‘own initiative’ investigation had been met.

Scope of the investigation:
A public announcement was made on 24 June 2019 and the terms of reference published. The scope of the investigation is to examine the actions of the Department and service provider Capita in administrating PIP with a particular focus on:

• Availability and application of further evidence in the PIP benefit decision making and internal complaints processes.

The full terms of reference for the investigation can be found at: https://nipso.org.uk/site/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/PIP-Terms-of-Reference.pdf