The council wants to question DfC and Capita officials about its scandalous handling of the Personal Independent Payment system and its appeals process.
And he said councillors will want to know why the Sinn Fein Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey extended Capita’s contract until 2023 despite whithering criticisms contained in a report by the Public Service Ombudsman.
Said Cllr Harkin: “The Public Service Ombudsman report into Capita corporation’s administration of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefit documented a catalogue of failure and mistreatment of vulnerable people.
“Following a motion I put through Council with unanimous support, DfC and Capita officials have been called before a Special Meeting of Council at 4pm on the 20th of October.
“There are very serious questions to answer for both the DfC and Capita. They need to be held accountable for the way people have been treated.
“Despite the ombudsman report, and years of criticism, the Sinn Féin DfC Minister rewarded Capita with a contract extension worth tens of millions through 2023.
“The Minister has also refused to implement the ‘People’s Proposal’ that would incorporate a robust human rights checklist protecting access to crucial benefits for vulnerable people.
“Advice workers documented the inadequate state of our benefit system in the recently published ‘Sounding the Alarm’ report.
“The report makes clear why the DfC Minister’s continued stonewalling on implementation of the human rights checklist is unacceptable.
“Every day the DfC Minister and her officials refuse to implement the People’s Proposal results in hundreds of people experiencing indignity and the denial of basic human rights when accessing benefits.
“Tory Welfare reforms voted for and implemented by the Stormont Executive have had a devastating impact on workers and the vulnerable.
“Corporations interested solely in profiteering should have no role in deciding whether people can access benefits. Capita needs to go.
“It’s crucial we keep up the pressure on the Stormont Executive for implementation of the benefits human rights checklist and restoration of the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift.
“The Executive can’t be allowed to continue to turn its back on the least well off and most vulnerable in our communities.
Full motion supported by DCSDC July 2021:
Motion: End Capita’s PIP Contract
“Council notes with alarm the Public Services Ombudsman investigation into Personal Independence Payment (PIP) that found ‘systematic maladministration’ and ‘failures’ by the DfC and Capita management in their treatment of vulnerable people attempting to access disability benefits.
“Council notes the participation of Capita in PIP is part of vicious Tory welfare reform policies agreed by the Stormont Executive – but not required under that legislation. Capita is profiting by doing the bidding of Westminster and the Stormont Executive to mistreat vulnerable people in the assessment process and cruelly deny them access to benefits.
“Council believes the mistreatment of vulnerable people by Capita is unacceptable and that the company cannot be rewarded with further contracts worth millions in profits.
“Council will write to the DfC Minister requesting Capita’s contract is ended, not extended. Council calls for work to begin immediately to develop an ‘in-house’ assessment process within the public sector, using medical information, as it was in the past and as it is planned in Scotland to begin in Spring 2022.
“Council will invite representatives from Capita and the DfC Minister for presentations on the Ombudsman report.
“Furthermore, Council notes with serious concern the Justice Minister’s decision to award the new hard fought for victims’ pension contract to Capita.
“Council calls for the Stormont Executive to begin an immediate review of all contracts awarded to Capita by Ministers.”Tags: