The Paper sets out proposals to help more disabled people and people with health conditions to start, stay and succeed in work; and looks at how people can be better supported within the health and disability benefits system.
The proposals include transforming the future benefits system so it focuses on what people can do rather than on what they cannot, including removing the Work Capability Assessment (WCA), so that in future there is only one health and disability functional assessment: the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment. In the new system there will be no need to be found to have limited capability for work, or limited capability for work-related activity, to receive additional income-related support for a disability or health condition.
A new Universal Credit (UC) health element is proposed that people receiving both PIP and UC will be entitled to, which will enable people to try work without the worry of being reassessed or losing their benefits. This element will replace the limited capability for work and work-related activity (LCWRA) element in UC.
For some people on UC with a health condition, and who are also in receipt of PIP, work is not a realistic option, and the new health element will continue to provide income-related support to those people.
It is also proposed that UC LCWRA recipients who are not also in receipt of PIP when they move to the new system, and whose circumstances remain unchanged, will receive transitional protection which will ensure that no one experiences financial loss at the point at which the changes are introduced.
PIP and UC will remain separate benefits. PIP will remain a benefit people can receive whether they are in or out of work. PIP will not be means-tested and will continue to provide support to cover some of the additional costs associated with having a health condition or disability, irrespective of a person's income.
In general, Northern Ireland’s social security policy and legislation operate in line with DWP, and there is, in effect, a single system of social security in place. It is anticipated therefore that any changes to social security legislation will also be introduced here subject, as necessary, to Ministerial, Executive and Assembly approvals.