Rochdale's Personal Independence Payment assessment centre closes
Date published: 09 October 2019
Photo: saelim - stock.adobe.com
Elderly woman in a wheelchair
Rochdale MP Tony Lloyd has written to Thérèse Coffey MP, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, about the closure of the Rochdale Personal Independence Payment assessment centre, asking for an explanation about the decision.
The Personal Independence Payment (PIP) centre in Rochdale Infirmary was closed during September, without providing an alternative location in the borough.
Personal Independence Payment is the government’s replacement for Disability Living Allowance. PIP was introduced in April 2013 and is awarded to assist with some of the extra costs caused by long-term ill health or a disability.
The closure means sick and disabled claimants will have to travel outside the borough to attend assessments with the nearest assessment centres being located in Oldham, Bolton and Manchester city centre.
In his letter, Mr Lloyd said: “The closure of the assessment centre without providing an alternative location in Rochdale will have a severe impact on sick and disabled claimants who will have to travel outside of the borough to attend assessments.
“This can only add to the pervasive culture of mistrust which has exacerbated claimant anxiety, and the miserable effect this has on people who are trying to access much needed support.
“I would be grateful if you could explain why the decision was made to closure the assessment centre, and what steps you can take to ensure the service is reinstated in Rochdale.”
Councillor Sameena Zahir, who raised the centre’s closure with Rochdale Online, said: “I am deeply concerned the way it's going to affect the residents of our borough.
“All those people who were previously on DLA being re-assessed for PIP in our borough at the moment, and the new claimants, will be massively affected.”
A spokesperson for Independent Assessment Services, which operated the Rochdale centre, said: “Unfortunately we are no longer able to use the Rochdale site. However, in the first half of this year IAS opened two new sites in Oldham and Bolton to ensure we can continue to deliver a quality service.
“IAS also ensures those claimants who need to be seen at home are offered a home consultation, and are not required to attend an assessment centre. In addition those claimants who require a taxi to get them to an assessment centre have the option to call us and discuss that requirement.
“Claimants’ travel costs are also reimbursed where they have to travel to an assessment centre.”
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