Welfare changes in Northern Ireland putting sight at risk

Stormont, Belfast

Vulnerable people in Northern Ireland risk losing their sight due to bureaucratic political failings, Belfast-based optometrist Sam Baird has warned.

The final phase of migrating those receiving welfare payments in Northern Ireland to Universal Credit has seen automatic entitlement to eye care, dental treatment and other healthcare removed as result of changes to how certain benefits are named.

New naming conventions in Universal Credit do not match those within existing laws.

Stormont officials have introduced a workaround in the form of a complex 22-page document for applicants, but Baird told the Belfast Telegraph the forms were quite difficult to complete and likened what had happened as a ‘lifestyle penalty.’

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