THE Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been asked to intervene over an issue affecting vulnerable PIP benefit claimants.

The Arfon AM Hywel Williams asked the PM to step-in to reverse the closure of the PIP (Personal Independent Payments) assessment centre in Bangor.

The centre at Parc Menai closed in November. Mr Williams says “vulnerable claimants” were told by the private assessment provider Capita they would now have to travel more than three hours on public transport to be assessed.

The contract between the DWP and assessment provider Capita, states claimants should not have to travel for more than 90 minutes by public transport for assessment.

The nearest alternative assessment centres are in Rhyl and Aberystwyth, although Capita says it is working on finding a new location in Bangor.

At Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons today (Wednesday), Hywel Williams MP urged the Prime Minister to instruct the DWP to find a suitable, permanent site in Bangor to meet the needs of severely disabled and vulnerable claimants.

He said: “In November last year, the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) Assessment Centre in my constituency was moved to Rhyl. No notice was given.

“The next bus from Caernarfon to Rhyl takes one hour forty four minutes. Or a case in point, in my Right Honourable Friend’s constituency (Dwyfor Meirionnydd Liz Saville-Roberts), Barmouth to Rhyl takes five hours fifteen minutes.

“Or a disabled person in Barmouth could take the train to the Aberystwyth Assessment Centre, at a mere two hours twenty five minutes, one way.’

“Mr Speaker, this is a reality in the Prime Minister’s soar-away Global Britain. Will he instruct his Minister to remedy this matter immediately?

But according to Mr Williams, Mr Johnson’s reply “completely missed the point” and was completely “evasive.”

He added: “Capita are contractually obliged to consider the specific needs of claimants when undertaking assessments. This includes locating assessment centres as local and as convenient as possible to those in receipt of benefits.

“The assessment process is not fit for purpose as it is, and instead of supporting vulnerable people, the process is often dehumanising, erroneous and worsens existing health conditions for vulnerable people.

“This situation is a serious cause of concern for me and my constituents and the government must urgently clarify what efforts are being made to establish a new assessment centre to meet the needs of local claimants.”

A Capita spokesperson said: “We are in the process of securing an alternative site in Bangor.

“In the meantime we are making alternative arrangements for customers, including for most people arranging home visits and individual travel for those who still need to attend a consultation centre.”