Updated CILNI Website privacy policy

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new European Union law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the EU. This law comes into effect on 25 May 2018 and, in line with it, we have reviewed and updated a number of our policies.

In particular, we have looked again at the data protection and privacy policy for the CILNI website, a copy of which can be downloaded here.

Alternatively, you can read the text of the policy online by clicking on “About” in the Main Menu at the top of this page and selecting the CILNI Website privacy policy from the drop-down menu.

Report from the annual Self-Directed Support Conference

Round-up from the SDS Conference on 3 May 2018

Some of the team from the Centre for Independent Living NI recently attended the annual Self Directed Support (SDS) Conference at the Galgorm Hotel in Ballymena. As the name suggests, Self Directed Support affords individuals and families greater choice and flexibility as to how their individual support is provided.

At the event, a number of professionals within the social care field spoke about a variety of exciting new initiatives which are being launched in Northern Ireland. Those included Cecil Worthington, the Acting Director of Social Care & Children’s Services Directorate of the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB), who is at the cutting edge of the health transformation programme, putting choice and control in the hands of the people.

Trudy Brown, the Trust Implementation Officer for the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust (HSCT), also demonstrated some of the new e-Learning programmes that are available to Personal Assistants. The current portfolio of programmes includes training and other quality care courses that enable Personal Assistants to complete the programmes in different ways.

The Conference was also a great opportunity to hear stories from people who are living more independent, fulfilling lives and from the dedicated HSCTs staff who help make that a reality.

An accident over 30 years ago left Bill McIntyre in a wheelchair, but being on Self Directed Support has helped to give him far greater freedom. He is now able to choose how his support is provided, to rely less on his wife, Irene, and to feel far more independent.

Another service user who delivered an excellent presentation was Martin McKenzie. Martin told the Conference of his personal experience raising two sons, Kyle and AJ, who have autism and ADHD. He spoke engagingly of the highs and lows associated with raising his sons and of dealing with their particular disabilities. He also explained how SDS gave him greater flexibility and opportunities to plan his sons’ support, and spoke highly of the support he also received from his sons’ school (Tor Bank).

All in all, the SDS Conference was interesting and rewarding.  It gave a good insight into how social care can continue to support people in making their own choices; giving them greater flexibility and control. The sessions were informative and valuable, as were the opportunities to meet and chat with members of the community.

CILNI’s acting CEO, Bryan Myles, was part of our team at the Conference and explained what he personally got from the experience:

‘I enjoyed attending the SDS Conference last week.  There are some really exciting new initiatives launching within social care in Northern Ireland.  It was great to see professionals from social care, service users and charities working together to improve the lives of disabled and older people in our communities.’     

CILNI Advisers gaining useful insight at SDS Conference at Galgorm                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             (Deena Nimick (IL Service Manager, Belfast), Rachel Harkness (assistant ILA, Magherafelt), Claire Mohan (assistant ILA, Armagh), Rosemary Montague/Francine Caldwell/Helen Anderson (the ILA team from Omagh) and Christine Hanvey (ILA, Belfast)


New job opportunity at CILNI

Centre for Independent Living NI is now seeking to recruit a person for the following  post:


Hours:            Full time - 35 hours per week

Salary:          £20,448 per annum

Contract:       Permanent

Location:       Magherafelt (Unit C1, The Business Centre, 80-82 Rainey Street, Magherafelt
                       BT45 5AJ)

We are seeking a Independent Living Adviser to join our local team in Magherafelt.  The role involves delivering a support service in the northern Health and Social Care Trust to provide information, advice and training in relation to Independent Living and Direct Payments/Personal Budgets.  The successful candidate should have experience of providing information and advice to disabled people and an understanding of Direct Payments and related employment issues. The ideal candidate will have a desire to make life easier for disabled people.

Closing date for receipt of applications is Tuesday, 29 May 2018For further information and an application pack, contact: CILNI, Linden House, Beechill Business Park, 96 Beechill Road, Belfast BT8 7QN.  Tel: 028 9064 8546, Fax/Textphone: 9064 0598, Email:  info@cilni.org or download here:

Note: please do not send CVs as these will be disregarded.

CILNI is an equal opportunities employer and welcomes applications from all sections of the community. Funding for this post has been provided by the Health & Social Care Board.

CILNI's Chief Executive retires

Philomena McCrory retires as CILNI’s first Chief Executive after 17 years

At the end of February, Philomena McCrory retired from her leadership position with our organisation. Philomena has been with CILNI since we started in 2001 with two staff in a small start-up office within the NICVA building in Duncairn Gardens, North Belfast with an initial service contract from Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (Belfast HSCT). Since then as Manager, Director and finally Chief Executive, she has overseen our growth into a regional organisation as we expanded with contracts obtained from the South Eastern, Southern, Northern and Western HSCTs involving the opening of regional offices in Armagh (2004), Omagh (2007) and Magherafelt (2008). CILNI currently has 26 permanent full and part-time staff in its 4 offices.

Philomena, with Jackie Magee of the HSCB, at our AGM in November 2017

Other CILNI highlights under Philomena’s leadership include:

  • The establishment of a specialised, tailored payroll service, with our partners Pauley Business Services (PBS), for service users following a successful pilot in 2003. The service currently serves the needs of 1800 disabled clients, who employ some 8000+ personal assistants to provide their personal care and support.
  • The move in 2010 of our Head and Belfast office to a modern office complex, fitted out to our requirements, in South Belfast.
  • The migration in 2016 of the payroll service from an outsourced service, with PBS, to an integrated in-house service.
  • Winning the regional tender in 2016 to the NI Health and Social Services Board (HSCB) for the three-year contract to provide advice and support to direct payments and self-directed support users throughout the province.

Her friend and founding board member, Angela Hendra, remembers first meeting Philomena and the formation of CILNI:

.I first got to know Philomena well in 1996 when we were both selected to travel to USA on a study tour to look at Disability Programmes throughout the United States. 

 We had expressed an interest, if the opportunity arose, to visit the Centre for Independent Living in Berkley, California and learn about the independent living movement. This movement, which has its origins in the US Civil Rights activists’ movement, started in Berkley in the late 1960s promoting a way of looking at disability and society in which people with disabilities work for self-determination, self-respect and equal opportunities. The movement argues that people with disabilities are the best experts on their needs and therefore they must take the initiative, individually and collectively, in designing and better promoting solutions.

We were aware that the struggles of disabled people had in the US in the Sixties onwards in accessing Education, Employment and other services in the States, was also the case in the UK. The emergence of the Independent Living Movement came to inspire similar movements throughout the world, and particularly in Europe, which saw the establishment of similar Centres for Independent Living in the 80s and 90s.

On our return, a group of like-minded disabled people set up a steering committee to establish a Centre for Independent Living in Northern Ireland.  Philomena was very much to the forefront of this initiative. She worked tirelessly influencing both the Department of Health and Social Services and the Eastern Health and Social Services Board to introduce direct payments for disabled people. Initial funding was secured in 2001 to set up a Direct Payments support scheme in Eastern Area.

A Management Board of disabled was created and Philomena was appointed Scheme Co-ordinator, through an open recruitment process. An Office was opened in Duncairn Gardens and for many months Philomena worked alone setting the service up. She reached out to disabled people, to the health and social services and professionals. The Centre for Independent Living Belfast soon became the Centre for Independent Living NI as the service expanded throughout the Province. In addition, she created a very successful self-financing Pay Roll scheme, which is much appreciated by users of Direct Payments and the new Self Directed Support scheme.

I doubt very much that there would have been a CILNI today without the enthusiasm and commitment of Philomena. Because of her, many disabled people lives have been much improved.  We wish her a healthy and fulfilling retirement. 

We very much share Angela’s hope that Philomena will continue to be involved in some way with CILNI as she enters this new chapter in her life.

All at CILNI wish her good health and happiness in what we trust will be a long and fulfilling retirement.

Since Philomena’s retirement, our Assistant Chief Executive, Bryan Myles, has been appointed Acting Chief Executive. Having worked closely with Philomena since early 2016 with the successful contract tender, the migration of the payroll service and implementing our strategic plan, he is well placed to help CILNI meet the existing and new challenges.

Note: Prior to joining CILNI, Bryan has worked with the Bridge Community Enterprise, Community Transport Association UK in Northern Ireland and the East Belfast Mission.

Voices of the NI Disability Rights Movement

A very special event was held on Thursday, 19 April 2018 celebrating the lives and stories are some of the people involved in the disability rights movement in Northern Ireland in the last 30 years plus. Over the last year, Harry Reid and Karen Hall, from Disability Action, have been working collecting a series of interviews from activists and supporters and collating key timelines of the disability rights movement locally.

The event included an informal discussion discussing the stories and the evolving landscape in Northern Ireland in respect of rights in general and particularly those rights regarding disability.

This material is designed to be used by disabled people and their allies and will hopefully motivate others to continue the struggle! There are certainly many challenges still to be faced in battles to be fought.

The project materials can be viewed online at: https://www.disabilityaction.org/voices or you can view Philomena’s contribution on YouTube by clicking the link here.

Note: The project was funded by the Sigrid Rausing Trust.

CILNI Newsletter for April 2018 available

CILNI is very pleased to let you know the April version of the newsletter is available on the website. This edition contains updates on various important issues and some news items.

To read the latest edition, please click here.
We hope that you will enjoy reading it. If you have any comments or queries on any of the items, please contact Austen Burns, our Information Officer, who now edits the newsletter.
Please let us know if you have any suggestions for future articles or any news items which you would wish us to include.


Important notice regarding the CILNI payroll service

As you can imagine, processing 1800 different payrolls for service users each month is a very complex and and time-consuming task, requiring a great deal of concentration and care. In order to facilitate the smooth processing of these important transactions, it has been decided that certain parts of the day will be dedicated to carrying out the processing.

As a result CILNI Payroll Service advice line opening hours are changing

Service users can access general information on the Centre for Independent Living NI website 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. During regular business hours, service users who need more information or assistance can be transferred to a payroll advisor. Live assistance will continue to be available available Monday to Friday but only as follows:

Morning: 10am to 12pm & Afternoon: 2pm to 4pm

Your understanding and cooperation will be greatly appreciated.

You can also contact the CILNI Payroll Service by email or use our out of hours answer phone and a member of the team will get back to you.

Telephone: 028 9064 8546

Email: payroll@cilni.org




CILNI is now on Facebook!

The Centre for Independent Living NI has now joined Facebook. Our Facebook page will update you on the latest news, events that we are involved in and all things Independent Living!


To visit our page, click on this link: https://www.facebook.com/centreforindependentlivingni/


and make sure you ‘Like’ our page! you can do this by visiting our Facebook page and clicking the ‘Like’ button.


Thank You!

CILNI Newsletter August 2017 on website

CILNI is very pleased to let you know the August version of the newsletter is available on the website. This edition contains updates on various important issues and some news items.

To read the latest edition, please click here.
We hope that you will enjoy reading it. If you have any comments or queries on any of the items, please contact the office of Bryan Myles, our Assistant Director, who edits the newsletter.
Please let us know if you have any suggestions for future articles or any news items which you would wish us to include.

Bringing Disability Rights Home: Realising the UNCRPD in Northern Ireland

Bringing Disability Rights Home: Realising the UNCRPD in Northern Ireland

Austin Burns, CILNI Information Officer recently attended the Bringing Disability Rights Home: Realising the UNCRPD in Northern Ireland conference in Stormont on Tuesday, 30 January 2018 on behalf of the Centre for Independent Living NI. The event focussed on the contents of a report by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and particularly on the concerns the Committee have with the levels of protection offered to people with disabilities in Northern Ireland.

The event focussed on the contents of a report by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and particularly on the concerns the Committee have with the levels of protection offered to people with disabilities in Northern Ireland. 

As part and parcel of the conference, a number of other speakers were present in order to offer a variety of different perspectives on the UNCRPD report and its findings. Bernie Rooney, the Director of Social Inclusion Policy Division within the Department for Communities, gave a talk about the Programme for Government. She told the conference that the Department has looked at the concluding observations against the draft Programme for Government plan and have strengthened the plan on that basis. In addition new advisory groups have been introduced. She also stated that the Department will now enhance its data collection to improve the statistics available and that the Northern Ireland Executive (when it comes back) will look at how to implement changes suggested by the UNCRPD.

To present the perspectives of disabled people led organisations David McDonald, the Chair of the Omnibus Partnership, and other speakers spoke at the conference. David highlighted the work of IMTAC NI, a Committee of disabled people and older people that advises Government in Northern Ireland on travel and transport issues. He used that example to explain the importance of allowing disabled and older people to have a voice in shaping policy. According to David, ‘unless we start listening to and involving disabled people – Nothing will change.’

These were just a few examples of the points and opinions raised at an interesting and illuminating event. 

Power to the People: DHSS&PS publishes report on reform of adult care and support system

In 2016 the Department of Health established an Expert Advisory Panel to support its work in developing proposals for reform to the adult care and support system. Last week they announced the publication of the report Power to People: Proposals to reboot adult care and support in NI.  The report made 16 proposals, including raising the profile of social care, increased emphasis on giving control to service users and supporting family carers and building on existing supports within communities.  Des Kelly OBE, Expert Panel Member said: “Our report sets out a package of reforms which we believe are necessary to ensure Northern Ireland’s future care and support system is sustainable and focused on outcomes.”

Commenting on the report Philomena McCrory, CILNI Chief Executive said “ Throughout this report, there is a clear emphasis on a person-centred, human rights approach that places the individual citizen at the heart of any system of adult care and support. We are pleased to see the recognition of the value of self-directed support as an effective way to achieve better outcomes for citizens; the key proposal that models of self-directed support becomes the norm in order to empower citizens with effective demand (Proposal Two); and the identification of the need to invest in the development and expansion of SDS. Building on our experience over the past 15 years, CILNI looks forward to working with all concerned for a positive way forward to promote choice control and independence.”

The panel’s report is available online.


Our AGM at the National Football Stadium was a great success

Thanks to everyone who attended our Annual General Meeting and Workshop on the 22nd November. The event was a great success, in the excellent facilities of our chosen venue of the National Football Stadium, Windsor Park, Belfast.

Notable features were:

§  We had 50 attendees at the event of which 11 were service users

§  We enabled the membership to re-elect a board of management and asked for expressions of interest for new board members

§  We facilitated the adoption of the previous year’s AGM minutes, annual accounts and appointment of auditors

§  We launched Facebook Live to our 54 and growing number of followers

§  We introduced a Twitter hashtag #askcilni as a new way of contacting CILNI (we currently have more than 360 followers on Twitter)

§  We facilitated a discussion on social care provision in N. Ireland and CILNI’s supporting role

§  We encouraged our growing social media community to participate in the broader discussion

§  We  recorded the meeting in various formats including video, photography, notes and through sharing stories

Huge thanks to everyone who attended, presented at and contributed to the event, and we hope even more people can join us for the next one! If you want to see any pictures, reports or the live broadcast from the AGM, then please check our Facebook page www.facebook.com/centreforindependentlivingni/ Twitter profile https://twitter.com/cfilni.

After lunch, approximately 20 people enjoyed a very interesting and informative tour of the new and refurbished facilities at the stadium.

CILNI appoints new Information Officer

We are delighted that Austen Burns has joined CILNI in this position in July, 2017.

Austen has been working with high growth businesses in marketing and communication roles since 2014 and thus brings invaluable experience to his new role. That experience, too, is enhanced by his bachelor’s degree in computing and a master’s degree in marketing.


Most recently, Austen has been working as a marketing consultant for disability equipment provider Moorings Mediquip and prior to this, was marketing manager at Exploristics. Whilst there he was primarily responsible for and successful in effectively developing, managing and controlling the relationship between the company and its target audience.

In his spare time, Austen is also passionate about disability and para sports, and regularly competes in equestrian events. He has utilised his expertise in marketing, to help promote disability sports in Northern Ireland by volunteering with Paralympics Ireland and the Riding for the Disabled Association Northern Ireland.

Austen, therefore, has a wealth of experience and know-how to bring to his new role at CILNI and is eager and keen to get started. He will focus upon producing online content and information within the disability space, as well as working on exciting new digital initiatives that the CILNI has planned for the coming months.     

CILNI appoints new Payroll Service Manager


We are delighted that Anna Glogiewicz  has joined CILNI in this position in April, 2017. Originally from Poland, Anna has been living and working in Northern Ireland for some time and holds a Masters degree in Mathematics.

As a full member of the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals, Anna brings a breadth of management and payroll experience to her new position in CILNI and is looking forward to the fresh challenge of managing CILNI’s specialist payroll service.  Most recently, Anna has been Payroll Manager at Brett Martin. Prior to that Anna was Group Payroll Manager at UTV Media plc for over four years where she managed several complex payrolls during a very challenging time at UTV.  During her career Anna has used her teaching and organisational skills in different ways to enhance the delivery of a payroll service. 

We welcome Anna to the CILNI team and know that she will lead us in offering a professional and friendly service to all clients.

CILNI AGM at the Crumlin Road Gaol

CILNI held its annual general meeting on Tuesday, 21 March 2017 at the Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast. It was pleasing to see a good turnout of members and friends at this very interesting venue.

After the necessary business of the organisation had been conducted, including the presentation of the Annual Report for 2015/2016, the meeting moved on to the more interesting parts of the meeting:

1.     Our Assistant Director, Bryan Myles, presented the organisation’s Strategic Plan for 2016-2019. Entitled “Working Together to Enhance Independence”, the plan sets out the intended direction for CILNI over the current three-year period together with clear aims and objectives. The development of the plan demonstrates our continuing commitment to promoting the independence of all disabled people through the delivery of services which meet their specific needs, together with the expectations of our funding partners. To read the Strategic Plan, please click here.

2.     Our good friend, Aiden McCullagh, who has been working on the development of Self-Directed Support since the initial pilot project in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust area shared with the meeting one example of how self-directed support can make a life enhancing improvement. What made it an unusually thought-provoking, moving and personal presentation was that the people benefiting from the support were Aidan’s own elderly parents.

3.     Our Chairperson, Mike Hendra had recently informed the board of his intention to step down from this position which he has held since CILNI was established in 2001. In recognition of the dedication and wisdom with which Mike has led CILNI over its first 16 years, Ronan Murray (who has served with Mike as a board member since 2001) presented him with a Certificate of Service. There will be a further event very shortly, in which a more tangible appreciation (currently on order) will be presented to Mike by fellow board members and staff. We are delighted that Mike has agreed to continue serving as a member of the board of management, alongside his wife Angela.

After the meeting, a number of attendees were able to enjoy a very informative and atmospheric tour of the Gaol. 

CILNI Payroll Service update

Over the last six months we have taken forward our plan to bring the Payroll Service in-house, with the team now well settled in Beechill Road.  Transferring a business of this scale was a major undertaking and particularly challenging to keep the service running smoothly over the busy Christmas holiday period.  Many thanks to our all payroll users for their patience and understanding during the busy transfer time and apologies if you experienced any inconvenience or delay.   We are confident that any teething difficulties have been sorted out and that we will continue to deliver an efficient, reliable service.

Last Payroll of the Year – March 2017

As we approach the end of the 2016/17 tax year, the final payroll will be due in March.  It is very important to ensure the accuracy of this final payroll as changes can seriously affect the HMRC year end declarations along with your employees P60’s.

Update your contact information

The payroll service has experienced a growth in those who prefer or are willing to communicate with the Payroll Service via email.  If anyone has an interest in communicating with the service by email then forward your email address to payroll@cilni.org or call 028 9064 8546.

A bit of a shock. We are 15 years old!

As a result of a combination of circumstances, the realisation dawned last Friday that it was 15 years since we  first started operations as Centre for Independent Living, Belfast. On 5 March 2001, our first member of staff arrived in an empty room in NICVA in North Belfast.

That first member was Philomena McCrory who is now our Director. There was no furniture in the room and she started off using her personal mobile phone and a small laptop and printer she brought with her. Needless to say, things did improve; some furniture was bought and a telephone line installed. More staff followed – Paul Anderson, Debbie Whitson and Irene McWatters.
By coincidence, a suitably festive box of chocolates arrived and an impromptu celebration took place.
Bryan Myles (Assistant Director), Ann Benade (Finance Officer), Chris Meneilly (Asst ILA), Irene McWatters (ILA Support) and Philomena McCrory (Director) enjoy the box of chocolates.
Since then, CILNI has evolved significantly and has opened three regional offices in Armagh (2004), Omagh (2007) and Magherafelt (2008) and we are currently employing 17 part-time and full-time staff (two of whom are currently on maternity leave). In 2010, we moved the Belfast operation to our more suitable office In Beechill Road and the name was changed to Centre for Independent Living NI to reflect the regionwide nature of the organisation.
If all goes well, we would hope to organise a special celebration and event later in 2016 to mark this and other important milestones.

CILNI appoints new Assistant Director

The board of management is very pleased to announce that it  appointed Bryan Myles as our new Assistant Director at the beginning of February 2016.

 Bryan with Debbie Whitson, who is one of our longest serving staff members


Bryan is a professionally qualified manager with more than twenty years’ experience of managing diverse organisations in the charity and social economy sectors.  He is accomplished in many areas concerning the management of staff, budgets and projects and has recent expertise in organisational development of several charities.

As CILNI Assistant Director, Bryan will assist the Director and Board of Management to implement the organisation’s strategic plan and policies.  He will provide leadership, support and guidance to staff and help with recruitment and on-going support.  Bryan will lead on the implementation of a number of new core CILNI projects during 2016.

We are delighted that Bryan has already been able to "hit the ground running" and we are confident that his wealth of experience wil greatly increase the organisation's management capability.


CILNI meets with political parties at Stormont

As we approach the elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly on 5 May 2016, CILNI has taken the opportunity to have meetings with the five largest political parties currently in the Assembly.We met this February with representatives of the Democratic Unionist Party, Sinn Fein, the Ulster Unionist Party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party and the Alliance Party.

Our goal has been to highlight the importance of empowering social care users through promoting independent living. We explained how most people take for granted the freedom to choose when you eat your meals, go to bed and take a shower but thousands of disabled people in Northern Ireland do not have that choice  – because they rely on a Health and Social Care Trust to help with the simple tasks; in most cases, the disabled people have to fit in with what the service provider offers.

In Northern Ireland, Direct Payments are the main way in which social care users are able to manage their own personal care budget – the same scheme which also operates in Great Britain. We pointed out that, in Northern Ireland, the ratio of disabled people using Direct Payments to those receiving traditional social homecare packages is 1:10 whilst, in England, it's a much higher 1:3 ratio.

For the future, we outlined how we hope to see personalised budgets becoming more popular in Northern Ireland as the wider Self-Directed Support scheme is rolled out, giving disabled people a wider number of options, including Direct Payments. It is very clear to everyone that the full potential of independent living for social care users has not yet been realised and we indicated the barriers to the uptake of direct payments in Northern Ireland. We illustrated the transformative effect of independent living on one of our members, Michaela Hollywood, who lives in Crossgar, County Down. Her Direct Payments package enables her to live a very full and productive life with control over when and how she receives assistance.

Finally, it was pointed out how ultimately supporting independent living results in more effective social care, a potential saving of social care funds and a happier, more fulfilled and  healthier life for thousands of people.

We were very pleased with the  courteous and positive reception we had from all five political parties and it will be very interesting to see if any of these concepts appear in their election manifestoes and/or are promoted by the next Assembly.

Can we ask that, if you get the opportunity to speak to any of your own local candidates and political representatives, you remind them of the importance of independent living, Direct Payments and Self-Directed Support to thousands of disabled voters, their family and friends in Northern Ireland.
To read or download the our PDF format brochure entitled "Empowering social care users and social care funds: Why independent living matters" which we presented to the politicians, please click here. To obtain a hard copy of the brochure, please contact our head office by telephone on (028) 9064 8546 or by email to info@cilni.org 

New National Living Wage from April 2017

New National Minimum Wage rate and the National Living Wage rates from 1 April 2017

National Minimum Wage
The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is the minimum pay per hour most workers are entitled to by law. The rate will depend on the workers' age and if they are an apprentice.

The National Living Wage
The Government's National Living Wage was introduced on 1 April 2016 for all working people aged 25 and over, and was set at £7.20 per hour. From 1 April 2017, it will go up by 30p to £7.50.

The National Minimum Wage rates for younger workers applicable to pay reference periods starting on or after 1 April 2017 will be as follows:

• the rate for workers aged 21 and 24 will increase by 35p to £7.05 an hour 

• the rate for 18-20 year olds will increase by 5p to £5.60 to £5.60 an hour 

• the rate for 16-17 year olds will increase by 5p to £3.87 an hour 

• the rate for apprentices will rise by 10p to £3.50 an hour 

Please see the info sheet Paying Personal Assistants under the heading Being a Good Employer for more information and background.

Disabled people take the lead on £5 million research project

Disabled people will be at the forefront of designing projects for a new £5 million UK wide research programme to explore how disabled people can live more independent lives.

The DRILL programme, which was launched in Northern Ireland on 16 September, will see disabled people working with academics and policy makers to develop research and pilot projects that will show how they, and people with long term health conditions, can be better supported to be full citizens.

The DRILL (Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning) programme is fully funded by Big Lottery Fund and will be led by, Disability Action in partnership with Inclusion Scotland, Disability Wales and Disability Rights UK. This four nation project will deliver the world's first major research programme led by disabled people.


Kevin Doherty, Chief Executive, Disability Action, said:

"ultimately this is about making a real shift.  Far too often disabled people are the subject of research but not participants in its development.  We want academics and others to work in partnership with disabled people to build an evidence base that will contribute to making real change."

DRILL is expecting to fund a total of 40 research proposals and pilot projects over a 5 year period. The programme which we believe to be a world first, aims to work in partnership with disabled people, academics and policy makers to build a better evidence base about approaches that enable people to live independently, which will be used to inform future policy and service provision, as well as giving greater voice to disabled people in the issues that impact them.  

The criteria for funding will be decided after engagement events with people with disabilities around the UK, under the themes of peer support, autonomy, resilience and social, economic and civic participation. Disabled people and their organisations will be supported to work on their bids in partnership with academics and policy makers.

Speaking at the Launch, Philomena McCrory, Director of the Centre for Independent Living NI said:

“The Independent Living Movement is based on the firm belief that disabled people are the experts on how we achieve independent living and fulfil our individual potential. The DRILL Programme is therefore of great significance as we move our philosophy and ethos forward through the co-production of new research – disabled people taking the initiative individually and collectively in designing and promoting more effective solutions to the barriers we face in everyday life.”

Dr Bronagh Byrne of the School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work, Queen’s University Belfast added:

“Building a truly inclusive society needs to be underpinned by a strong evidence base with disabled people at its core. I look forward to the DRILL Programme producing key research from across Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England in partnership with disabled people, academics, service providers and policy makers – research that is committed to and guided by the articles and principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”

The first round of funding is expected to be launched in April 2016.  For information on DRILL please visit www.drilluk.org.uk


Self Directed Support

Self Directed Support is about to be introduced in Northern Ireland and will be rolled out progressively to all disabled people.

What is Self Directed Support?

Self Directed Support is a new initiative for delivering social care, led by the Health and Social Care Board, along similar lines to those followed in England and Scotland over the last few years. The concept, which is being adapted to the context and delivery channels existing in Northern Ireland, offers disabled people and their families a more informed choice in which their care they require is provided.

Self Directed Support (SDS) relates to the way that disabled people and their families can choose the way in which care is provided and allows for greater control and more flexibility by disabled people and their families over a personal budget available through the 5 Health and Social Care Trusts (HSCT(s)). It includes a number of options for getting support.

The individual’s personal budget can be:

  • Taken as a direct payment (funds provided by your HSCT), 
  • A managed budget (where the HSCT holds a budget, but the disabled person is in control of how it is spent), 
  • The HSCT can arrange a service, or 
  • The disabled person  can choose a mixture of these options.

How does it work?

The introduction of SDS means that once a Health and Social Care Trust (HSCT) agrees that a disabled person needs social care support, they can work together with their key worker to agree how that care is to be provided i.e. the way that best meets the disabled person’s assessed needs.

If the disabled person you care for needs help to organise their support they can ask the Trust, family members or a friend to help with this. CILNI can provide advice and support on how this can best be achieved.

What are SDS’s advantages?

The aim of SDS is to promote independence by offering more flexibility on how services are provided to disabled people who are assessed as being eligible for social care support.

SDS enables disabled people to take more control over decisions which affect their 
lives. It is intended to support independent living by giving disabled people more choice, control and flexibility over their own care.

How can SDS benefit you?

SDS allows you to choose what type of support you receive and where and 
when you receive it. For example you might want to:

  • Have your support staff visit at a time that you choose.
  • Employ your own personal assistant and choose how and what time they work for you.

The Southern HSCT has been running a SDS pilot, to see how SDS could benefit you or someone you know, read Jude’s, Ruth’s and Wendy’s stories.

• Jude’s Story – Transcript of video

• Ruth’s Story – Transcript of video

• Wendy’s Story – Transcript of video

How does it work?

The Health and Social Care Board has produced a video entitled “The Self Directed Support Pick ‘n’ Mix” explaining how Self Directed Support could work for you. You can watch the video on our Videos and Podcasts page.

Alternatively, you can read the Transcript of the Pick ‘n’ Mix video.

You can also view or download the frequently asked questions (FAQS) for:

  • Service Users
  • Carers.

When will SDS be available?

SDS conducted an Equality Impact Assessment consultation over a 12 week period which ended on at the beginning of May, 2015.

Positive feedback was received and following further analysis, it was planned to roll out to roll SDS out throughout the whole of Northern Ireland

Further information on the consultation is available to view or download from the Previous Consultation section of the Health and Social Care board’s website and the full Equality Impact Assessment document will be published when completed.

What if you are happy with your current support arrangements?

You do not have to change your own support if you prefer not to. You can have support arranged by the Trust, continued to use Direct Payments on their own, or you can have a mixed package where you direct some of your support.

SDS provides a menu of options which offers you more choice, greater control and more flexibility over the way your care and support needs can be met.

A series of information days entitled “SDS Stakeholder Events” have been taking place/will take place throughout the 5 HSCT areas:

  • 28 May – Omagh (Western HSCT)
  • 10 June – Downpatrick (South Eastern HSCT)
  • 15 June – Ballymena (Northern HSCT)
  • 29 June –Craigavon (Southern HSCT)

More information on Self Directed Support

For more information on Self Directed Support, speak to your key worker in social services or contact CILNI.

CILNI hosts a visit from ILF Scotland

On Wednesday, 29 July 2015, CILNI was delighted to host a visit to its head office by representatives of ILF Scotland, the organisation which will provide ongoing support to ILF users in Northern Ireland. Two members of the senior management team, Peter Scott (Chief Executive Officer) and Harvey Tilley (Operations Manager) met with members of the board and staff of CILNI to explain how they have been established and would operate to support disabled people now and in the future.

Peter and Harvey have spent a couple of days in Northern Ireland meeting a number of interested parties, including local politicians and staff from the Health and Social Care Board and Health and Social Care Trusts.
It was a really positive and informative meeting and we very much look forward to working in partnership with ILF Scotland in the future.

Peter Scott, CEO, explaining the workings of ILF Scotland to CILNI. Harvey Tilley, their Operations Manager, is seen sitting to the right of Peter.



On 19 of May 2015, recipients of support from the UK wide Independent Living Fund (ILF) finally got the result for which they have been hoping! This will remove the high level of uncertainty and anxiety experienced by all ILF users since 2010.

We had known for 5 years that UK Government’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was closing the ILF, and from 1 July 2015 the ILF will be devolved to the devolved administrations and local authorities in England.

In a written statement to the Assembly, the NI Minister at the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Simon Hamilton, said: "In Northern Ireland, responsibility and funding for the administration and payment of ILF users will transfer from the Department of Social Development to my Department. We’ve carried out a public consultation on how ILF users in Northern Ireland would be best supported after the closure of the ILF at the end of June 2015 by the UK Government. It was clear that the majority of respondents preferred Option 2 (i.e. to form a discreet successor body to the ILF).

I have liaised closely with my counterpart in the Scottish Government, Health Secretary Shona Robison, and we have reached an in-principle agreement that ILF payments for users in Northern Ireland will be administered through the newly-created Scottish system. This is the most cost-effective solution to ensure that ILF recipients in Northern Ireland continue to benefit, and I am pleased that we have been able to work with the administration in Scotland to achieve this."


Members of the ILF User Group NI and supporters (including CILNI Director Philomena McCrory on the front row) meeting the Minister on 19 May 2015 to hear the announcement in person.

The Scottish Government’s Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "The new Independent Living Fund Scotland company (ILF Scotland) has been established by Scottish Ministers to deliver services to the 2,900 existing users of ILF in Scotland from 1 July 2015. I am delighted that our agreement with Northern Ireland DHSSPS will mean that ILF Scotland will provide the same high quality service to Northern Ireland’s 612 existing ILF recipients."

Services will continue to be provided on the same basis and in line with the comprehensive series of policy documents which set out policy and procedure under which the UK ILF has operated previously.

Minister Hamilton added: "I am confident that recipients of the ILF in Northern Ireland, their families and carers will welcome this important development which underscores my commitment that my Department would do all that it could to ensure that ILF recipients in Northern Ireland would not be disadvantaged by DWP’s decision to close the fund."

To read the Minister's written statement, click here.

This is a fantastic result for all those who campaigned so actively and effectively to ensure that the current level of ILF support remained in place for ILF users in Northern Ireland. This will remove In particular, huge credit must go to the ILF Users Group NI which was so ably organised by Niqi and Charles Rainey. It is excellent example of what can be achieved by a user-led organisation formed by highly motivated disabled people, their friends and supporters. It is also pleasing to see how the group was strongly supported by a number of other disablity organisations including CILNI, Disability Action, MS Society NI and Mencap NI.

If you wish to get in touch with the ILF User Group NI, please contact:

Charles and Niqi Rainey, ILF User Group NI

Phone: 07770 430441

Email: ilf_users_ni@hotmail.co.uk








Workplace Pensions Update: Potential good news

Speaking at the South Eastern HSCT SDS Stakeholder Engagement event in Downpatrick on 10 June 2015, Geraldine Fleming, the SDS Project Team lead from the Health and Social Care Board gave an assurance that a provision for the costs of Workplace Pensions was being included in the cost of employing personal assistants as part of the model being used for the introduction of Self Directed Support. Direct Payments is an integral part of the options which will be available under to disabled people under Self Directed Support. (See separate news article on Self Directed Support.)

It is very good news that the problem of funding Workplace Pensions is being addressed at a high level within the Health and Social Care Board. Geraldine also confirmed that they were aware that, in addition to the basic cost of the Employer's pension contribution, there will be considerable additional costs arising from auto enrolment and registration, setting up and administering the pensions.

CILNI will now watch to see if the “provision” made by the Health and Social Care Board, operating through the 5 Health and Social Care Trusts will be sufficient to meet the full cost of Workplace Pensions.

The complex requirements and significant costs of Workplace Pensions Is a real worry for disabled people who employ personal assistants to meet their care and support needs.

We were delighted that Radio 4's Money Box programme chose to lead with this important issue on their programme on 23 May 2015 and followed it up with an update on Saturday, 30 May 2015, to which CILNI made a contribution. A longer interview had been recorded in Belfast the previous day but, unfortunately, much of the content explaining the different arrangements in Northern Ireland and our particular problems, did not survive the final edit. Both programmes will be available to listen to on the BBC iPlayer for some time.

BBC Radio 4 have now followed it up with a 30 minute Money Box Live special on the subject of auto enrolment for Workplace Pensions at 3 PM on Wednesday, 17 June 2015. You can listen to this programme on the BBC iPlayer or by clicking here.

This new Government Workplace pensions initiative, to ensure that people to provide for their retirement, could potentially have a big negative impact on the existing policy of providing direct payments to disabled individuals. Unless adequate funding is made available, the 2 policies could potentially be in direct conflict with the danger that many disabled people will no longer be able to lead independent and active lives. This in turn will result in an increased costly demands on the NI health and social services. Major benefits to both disabled individuals and society as a whole will be lost as a result of any false economy in failing to adequately fund these additional pension costs. (The initial cost of funding workplace pensions will be relatively low but, as the contribution rates rise progressively over coming years, the problem will magnify.)

CILNI has been flagging up this important issue for several years now and it would be good to get an official assurance that full funding will be provided in Northern Ireland to meet  the costs of auto enrolment and registrationsetting up and administering workplace pensions. Otherwise there is a real danger that direct payments may cease to be an attractive and/or or even viable option.


The law on workplace pensions has changed.  All Employers are now legally required to provide and make payments into a pension for certain workers. 

“Does this apply to me?” If you employ a Personal Assistant it almost certainly does. Read onto find out.

Auto Enrolment and Workplace Pensions

A new law means that every Employer, with at least one paid Worker/Personal Assistant, will be required to automatically enroll some or all of their Personal Assistants (PAs), depending on age and salary level, into a pension scheme that meets certain minimum standards. Some PAs will also have the right to ask their employer to enroll them into the pension scheme. This is called automatic enrolment.

Depending on the worker’s age and salary level, Employers may be required to make contributions to this pension scheme, adding to the contributions made by their PAs.

Auto Enrolment is being phased in between now and 2018 with Employers being allocated a “staging date” which sets out when the Employer must have a pension scheme in place.  Employers will receive a letter from the Pensions Regulator to let them know their staging date 12 months in advance.  (Note for CILNI Payroll Users – if you get a letter advising of your staging date please forward immediately to CILNI or direct to Pauley Business Services)  

You can also find your ‘staging date’ by clicking on the following link: http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/employers/tools/staging-date.aspx

The Pensions Regulator, a public body set up by the UK government to regulate all UK workplace pension schemes, has provided brief information entitled “The essential guide to automatic enrolment” for people who employ workers for their own care and support. To read or download the guide, click here.

Alternatively you can get it by going to the Pension Regulator’s own website at: http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/docs/The_essential_guide_for_people_who_employ_their_own_care_and_support.pdf

The purpose of this article is only to provide you with some initial information regarding automatic enrolment and Workplace Pensions. More detailed information will follow shortly on this website and in the form of new information leaflets/sheets.

CILNI Payroll Service

The CILNI Payroll Service will be able to provide service users with all the support and guidance that they need and take you through the process step-by-step. The service has a small number of service users with a staging date in the next six months and we will be taking the opportunity during this period to conduct a pilot study during which the payroll service team will be able to learn exactly what needs to be done with regard to enrolment, how it will work within the payroll, the work needed to set up pension schemes, the records to be kept and the completion of online returns.

Once we know exactly what is involved, will be able to fine tune our systems. Unfortunately, the extra work needed will inevitably give rise to additional costs for the payroll service, both for the initial enrolment of PAs and the setup of the pension schemes. As the CILNI Payroll Service is run on a full cost recovery basis, and we would not be allowed to cross-subsidise it from our core statutory funding, this will probably result in an increased charge for the service.

We will update you further once we have been able to assess the full cost implications of the new Workplace Pensions on the CILNI Payroll Service.

Important note: If you do your own payroll, or if you just want more information at this stage, the Pension Regulator has created a section on their website dealing with the most common questions on automatic enrolment and Workplace Pensions. To see these questions, please click here. Http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/automatic-enrolment-enquiries

Reminder regarding the Employment Allowance for some employers

National Insurance Contributions (NIC) Employment Allowance

The NIC Employment Allowance is an annual allowance which is available to many Employers and can be offset against their Employer NIC liability. When it was first introduced in April 2014, people employing care and support workers were specifically excluded. However the then Chancellor George Osborne announced in December 2014 that from April 2015, the government would also extend the annual NIC Employment Allowance to those households that employ care and support workers. This goes some way towards compensating for the fact that Employers can no longer claim back Statutory Sick Pay.

In January 2016, HMRC announced that this alllowance would increase by £1,000 to £3,000 from April 2016.      

This allowance does not mean that you will receive £3,000 into your bank account each 6th April. Instead, it reduces the amount of Employer’s National Insurance you pay to HMRC, up to £3,000 in a tax year. So if you usually pay less than £32,000 to HMRC a year in respect of Employer’s NI, it will eliminate this bill completely – but remember you will still have to deduct Employee’s NI and PAYE from your staff’s wages and pay those over to HMRC.

If you are using a Payroll Service the allowance will automatically be applied.  If you are doing your own returns using HMRC Basic Tools or other payroll software you will be prompted to put ‘Yes’ in the ‘Employment Allowance indicator’ field when you send an Employment Payment Summary (EPS) to HMRC. You will only have to do this once; once set, the claim will continue automatically from year to year.

New videos available on this website


We have added two new videos produced by CILNI in which service users describe the significant benefits they have gained from using Direct Payments. They are both relatively short and well worth a look.

The two new videos are:

  • “Good Days” – Norma and Billy's story (5mins 27secs).
  • “Confidence and Independence” – Jane’s story (8mins 40secs).

CILNI is delighted that, so far, everyone who has seen the videos has said how inspirational they find them. To see them, click here.

If you haven’t already seen it, you may also find it interesting to have a look at another video produced recently by CILNI entitled “Getting My Life Back” – Laura's story (5mins 58secs).



CILNI Western Area Office on the move!

We are pleased to announce that our Western Area office has moved to new premises in Market Street, Omagh.  After 7 years working in a very confined office without a window, Helen, Francine and Rosemary really appreciate having a little extra space, fresh air and daylight.  
Helen, Rosemary and Francine in the new office
The new address is:
62 Market Street
BT78 1EL
Telephone: 028 8224 8926
Twitter: #cfilni

Another Generous Donation to CILNI from the Perennials Rugby Club

It is wonderful that we continue to receive generous support of the Perennials Rugby Club, an over 40s team based in Belfast. on Sunday, 7 September 2014, our Treasurer, Bill Riddall, and David Gray collected a cheque for £1500 after the first match of the season.

The match against Belfast Harlequins took place at the Quins' Deramore Park ground in Belfast on a fine early autumn day and was played over 3x20 minute periods. An enthusiastic crowd enjoyed an entertaining match with moments of real skill, timely passing and bursts of genuine speed. Many players had moments of glory reminiscent of younger years. Perennials eventually emerged the winners by 6 tries to 5.

Photos below: Bill & David watching the match, Bill receiving the cheque from Colin McKee (the Perennials' president) and the pre-match photo.

CILNI publishes new range of Direct Payments information leaflets

We are delighted to announce that we now have available the following information leaflets explaining how Direct Payments can help specific categories of disabled people.


The new leaflets are (click the title to view):

  1. Direct Payments for Disabled Children and Young People
  2. Direct Payments for Older People
  3. Direct Payments for People with Mental Health Needs  
  4. Direct Payments for People with a Learning Disability  
  5. Direct Payments for People with a Physical Disability or Sensory Impairment

If you would like you would like a hard copy of one or all of these information leaflets, please contact CILNI Head Office in Belfast.






The English High Court gives green light to PIP legal challenge

The High Court granted permission on 3 May 2013 for a full hearing of the judicial review challenge to the Government’s introduction of more stringent qualifying criteria for mobility benefit.

By agreement between the Government’s lawyers and the Court, only one case is going ahead at this stage. It involves a disabled person who can walk only a few metres with a stick and is otherwise dependent on a wheelchair. He was assessed as eligible for the high rate of the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) last year and used this to purchase a Motability vehicle. It is feared that, along with many others, he may lose this benefit under the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) regulations under which the distance which the claimant is assessed as being virtually unable to walk is reduced to 20 metres (as opposed to 50 metres under DLA).

A representative of Public Law Solicitors representing be claimant said “I am very pleased that the court has found that this case deserves a full hearing.  The higher rate of mobility benefit can make an extraordinary difference to a disabled person’s life.  But the Government failed to mention the reduction to 20m in their consultations and so those who might be affected did not have the chance to put their case and explain how devastating the consequences will be.”  

CILNI will continue to monitor the legal action and update the website with any further developments.


From 8 April 2013, the UK government is introducing a new benefit called Personal Independent Payment (PIP) to replace Disability Living Allowance for eligible working age people aged 16 to 64.

There are currently no plans to replace Disability Living Allowance for children under 16 and people aged 65 and over who are already receiving Disability Living Allowance.

The UK government says it is committed to supporting disabled people to continue to lead independent and active lives and that it recognises that disabled people can face additional challenges. The PIP is, like the Disability Living Allowance, to be an extra cost, non-means tested disability benefit for disabled people. The PIP is to be based on an assessment of individual need. The new assessment will focus on an individual’s ability to carry out a range of key activities necessary to everyday life. Information will be gathered from the individual, as well as healthcare and other professionals who work with and support the disabled person. Most disabled people will also be asked to a face-to-face consultation with an independent assessor is part of the claim process. The PIP criteria will be different in certain respects from the criteria previously used for the Disability Living Allowance. For example, under the latest draft PIP regulations published on 9 January 2013, the enhanced mobility component for physical difficulty getting around is the inability to walk more than 20 metres (a far shorter distance than the 50 metres proposed previously). Under the enhanced mobility component of Disability Living Allowance, the criteria was more flexible, ranging from being virtually unable to walk, experiencing great discomfort when walking, that the exertion required to walk would constitute a danger or likely to lead to a serious deterioration in health, or the person is both deaf and blind.

From June 2013, all new claims from disabled people will be assessed under the criteria for the PIP.

Existing Disability Living Allowance recipients who are aged 16 to 64 on 8 April 2013 will be affected by the introduction of PIP, even if they have an indefinite or lifetime award of Disability Living Allowance. Existing Disability Living Allowance recipients should receive a letter containing more information in February and March 2013. Initially, they will be affected if they report a change in their health condition or how their disability affects them, they reach the end of an existing award of Disability Living Allowance or if the recipient reaches the age of 16.

From 2015 onwards, the remaining recipients of Disability Living Allowance will be contacted.

There is no automatic transfer from Disability Living Allowance to Personal Independence Payment. All Disability Living Allowance recipients will have to be reassessed under the PIP criteria.

By introducing this replacement benefit, the UK government is seeking to achieve a 20% reduction in the cost of PIP as compared with the current cost of Disability Living Allowance. It is estimated that up to 500,000 disabled people who currently receive Disability Living Allowance will not qualify for support under Personal Independence Payments. Yet again, this is another government instigated reform which will add stress and uncertainty to the lives of disabled people – particularly as the Disability Living Allowance was widely viewed by disabled people as one of the fairest and least-stigmatised benefits available.


Further information on the Personal Independence Payment can be found on the Nidirect Government Services website by clicking here or on the UK Department of Work and Pensions website by clicking here.

In order to introduce the change in Northern Ireland, enabling legislation to adapt it to Northern Ireland specific needs has been introduced to the Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont as part of the Welfare Reform Bill. The Bill was introduced by the Social Development Minister, Nelson McCausland, on 1 October 2012 and received its 2nd reading on 9 October 2012. The Bill has now entered the committee stage working to a deadline of 22 January 2013. To monitor the progress of the Welfare Reform Bill on the Northern Ireland Assembly website, click here.

Disability Rights UK have also produced a useful factsheet available by clicking here


Customer Care and Critical Care Registers operated by utility companies in Northern Ireland

Under new legislation elderly customers and those with special needs are entitled to additional assistance from electricity, gas and water companies.  Known as Customer Care and Critical Care registers, these records have always been maintained by utility companies but in recent times have become a statutory obligation.

Customers who are registered for a Customer Care scheme can avail of additional services such as bills in different formats like Braille or large print, adapted equipment and password schemes to help identify representatives from the utility company who might visit their home. 

Critical Care Registers are for customers who rely on electrical equipment or on a water supply for their day-to-day care.  This service is provided by Northern Ireland Water (NI Water) and by Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE), who own and maintain the electricity and water infrastructure for everyone, regardless of who bills the consumer for actual usage of these utilities.

Medical equipment such as oxygen concentrators, home dialysis machines and vital signs monitoring equipment all rely on these essential services, and signing up for a Critical Care Register allows customers who depend on equipment like this to have their contact details prioritised by the companies involved.

This becomes particularly relevant when there are service outages. For example, in the event of a scheduled interruption to the electricity supply NIE will contact a registered consumer at least three days before the interruption with details of how long the electricity is likely to be off; in the event of a power cut or other unexpected interruption the customer will be kept similarly updated.  Likewise, if the water is to be turned off for more than four hours NI Water will give customers 48 hours notice and, in the event of a prolonged loss of service, will arrange an alternative water supply.

CILNI would encourage all disabled persons and/or persons of a pensionable age to register.

For further information on how to register, and details of which services are offered by which company, please contact the service provider directly. Full contact details are provided below this article.

Research by the Consumer Council has shown however that there are relatively low levels of registration for these services throughout Northern Ireland even though utility companies are obliged by law to keep registers of customers who are of pensionable age, disabled and/or chronically ill. Accordingly, the Consumer Council is keen to ensure that all those entitled to these services avail of them.

In an effort to find out the problem, the Consumer Council is also asking if you could take a a few minutes to complete a questionnaire for them to inform the future work in this area and, if necessary, take up specific issues with the utility companies The survey can be found at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SMVKR96 or by clicking here. It should take a couple of minutes to complete and your response will not be attributed to you – unless you indicate otherwise. Your co-operation would be greatly appreciated by the Council

Contact Details for the utility companies:


Power NI (Customer Care)
Telephone: 08457 455 455
Minicom: 08457 147 128
E-mail: home@powerni.co.uk
Website: www.powerni.co.uk
Power NI
120 Malone Road
Belfast BT9 5HT

NIE (Critical Care)
Telephone: 08457 643 643
Minicom: 08457 147 128
E-mail: customercontact@nie.co.uk
Website: www.nie.co.uk
Northern Ireland Electricity
120 Malone Road
Belfast BT9 5HT

Airtricity (Special Assistance)
Telephone: 0845 601 9093
Fax: 028 9043 7750
E-mail: customerservice@airtricity.com
Website: www.airtricity.com
Airtricity Supply (NI) Ltd
2nd Floor
83-85 Great Victoria Street
Belfast BT2 7AF

Budget Energy
Telephone: 0800 012 1177
Fax: 0287 1275099
E-mail: customerservice@budgetenergy.co.uk
Website: www.budgetenergy.co.uk
Budget Energy Ltd
Energy House, 30-32 Ballinska Road
Springtown Industrial Estate
Derry/Londonderry BT48 0LY

Electric Ireland
Telephone: 0845 600 5335
Email: customerservice@electricireland.com
Website: www.electricireland.com
Electric Ireland
Forsyth House, Cromac Square
Belfast BT2 8LA


Airtricity Phoenix Supply Ltd (Energy Care Scheme)

Telephone: 0845 900 5253
Emergency number 0800 731 4710
Minicom: 028 9055 5801
E-mail: http://www.airtricitygasni.com/contact-us/
Website: http://www.airtricitygasni.com/at-home/help-and-advice/phoenix-energy-care-scheme/
Phoenix Supply Ltd
197 Airport Road West
Belfast BT3 9ED

Firmus Energy (Firmuscare scheme)
Telephone: 08456 08 00 88
Textphone/Minicom: 08456 03 10 08
E-mail: furtherinfo@firmusenergy.co.uk
Website: www.firmusenergy.co.uk
firmus energy
Kilbegs Business Park
Antrim BT41 4NN


Northern Ireland Water (Customer Care Register)
Telephone: 08457 440088
Typetalk: 08457 440088
E-mail: waterline@niwater.com
Website: www.niwater.com
Address: Northern Ireland Water
PO Box 1026
Belfast BT1 9DJ


Northern Ireland Independent Living Fund User Group

Northern Ireland Independent Living User Fund User Group

This Important local user group Issued a briefing paper entitled "The Future of the Independent Living Fund in Northern Ireland". To read the paper and/or print a copy, please click here.


Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety announces reform of Adult Care and Support


The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety announces the reform of Adult Care and Support

The Department takes the view that he Northern Ireland population is getting older, and while this is  a cause for celebration, they know that more of us will need care and support as we grow older. People today also have different ideas and expectations about the care and support they need, and increasingly want control over how their needs are met. All this is happening in a constrained financial climate.

For this reason, the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety says that it will undertake a process to reform care and support services in Northern Ireland. In NI, the Department provides or secures the majority of care and support services through adult social care, which is part of the health and social care (HSC) system.

Adult social care is available to any adult who requires assistance due to disability, vulnerability, illness, incapacity or old age, and is designed to promote independence, social inclusion, safeguarding and wellbeing. It also includes services that are provided for those people who care for family members or friends.

Examples of services that are provided through adult social care include:

  • Day care
  • Domiciliary care (care in the home)
  • Nursing home care
  • Residential home care
  • Meals on Wheels
  • Social work
  • Respite
  • Information/Advice/Counselling
  • Provision of equipment

Other government departments also provide services which can support people to lead more independent lives, and make up part of the care and support system.  For example, services provided through the Department for Social Development (DSD) include:

  • Benefits (Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Attendance Allowance and Carer’s Allowance)
  • Housing Adaptations (minor and major changes to the home such as rails or hoists)
  • Supported Housing (support at home to help people live more independently)

Reform Process

The reform process will have 3 stages:

1.     A discussion document about the future of care and support in NI;

2.     A proposals document setting out a range of option for the future;

3.     A final strategic document setting out the planned direction of care and support services in NI.

Stage 1 – Consultation on "Who Cares?  The Future of Adult Care and Support in Northern Ireland"

The first stage of the reform process is now underway.  The discussion document "Who Cares?  The Future of Adult Care and Support in Northern Ireland" is now available via the link below.  A shorter, more accessible version of the discussion document is also available via the link, and an Easy Read version will be made available shortly.  A response proforma to help you set out your views is also accessible on the Department’s website or by clicking below; alternatively, you can fill out and submit the online questionnaire.

Consultation Events

The Department also running a number of events throughout the six month period of public consultation. (A list of events is available on the Department’s website.) Attendance at the events is free; if you have any access or dietary requirements (for example, you require Braille copies of papers or have a nut allergy), you need to pre-register with the Reform Team using the contact details below.

Alternatively, if you are a member of a local organisation or group and want to discuss the issues raised in the consultation at a group meeting, a stakeholder pack is available on the Department’s website to assist you.


For more information, visit the Department’s website by clicking here orcontact the reform team at:


Reform of Adult Care and Support Team

Room D3.7 Castle Buildings
Stormont Estate
Belfast BT4 3SQ

Email:  reform.careandsupport@dhsspsni.gov.uk

Tel:  02890 765630

Fax:  02890 765621

Textphone: 02890 163426

Interim arrangements: "capacity to consent"


The Department of Health, Social Security & Public Safety has issued guidance on its website to the five Health & Social Care Trusts on the interim arrangements to be followed regarding direct payments for persons who lack "capacity to consent". 

To read the guidance  click here.


These interim arrangements have become necessary following a judicial review in 2011 which highlighted that the Northern Ireland legislation governing direct payments in that the legislation does not currently permit the making of direct payments for care to a person who does not have the mental capacity to consent to the making of such an arrangement.

It is the Department's intention to amend the Carers and Direct Payments Act (Northern Ireland) 2002 to allow another person to receive direct payments on behalf of a disabled person who lacks capacity to consent to such payments. This will of course sort out the matter properly so that, as in Scotland, England and Wales, all disabled people with needs in Northern Ireland can become eligible to benefit from the direct payment system. It is estimated however that it may take at least two years for the existing act to be amended.

The Department of Health, Social Security & Public Safety has a page dedicated to direct payments on its website at: http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/index/hss/ec-community-care/directpayments-about.htm

CILNI welcomes important intiative

Consultation on a disability strategy entitled 'A strategy to improve the lives of disabled people – 2012 to 2015'

Centre for Independent Living NI welcomes the recent launch of the consultation on the long-awaited Northern Ireland Executive’s Draft Disability Strategy. This is an important milestone in promoting the rights of disabled people in Northern Ireland and it will be important that we take the opportunity to have our say in the consultation process.

In the document, the Executive states that it is committed to delivering on the requirements of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). The proposed strategy has been shaped by the recommendations of the Promoting Social Inclusion (PSI) Working Group’s report on Disability1 which is the most significant piece of work so far undertaken by government in Northern Ireland in respect of disability. The recommendations in the PSI Report on Disability outline the actions required to address the identified inequalities experienced by people with disabilities and to tackle the barriers that disabled people continue to face in our society.

This strategy is intended to cover all types of disability, children, young people and adults and, where indicated, also addresses the needs of families and carers of people with disabilities. It is important that the diversity of disability is recognised and that Government acknowledges that there are people who will require a greater degree of support than others to participate fully in social, economic, political and cultural life.

The document sets out the vision as - A future where disabled people contribute to and benefit from the cultural, social, political and economic life of Northern Ireland on an equal basis as others. The context of the purpose of the UNCRPD is also highlighted.

The goals of the strategy, as set out in the PSI report, on Disability relate to:

• Choice and Control

• Early Years and Family Support

• Transitions to Adulthood

• Independent Living

• Employment and Employability

• Information and Communication

• Bringing About Change

CILNI is particularly pleased that ‘Choice and Control’ and ‘Independent Living’ are highlighted as two of the key Goals in the Strategy and we look forward to contributing to the discussion on how these goals can be achieved.

Copies of the document and how to respond along with dates for consultation events are available from: http://www.ofmdfmni.gov.uk/index/equality/disability.htm