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Parties unite over ‘cruel’ benefit restriction for terminally ill - Maskey

25 June, 2018 - by Alex Maskey

The five main political parties here have combined to call for a controversial element of the Personal Independence Payments (PIP) to be amended, Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey has said.

PIP currently allows for applications to be fast-tracked without an assessment for claimants with a terminal illness who have a life-expectancy of no more than six months.

However, Sinn Féin Welfare spokesperson Alex Maskey said this time period was much too restrictive and should be extended to all those facing a terminal illness.

He commented: “There are many cruel elements of the welfare cuts agenda being imposed by the British Government but this is one of the worst in that it adds trauma and uncertainty to people who are already facing a tragic prognosis.

 “Currently a doctor must confirm that life expectancy is limited to within six months but clinicians argue that this is much too restrictive. Most people in these circumstances are already facing financial hardship and denying them speedy access to their entitlements is only adding to their ordeal.

 “The criteria should be extended to all those who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness so that they do not have to face lengthy delays for their entitlements.

"The Scottish parliament has introduced new legislation to rescind the six month limit on definition of terminal illness which will apply from 2019.

“While the parties have agreed to ask the Department for Communities to establish a working group to engage with the Scottish parliament on this issue, all five parties have now called on the British Government directly to scrap the six month time restriction."

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