Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has reiterated a call for the British government to amend a ‘cruel’ element of the Personal Independence Payments (PIP) process which is adding to the suffering of terminally-ill claimants.
The Foyle MLA was speaking after a report by Stormont’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for Terminal Illness, found that many dying claimants are having to fight for financial support and wait months to receive their benefits.
The report recommended that the British government amend the legal definition of terminal illness and allow GPs to decide when a patient is terminally ill.
Karen Mullan 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, the evidence shows that this time period is much too restrictive and should be extended to all those facing a terminal illness.
“While rescinding the six-month restriction is the responsibility of the British government, Sinn Féin has repeatedly raised the issue with the Department for Communities and asked them to do preparatory work so that the groundwork has been done for when the six-month restriction is lifted.
“The parties here have made repeated requests calling on the British government to scrap the six-month time restriction.
“To date they have refused to do so but I believe there can be no justification for a refusal to accept the compelling case put forward by the all-party group.
“The British government cannot continue to ignore the evidence from clinicians and claimants that this rule is adding further trauma to people who are already suffering grievously.
“It is for this reason that the Scottish parliament has already introduced new legislation to rescind the six-month limit and we will continue to lobby for the same to happen here.”