A ‘cruel’ element of the Personal Independence Payments (PIP) process which is adding to the suffering of terminally-ill claimants must be scrapped if a new review of the system is to mean anything, Sinn Féin MLA Alex Maskey has said.
The party’s Welfare spokesperson was commenting after it was confirmed that the Department for Work and Pensions is to conduct an ‘honest and in depth evaluation’ of how the welfare benefits system supports people nearing the end of their life.
Alex Maskey said: “There a number of issues with regard to how the benefits system treats people who are terminally ill or facing severe conditions.
“For instance, 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.
“We have repeatedly called for this six-month restriction to be scrapped as it is adding to the trauma of people who are already suffering grievously.
“I have written to the Department of Communities here to stress the need for our concerns to be incorporated into the DWP review.
“If this evaluation is to mean anything it needs to scrap the six month restriction and begin taking the cruelty out of the benefits process.”