DUP Welcomes Progress On Vital Terminal Illness Bill

The DUP has welcomed the passing of the second stage of the Social Security Terminal Illness Bill at Stormont.

East Belfast MLA and Chair of the All Party Group on Terminal Illness, Joanne Bunting said: "It is not easy to talk about terminal illness, especially when someone close has lost their life but there is a duty on us as public representatives to change the law and make it better.

"This legislation has cross party support and will extend life expectancy criteria from six to twelve months for those living with a terminal illness. Thus helping more families access vital supports. This is a helpful stepping stone, but ultimately a terminal diagnosis rather than a specified time period is preferable.

"End of life care is so vital and that's why back in April I brought a motion to the Northern Ireland Assembly seeking that the Programme for Government includes indicators around death, dying, bereavement and a good end-of-life experience. This Bill also fits into that agenda for change."
News Image
Stephen Dunne, DUP MLA for North Down and member of the Communities Committee, said: "Under current arrangements, the Special Rules for Terminal Illness in Social Security law within Northern Ireland allows applicants to gain 'fast-track' access to vital welfare payments, including Personal Independence Payments or PIP, Disability Living Allowance and Universal Credit. However, this support for those living with a terminal illness is all on the proviso that a clinician can state that their death can 'reasonably be expected within 6 months'.

"The restrictive and inhumane reality of this clause means that those who are terminally ill but not afforded the grim luxury of such a devastating timeline, may have years left of struggling mentally, physically, emotionally and financially as they deal with assessments, never-ending bureaucracy and lengthy delays to vital welfare payments.

"The Social Security Terminal Illness Bill will extend life expectancy criteria from six to twelve months, a figure much more in thinking with current clinical evidence and will change it to benefit all welfare payments simultaneously. It will bring a much-needed improved alignment between welfare and health systems based as it is, on the views and experiences of claimants, charities and clinicians.

"This Bill will provide a fairer definition of a terminal illness and is a step in the right direction to better support those diagnosed with a terminal illness and their families."

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

06 January 2022
Investigation Launched Into Extern NI Payments
An investigation has been launched into allegations of "serious irregularities" around government payments made to a charity by Extern NI. According to reports, the Department for the Economy is to investigate Extern NI.
14 January 2022
£55m Energy Payment Support Scheme Announced
A new £55 million Energy Payment Support Scheme for vulnerable people struggling to meet rising energy costs has been announced by Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey. A one-off payment of £200 will be made automatically to around 280,000 eligible people in receipt of specified benefits.
06 January 2022
Fuel Payment Scheme Falls 'Drastically Short Of Whats Needed'
The £2m Emergency Fuel Payment Scheme has been criticised for falling "drastically short of what's needed". SDLP Communities Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has said that the scheme, which opens today, has only been designed to help 20,000 families, leaving huge numbers of people without support in the face of rising energy costs.
21 December 2021
Minister Welcomes Review Of Discretionary Support Scheme
Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has welcomed the publication of a report from a Discretionary Support independent review panel – which was established to ensure the scheme provides adequate support to individuals in crisis situations.
12 January 2022
Call For Executive To Continue Working Together For NI
The Executive must continue working together to solve the problems facing this society, deputy First Minister and Sinn Féin Vice President Michelle O'Neill has said.