Ulster Unionist Peer Lord Rogan and Antrim and Newtownabbey Councillor Robert Foster have urged the Secretary of State to encourage Northern Ireland departments to take steps to create a fairer and more compassionate PIP system for terminally-ill people in Northern Ireland, in the absence of Executive Ministers.
Speaking on Tuesday in the House of Lords, Lord Rogan said:
“Everyone will be fully aware of the excellent work done by Marie Curie to support those living with terminal illness and their families. Marie Curie has been campaigning to reform the special rules determining eligibility for personal independence payments for terminally ill people.
“There are special rules for terminal illness under PIP, which allow terminally ill people to access their payments quickly and without a face-to-face assessment. But only those with a diagnosis of six months or less to live are eligible to apply under these rules. Experts from across the medical community have said that this is too restrictive. In June an independent review of PIP recommended that the six-month life expectancy criterion determining eligibility under the terminal illness rules be removed. However, in the absence of an Executive at Stormont, the changes required have not been actioned.
“The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, has talked about allowing Northern Ireland departments to make decisions in the public interest. As Joan McEwan from Marie Curie Northern Ireland recently said: “There can be no doubt that creating a fairer and more compassionate PIP system for terminally-ill people in Northern Ireland falls into this category”. I agree, and I humbly invite the Minister to take Joan’s words on board.
Antrim and Newtownabbey Councillor Robert Foster said:
“Yesterday’s comments by Lord Rogan in the House of Lords will be welcomed right across the political spectrum in Northern Ireland. I recently joined Lord Rogan and Lord Empey as part of an Ulster Unionist delegation which met with representatives of Marie Curie and Motor Neurone Disease Association Northern Ireland (MNDANI) where we heard at first hand the difficulties being experienced regarding PIP assessments, from people who already have more than enough to deal with.
“It is essential that the system in Northern Ireland is amended in line with the independent review in June, and the lack of Executive Ministers to sign off should not be a barrier to common sense and compassion being shown in such cases.”