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Welfare system 'failing' terminally ill people in Northern Ireland

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Health charities and welfare advice groups have warned that dying people in Northern Ireland are 'falling through the cracks' in the welfare system. (Lynne Cameron/PA)

Health charities and welfare advice groups have warned that dying people in Northern Ireland are 'falling through the cracks' in the welfare system. (Lynne Cameron/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Health charities and welfare advice groups have warned that dying people in Northern Ireland are 'falling through the cracks' in the welfare system. (Lynne Cameron/PA)

Health charities and welfare advice groups have warned that dying people in Northern Ireland are 'falling through the cracks' in the welfare system.

The groups, including Age NI, Marie Curie, NI Hospice, Wave Trauma Centre and the MS Society, are calling on Stormont to reform what they say are 'cruel' benefit laws for terminally ill people. In a letter to Communities Minister Caral Ni Chuilin, they urged the Government to scrap rules that only allow terminally ill people to claim fast-track access to benefits like PIP and Universal Credit if they can provide evidence that they will die within six months.

Campaigners say the unpredictable nature of many terminal conditions mean dying people are excluded from the fast-track system and are forced to apply under the standard route, which involves more paperwork, face-to-face assessments and longer waiting times.

Craig Harrison, policy and public affairs manager for Marie Curie Northern Ireland, said the system was causing additional stress.

A Department for Communities spokesperson said dealing with people's claims quickly and compassionately was a priority, adding: "That's why terminally ill people can get their claims fast-tracked and access benefits without a face-to-face assessment."

Belfast Telegraph