Social Security: Terminal Illness Provision

Oral Answers to Questions — Communities – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 30 November 2021.

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Photo of Cathal Boylan Cathal Boylan Sinn Féin 2:30, 30 November 2021

T3. Mr Boylan asked the Minister for Communities for an update on her plans to extend terminal illness provision in social security benefits. (AQT 1853/17-22)

Photo of Deirdre Hargey Deirdre Hargey Sinn Féin

Yesterday, I introduced the Social Security (Terminal Illness) Bill at First Stage, and I want to remove the six-month rule through that. I got the Executive's approval to move ahead on that. Funding for that will be made up from the Budget. If a similar decision is made at Westminster, that will fall in under our normal social security spend. The legislation is ready. It was introduced yesterday. I will request accelerated passage for the Bill to ensure that we can get it passed in this mandate. Indeed, I know that the Committee for Communities supports me in that endeavour. We are hopeful that it will be done by the end of March and ready before the end of the mandate so that payments can start with the new rule of 12 months from April.

Photo of Cathal Boylan Cathal Boylan Sinn Féin

I thank the Minister for her compassion and leadership on the issue. On the legislative process, does she foresee any issues with getting the Bill through the system?

Photo of Deirdre Hargey Deirdre Hargey Sinn Féin

In fairness, no. I think that everybody is on board. That means all parties in the Executive and, indeed, the Committee, which has been supportive in looking at accelerated passage, even though I know that it is normally not the accepted way in which to do business and legislation. I think that everybody understands the critical nature of the matter, and, with the Assembly ending with purdah in the third week of March, they will try to do all that they can to ensure that that critical legislation is passed before the end of the mandate. I believe that it will happen.