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Winter fuel benefit for terminally ill people should be introduced, says Armstrong

A new winter fuel benefit for terminally ill people should be introduced, Alliance Communities spokesperson Kellie Armstrong MLA has said.

Ms Armstrong was speaking after the launch of a report entitled the Vicious Cycle of Fuel Poverty and Terminal Illness by Marie Curie. The report, launched on Fuel Poverty Awareness Day, examines the cycle of fuel poverty for those with terminal illnesses.

“The recommendations of this important report back many things Alliance has been calling for, including scrapping the cruel ‘six-month rule’ and subsequently providing fast-track access to benefits for those with a terminal illness, and calling for automatic qualification for them for benefits such as winter fuel payments,” said Strangford MLA Ms Armstrong.

“It is vital people with ill health or a terminal illness keep their home warm. The recent additional winter heating payment announced by the Communities Minister is aimed at those with disabilities or on pension credit and is welcome, but the Executive needs to follow this with a winter fuel payment for those with a terminal illness.

“Those with such illnesses can easily get caught up in this cycle, having to spend more to heat their homes, at a time when they are already experiencing depleted incomes, perhaps leading to symptoms flaring up and even in some cases hastening their death. That is not good enough and we must do what we can to prevent it.”