Mid and East Borough Council has given its backing to a motion calling for greater assistance for members of the public seeking Personal Independent Payment (PIP) support.
PIP was introduced to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA), as part of a wider reform of UK social welfare.
However, Larne councillor Paul Reid told the most recent meeting of the full council that the system needed to be made more sympathetic of claimants.
He said: “This notice of motion is all about the PIP test, used by the Department for Work and Pensions to decide whether you are entitled to the Personal Independent Payment.
“There are two sections in the PIP test. The components of the PIP are for daily living and mobility.
“The PIP is a benefit for people aged 16-64 to help with some of the extra costs caused by poor long-term health or a disability.
“On the government website under PIP assessment they state, we understand, that the benefit system can be confusing. It is a very true statement.
“Madam Mayor, PIP allows, if terminally ill, you may be able to claim under special rules.
“However, the Government’s definition of terminally ill is if you have a disease that will get worse and your death can be reasonably expected within six months.
“Therein lies the problem. While people who are diagnosed, for example, with dementia or motor neuron disease, there is no cure and sadly the illness does get worse. When someone is diagnosed with such illnesses they should not be asked to continuously re-test.
“I would like to share with you John’s story. John recently spoke in a very moving and powerful manner about living with dementia.
“He asked that the council and I pick up their battle about PIP claims.
“He is every clear – but at times he doesn’t know the answers to questions he’s asked by doctors. Sometimes he can’t remember what he had for breakfast let alone questions during a PIP assessment.
“It is totally unacceptable for people like John to have to go through this process time after time and I would ask this council to send a clear message that we support people like John and others.
“Those who have been diagnosed with dementia and other progressive conditions, such as motor neuron diseases. Let’s stand up for our fellow citizens and their rights.”
The motion was seconded by Alderman Gregg McKeen.