The life expectancy of people suffering from a terminal disease is declining due to benefits measures that require about a year and a half to enact, say patient advocates.
The activists responded in indignation, announcing that the government had said it would take “months” longer to amend the Special Laws for Terminal Disease, despite initially agreeing to modify them nineteen months earlier.
Benefit claims received on behalf of the dying are meant to be fast-tracked under the law, which compensate or grant a higher rate to them.
However, several individuals are reluctant to apply, since they are expected to have a doctor’s note stating that they have six months or fewer to live.
The recent estimates reveal that 7,260 people died as they were waiting for a verdict on their claim for Personal Indepence Payment (PIP), or 10 people per day.
After DWP minister Justin Tomlinson made promises that the issues they had been facing will be fixed “shortly”, this week he officially apologised and acknowledged he “understood the frustration” over the delays, supposedly triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.
However, suggesting families could still be waiting months longer, he stated to the House of Commons that the Department hopes be able to bring forward changes to the current system in the near future.
According to press accounts, the Treasury and the Department of Health have suggested reforms, but they are still not authorised because they require permission from both departments.
Mr Tomlinson admitted to members of Parliament that the pandemic triggered delays in the process of reforming the legislation and drawing up a new Act of Parliament.
Mark Jackson of the Marie Curie Cancer Trust said: “Sadly, many of the people who have campaigned for change don’t have that time.
“The people affected by this law… are dying. And many will die before these changes are announced.”
Sandra Smith, who lost her partner, John, to motor neurone disease and dementia a decade ago, said the procedure should be updated to ensure expert views are given greater weight.
She said: “It should not be spent worrying about money, filling in endless forms, being dragged to assessments and fighting for the support they need.”
Susie Rabin of the MND Association said many sufferers who inspired the campaign against the six-month rule have died waiting.
“It’s unacceptable,” she said. “We urge the DWP to publish the outcome of the Review as a matter of urgency so change can happen.”
Labour MP Jessica Morden, who obtained the shocking figures, told MPs: “Dying people deserve to be treated with dignity by the benefits system.
“However much time they have left should be spent living as well as they can for as long as they can, making memories with loved ones.
“It should not be spent worrying about money, filling in endless forms, being dragged to assessments and fighting for the support they need.”