SNP MP Drew Hendry has ramped up calls on the UK government to urgently change DWP rules to allow terminally ill people to get benefits fast-tracked – one year on from a damning report that triggered a promise of a UK government review.
Under current rules, benefits are only fast-tracked if a terminally ill person has a diagnosis of six months or less to live.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Terminal Illness – chaired by Drew Hendry – published a report on the plight of terminally ill people trying to access welfare support.
It found that those affected face financial hardship and crippling debt due to the policy implemented three decades ago.
The inquiry concluded that the current system is “outdated, arbitrary and not based on clinical reality.”
The findings triggered the promise of a review, however Mr Hendry has criticised the UK government for its “deafening silence” since.
In Scotland, the SNP Government has said it will ensure anyone diagnosed with a terminal illness gets fast access to disability benefits when they are introduced.
Commenting, Drew Hendry MP said: “It has been a long year since we published the APPG report along with Marie Curie and the MND Association – however since then we have been battling with the UK government to do the right thing to scrap this arbitrary rule that is having a devastating impact on livelihoods.
“Terminally ill people across the UK are being failed miserably by this Tory government – thousands of people have died waiting for support and their families left with debt and stress, at the same time as grieving for their loved ones.
“The ‘six-month rule’ severely restricts access to vital financial support for many terminally ill people, whose condition will only deteriorate, but who may live for longer than six months.
“The APPG’s inquiry showed that the policy – used extensively to determine how quickly someone gets access to benefits – has no clinical evidence to support its use.
“We were promised a review a year ago – instead we have been met with a deafening silence from the UK government. They can no longer shamefully dodge the issue – the punitive policy must go.”