A cross-party group of MPs have written to the Prime Minister to urge him to act ensure the DWP publishes the conclusions of its review as a matter of urgency and that proposals to scrap the six-month rule and make other changes needed to improve access to benefits for people with terminal illness are brought forward as soon as possible.

LETTER SENT BY EMAIL

8 July 2021

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing to express our concern regarding the continued delay in publication of the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) review of how the welfare system supports people living with a terminal illness.

Two years ago, on 11 July 2019 the DWP announced that it would review how dying people are treated by the benefits system. In that time, the charities Marie Curie and the Motor Neurone Disease Association estimate that around 7,000 people may have died while waiting for a decision on their benefits claim.

Fast-track access to welfare benefits is a lifeline for people living with a terminal illness, providing quick access to the financial support they need and avoiding inappropriate assessment processes. This lets people focus on what matters to them in the limited time they have left.

Under the current system, the ‘six-month rule’ that requires terminally ill claimants to obtain a form from a clinician stating that their death can be ‘reasonably expected within six months’ excludes many patients with unpredictable conditions such as motor neurone disease and those with uncertain prognoses from making a fast-track claim.

In 2019 an Inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Terminal Illness found that clinicians, social and palliative care workers and medical experts all recommended reform of this rule.

We welcome the DWP’s review and subsequent commitments by Ministers to scrap the six-month rule. However, while we appreciate there were unavoidable delays to the review process because of the Covid-19 pandemic, terminally ill people do not have time to wait indefinitely for the results of this review to be published and for these reforms to be implemented. As recent data published by the DWP has shown, as many as 100 people a week die waiting for a decision on claims for Personal Independence Payments alone.

We are deeply disappointed that proposals were not brought forward in the Queen’s Speech to make these changes, some of which will require primary legislation.

We urge you to do all you can to ensure the DWP publishes the conclusions of its review as a matter of urgency and that proposals to scrap the six-month rule and make other changes needed to improve access to benefits for people with terminal illness are brought forward as soon as possible.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Drew Hendry MP

Chair of All-Party Parliamentary Group for Terminal Illness

Co-Signed By:

Jessica Morden MP

Diane Abbott MP

Debbie Abrahams MP

Rushanara Ali MP

Tonia Antoniazzi MP

Paula Barker MP

Ian Byrne MP

Lisa Cameron MP

Dan Carden MP

Douglas Chapman MP

Marsha de Cordova MP

Judith Cummins MP

Thangam Debbonaire MP

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi MP

Anneliese Dodds MP

Allan Dorans MP

Peter Dowd MP

Jack Dromey MP

Chris Elmore MP

Stephen Farry MP

Marion Fellows MP

Yvonne Fovargue MP

Vicky Foxcroft MP

Gill Furniss MP

Patricia Gibson MP

Kate Green MP

Andrew Gwynne MP

Carolyn Harris MP

Sharon Hodgson MP

Rachel Hopkins MP

Dan Jarvis MP

Kim Johnson MP

Stephen Kinnock MP

Ian Lavery MP

Chris Law MP

Emma Lewell-Buck MP

Tony Lloyd MP

Carla Lockhart MP

Rebecca Long Bailey MP

Caroline Lucas MP

Kerry McCarthy MP

Andy Macdonald MP

Anna McMorrin MP

Navendu Mishra MP

Stephen Morgan MP

John Nicolson MP

Cat Smith MP

Alex Sobel MP

Jo Stevens MP

Owen Thompson MP

Karl Turner MP

Beth Winter MP

David Linden MP

Gavin Newlands MP

Alan Brown MP

Brendan O’Hara MP