LETTER: UK Minister urged to publish delayed review

The chairs of two cross-party groups in the UK Parliament have written to Justin Tomlinson MP, the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work to publish its review of how the welfare system treats terminally ill people.

The letter from the Chair of the APPG for Terminal Illness and the Chair of the APPG for Motor Neurone Disease can be found here APPG-Letter-DWP-220621

The announcement of a review by the UK Government was made in July 2019 following a report by Terminal Illness APPG that found that the current legal definition of terminal illness is arbitrary, outdated and not based on clinical reality. Terminally ill people who have an uncertain prognosis and may survive longer than six months are unable to access fast-track support from the benefits system.

Commenting, the Chair of the APPG for Terminal Illness, Drew Hendry said:

“The disgraceful and punitive ‘6 months or less’ policy is actively preventing terminally ill people from accessing benefits and must be scrapped.

“We have been urging the UK government to take action on this issue facing terminally ill people for years.

“The APPG on Terminal Illness’s inquiry report in 2019 revealed that the ‘six-month rule’ leaves terminally ill people facing devastating and far-reaching financial hardship and crippling debt because of a policy brought in three decades ago that has no relevance now.

“UK ministers promised a review of the policy following the report – instead of action, we have been met with a deafening silence. Clinicians, social and palliative care workers and medical experts all recommend reform of this rule.

“Marie Curie and the Motor Neurone Disease Association estimate that more than 6,000 people have died waiting for a decision on their benefits claim since the DWP announced its review IN 2019.

“The six-month rule continues to fail terminally ill people and their families for years – a simple policy fix would stop that.

“The Scottish Government legislated in 2018 to scrap the six-month rule for devolved benefits. However, the rule remains in place for reserved benefits such as Universal Credit. The UK Government must follow the Scottish Government’s lead and scrap the punitive ‘6 months to live’ policy so no one living with a terminal illness in the UK has to prove they have 6 months to live to access fast-tracked welfare support.”

APPG Report