In Parliament this week I called on the UK Government to scrap the so-called ‘six-month’ rule which prevents terminally-ill people being fast-tracked for benefits.
Yesterday the Government announced that it would be reviewing the benefits system for the terminally-ill, which has been described by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Terminal Illness as ‘outdated, arbitrary and not based on clinical reality’.
Bridgend MP Madeleine Moon MP has led the campaign for a new Terminal Illness Definition Bill, which would change the law to allow clinicians to determine whether a person is terminally ill – instead of adhering to a mandatory time-limit.
Speaking in Business Questions, I said “Today the government has announced that it will be reviewing the benefits system for terminally ill people. This is an issue my honourable friend from Bridgend has been working tirelessly on for many years. Instead of this taking more time why doesn’t the government simply adopt her Terminal Illness Definition Bill, and the comprehensive research already done by the APPG for Terminal Illness who are supported by Marie Curie and the MND Association?”
In response, the Leader of the House Mel Stride MP said that the Government’s review would be ‘thorough’ and that the Secretary of State had ‘personal and powerful feelings’ on the importance of these matters.
The Government’s decision to review the existing benefits system for the terminally-ill is long-overdue. It’s vital that this review leads to a fairer system which enables people with complex and unpredictable terminal illnesses, such as motor neurone disease, to apply for benefits in a way that is far better suited to their needs and circumstances.