In Parliament I raised the issue of access to benefits for terminally ill people, calling on the Government to scrap the rule that only those with a life expectancy of 6 months or less can access benefits without having to fill in long forms and attend assessments.
Speaking in the adjournment debate last week, I said: “The system of claiming benefits for the terminally ill is completely unfit for purpose. Those living with debilitating terminal conditions such as motor neurone disease have to prove that they have a life expectancy of less than six months to access benefits. In the case of an unpredictable condition such as MND, that is almost impossible. It forces vulnerable people to spend the last months of their lives filling in lengthy forms, attending assessments, meeting work coaches and waiting months for payments. Equally cruel is the three-year benefit award, which means that anyone who lives with a condition like MND for over three years loses their benefits. That means that people who are extremely ill—in some cases, completely paralysed or unable to speak—are receiving letters telling them that their benefits are being stopped unless they make a new claim.”
The Motor Neurone Disease Association have called on the Government to release the results of a review launched in July 2019 into how the benefits system supports people who are terminally ill. Over six months later, there is little sign of progress. More than 1000 people will have died from MND since the review was announced, many struggling to access the benefits they desperately need.
I am calling for reform of a cruel benefits system that’s not fit for purpose and is letting down the terminally ill. We owe it to everyone living with such awful diseases and their families to reform a benefits system that is currently insulting and inhumane.