Disability benefit rules for terminally ill people should be changed immediately so that they receive financial support more quickly, the UK Government has been told.
In July last year, it was announced that the current rule where a person has to have a diagnosis of six months or less to access fast-tracked support will be replaced with a new 12-month end of life definition.
The move will ensure that more terminally people will have their benefits fast-tracked and at the highest rate through revised Special Rules.
However, the changes won’t be introduced until April 2022 – almost ten months after the announcement was made.
In Scotland, the Scottish Government enshrined changes to have no time definition for terminal illness and access to the highest rate of support in the 2018 Social Security Act.
SNP MP Drew Hendry has now called on UK ministers to make the rule change immediately.
Hendry, who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Terminal Illness, has long campaigned for greater access to fast-track disability benefit applications for those with a terminal diagnosis.
He said: “After many years of campaigning for greater support for those living with a terminal illness, I was pleased when the UK government announced they would change the rules to allow those with a terminal illness access benefits quicker.
“However, we are six months down the line and still nothing.
“The APPG on Terminal Illness has heard painful stories from people affected by the cruel six-month rule, the culture of scepticism and dehumanisation at the DWP, and the effect these experiences have on families that can last long into bereavement.”
He continued: “I pay tribute to the people with terminal illness who have fought for the benefit of others in the future and they shouldn’t have to wait any longer.”
“It is already in place in Scotland without a time limit at all.”
Hendry added: “As we head into 2022, I am urging the UK government to change the rules now so that people who have been told they have a year or less to live can access vital financial support.
“It is the very least the UK government can do after making the wait so long already.”
A UK Government spokesperson said: “Terminal illness is devastating, and our priority is dealing with people’s claims quickly and compassionately.
“Those nearing the end of their lives can get fast-track access to the benefits system, with the majority receiving the highest possible award and paid within three days of making a claim.
“We will be extending the current six-month end of life rule to 12-months so more people can get the vital support they need.”