Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff and TV and radio presenter Jeremy Vine have backed a new parliamentary inquiry report which found that the current benefits system for dying people is ‘not fit for purpose’.
The damning report from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Terminal Illness found that the current rule that you must only have six months or less to live to get fast access to benefits is ‘outdated, overly-time consuming and demeaning’, and does not make any sense.
Information uncovered during the inquiry shows that the current ‘six-month rule’ definition of terminal illness, used extensively to determine how quickly someone gets access to benefits or pensions, was invented by politicians almost 30 years ago, and has no clinical evidence to support its use.
The inquiry heard how terminally ill people and their families face financial hardship and crippling debt, due to problems accessing benefits.
One bereaved husband said: “My wife was terminally ill for over three years – we effectively lost everything we ever worked for and I am now left with debts of over £20,000.”
Paula Sherriff MP said: “The stories from those who have faced financial hardship and emotional distress due to the arbitrary ‘six-month rule’ are deeply upsetting. It is heart-breaking to read of people who have endured delays or challenges in accessing benefits – this should not be the experience of terminally ill people who have limited time left to spend with their loved ones.”