Special rules for terminal illness and Access to Welfare

Thank you for contacting me about the special rules for terminal illness (SRTI) and the Access to Welfare (Terminal Illness Definition) Bill.

It is crucial that people who have a terminal illness should receive support when they need it and with the minimum of stress. That is why I support a benefits system which reduces stress and anxiety for people with terminal illnesses.

As you will know, the rules for terminal illness were put in place to provide important support to people who have only a short time to live. This is achieved through guaranteed entitlement to certain disability benefits, with claims dealt with in a fast and sensitive way, and without the need for a face-to-face assessment. Under most circumstances, this system works well. It is reassuring, for example, that around two thirds of those receiving PIP who are terminally ill have been receiving benefit for six months or more.

However, I am very much aware of the fact that the system excludes from fast-track access those with unpredictable terminal illnesses like motor neurone disease (MND), and I believe that we do need to consider how best to deal with this real problem. I hope that the Government will look carefully at the Bill put forward by the MND Association.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me