Scrap 6 Months – One year on
A year since the announcement of a review into the benefits system, more than 2,000 have died from MND, many struggling to access the benefits they desperately need. The review, announced in response to the MND Association’s Scrap 6 Months campaign, has not yet been published. And, indeed, little progress has been made despite the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) committing to a ‘fresh and honest’ review of the benefits system ‘to make life easier for people who are terminally ill’.
Under the current benefits system, only people who are ‘reasonably expected to die within six months’ are eligible to apply for benefits through the Special Rules for Terminal Illness (SRTI) fast-track system. This unfairly excludes many of those living with unpredictable terminal illnesses like MND. Our Scrap 6 Months campaign, in partnership with the charity Marie Curie, is calling on the Government to change the law to scrap the 6 months rule and replace it with the judgement of a clinician so that all terminally ill people can access benefits quickly and sensitively.
The Association’s Head of Policy and Campaigns Susie Rabin said,
“The long-awaited DWP review is a crucial step towards making the system work better for all people with MND. We understand that in recent months, the government’s highest priority, quite rightly, has been responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, but we need to ensure urgent action is taken now to deliver the review. No more terminally ill people should die battling the system and struggling to access the financial support they and their families desperately need.”
We are continuing to put pressure on the Government, following news in Northern Ireland, where a judge deemed that the different treatment of terminally ill people who do not meet the six-month life expectancy criterion is discriminatory. The judge described it as “manifestly without reasonable foundation” in a case brought by Lorraine Cox who is living with MND. Lorraine faced barriers and delays to accessing benefits despite being terminally ill.
Sally Light, Chief Executive of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, said:
“Scotland has already scrapped the six month rule and a landmark legal case just this week has taken Northern Ireland a step closer to the same move. There must be equality and fairness across the UK – a two-tier system will not work and must not be imposed on people who desperately need support at the most difficult of times.”
We are very disappointed that we are yet to hear back from the DWP on the outcome of the review. We are taking action to put pressure on the Government to publish the outcome of the review quickly and ensure the findings include our key asks:
- scrap the 6-month rule and replace it with the judgement of a clinical specialist
- scrap the 3-year award time limit and replace it with a lifetime award.
Together we can ensure the outcomes of this review support people living with MND and other terminal illnesses to access benefits in a timely and dignified manner.