Support for the Terminally Ill

Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons on 29th June 2020.

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Photo of Chris Evans Chris Evans Labour/Co-operative, Islwyn

When she plans to publish the findings of the Government’s review announced in July 2019 of how the welfare system supports people who are terminally ill.

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont Conservative, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

When she plans to publish the findings of the Government’s review announced in July 2019 of how the welfare system supports people who are terminally ill.

Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

The evaluation remains a priority for the Department. We have made good progress and expect to be able to provide an update on the outcome of the evaluation shortly.

Photo of Chris Evans Chris Evans Labour/Co-operative, Islwyn

Motor neurone disease is an utterly wicked, terrible disease. Those who have it are locked in and see their bodies waste away, while their families watch their loved ones slowly slide away. However, only 50% of those people diagnosed with motor neurone disease can claim under the personal independence payment special rules—about which the Minister knows—because of the six-month life expectancy rule; the others have to go through the standard procedures, which can lead to delays. The Department launched a terminal illness review more than a year ago. The Minister has it in his gift to change the rules and ensure that all people with motor neurone disease are allowed to claim under the PIP special rules. On behalf of all those families who are suffering—it is only a small number—I ask him: will he make that change today?

Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

I thank the hon. Member for setting out powerfully the torment and challenges that MND sufferers face; he has been a champion of their cause in Parliament. I am grateful for the part that the Motor Neurone Disease Association, Hospice UK, Macmillan, Marie Curie, Sue Ryder, the national nurse consultant group and others have played in the evaluation. The Secretary of State and I are passionate about making changes: it will not be the status quo. Covid-19 caused a delay to the final part of the consultation with the medical professionals, but we will bring forward a change shortly.

Photo of John Lamont John Lamont Conservative, Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk

I know that the Minister will be aware that the benefits awarded under the special rules for terminal illness last for three years, but on behalf of my constituent Doddie Weir, the former Scotland rugby player, who has been campaigning on the issue, will my hon. Friend consider scrapping the three-year limit on awards under the special rules to avoid distressing situations for those suffering with MND and other terminal illnesses?

Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this. I know that he has campaigned hard on the matter. We are reviewing all areas. The key three themes are: the six months and not having the status quo; improving consistency; and raising awareness to ensure that all those who will benefit from the special rules know what is available.