Universal Credit: Terminal Illnesses

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 30th November 2017.

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Photo of Tonia Antoniazzi Tonia Antoniazzi Labour, Gower

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussion he has had with (a) Cabinet colleagues and (b) others on reinstating implicit consent for terminally ill claimants of universal credit; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Tonia Antoniazzi Tonia Antoniazzi Labour, Gower

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what recent discussion he has had with (a) Cabinet colleagues and (b) other stakeholders on the proof of illness required from universal credit claimants; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Tonia Antoniazzi Tonia Antoniazzi Labour, Gower

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions he has had with (a) Cabinet colleagues and (b) other stakeholders on the steps terminally ill claimants take to claim universal credit; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Tonia Antoniazzi Tonia Antoniazzi Labour, Gower

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pension, what discussions he has had with (a) Cabinet colleagues and (b) other stakeholders on benefits appropriate to universal credit claimants who are unable to return to work owing to ill health or terminal diagnosis; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Tonia Antoniazzi Tonia Antoniazzi Labour, Gower

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues and others had about the appropriateness of at-home visits to terminally ill universal credit claimants; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

We are committed to ensuring that terminally ill patients are treated with the utmost sensitivity and care and receive the support they need to make a claim to Universal Credit. This can include a home visit to support a claimant with making their initial claim and completing any other administrative tasks required to ensure that they receive the correct payment. As we continue to deliver the full Universal Credit service, with its expanded claimant base, we are continuing to review and further develop the customer journey for claimants with complex needs, including how we support terminally ill claimants to engage in the process.

We are aware of concerns raised about the process of notifying DWP about a claimant’s terminal illness. However, we do not need to change the consent rules in Universal Credit to support these claimants. We can already accept information directly from claimant representatives, such as claimant appointees and third party organisations representing the claimant as well as details supplied to DWP Universal Credit partnership managers or external engagement officials. However, we are also aware that there are instances where this is not happening as intended in some limited circumstances and we are working to confirm that the guidance and processes are in place to ensure that it does.

The Department and the Universal Credit Programme have regular meetings with key stakeholders, including MacMillan, Maggie’s Centres and Mind, to understand how our policies are working and discuss potential areas for improvement. The design of Universal Credit for terminally ill claimants is based on the well tested processes that have been in place in Employment and Support Allowance as have the proof of illness requirements. We continue to keep these under review to ensure that they work as effectively as possible.

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