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Highland MP Drew Hendry renews calls for fast-tracked benefits for the terminally ill

By Tom Ramage

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Rooting for the terminally ill: Drew Hendry MP
Rooting for the terminally ill: Drew Hendry MP

The SNP has renewed calls on the UK government to urgently change DWP rules to allow terminally ill people to get benefits fast-tracked – following a bid to change the law.

Under current rules, benefits are only fast-tracked if a terminally ill person has a diagnosis of six months or less to live.

A bill to change this law was brought before Parliament yesterday (Wednesday), co-sponsored by campaigning Badenoch MP Drew Hendry.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Terminal Illness – chaired by Mr Hendry (SNP) - published a report on the plight of terminally ill people trying to access welfare support just over a year ago.

It found that those affected face financial hardship and crippling debt due to a policy implemented three decades ago.

Mr Hendry has criticised the UK government for its “deafening silence” since the publication of the report.

In Scotland, the SNP Government has said it will ensure anyone diagnosed with a terminal illness gets fast access to disability benefits when they are introduced.

Mr Hendry said: “I have been asking the Tory government to take action on the UK benefits system for terminally ill people for a long time – the punitive ‘six month or less’ policy urgently needs to be scrapped and, if passed, that is exactly what this bill will do.

“A year ago, the APPG on Terminal Illness’s inquiry report revealed that the ‘six month rule’ leaves terminally ill people facing devastating and far reaching financial hardship and crippling debt because of a policy brought in three decades ago – it is outdated and unwarranted.

“The UK government promised a review of the policy a year ago following the report - instead we have been met with a deafening silence from the UK government.

"I am urging MPs from all parties to get behind this bill that will scrap a policy that has been failing terminally ill people and their families for years.”

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