Badenoch and Strathspey MP steps up benefits campaign
Drew Hendry MP for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey has been re-elected as chair of the cross-party group of MPs at Westminster campaigning to improve access to benefits for dying people at an event in parliament.
Mr Hendry originally set up the group in 2016 after hearing about the difficulties local terminally ill people were having accessing benefits. Since then, he has worked closely with charities like Marie Curie and Motor Neurone Disease Association to launch a #Scrap6Months campaign.
They are seeking a change to the law which currently demands that a dying person must prove that they have six months or less to live in order to access benefits quickly and at a higher tier.
The strath's MP believes people should get fast track access to benefits if a doctor says they have a terminal illness.
At present, dying people may have to go through a lengthy process to access benefits, during which they must undergo assessments of their fitness to work or even prove that they are looking for work.
Receiving benefits is vital for many people at the end of their lives as they rely on financial support due to being unfit for work, or because of the increased costs associated with living with a terminal illness.
Estimating how long someone will live is difficult and the six-month rule has no clinical basis or evidence. Many healthcare professionals don’t feel comfortable saying someone has six months left to live.
Mr Hendry said: “In a caring, compassionate society dying people should receive all the support available to live with dignity and to make the most of the time they have left. No one who is at the end of their life should have to spend time jumping through hoops or worrying how to make ends meet.”
“In the report launched by the APPG for Terminal illness last July, we found that the current system to access benefits if you are dying is outdated, arbitrary and not based on clinical reality. We’re determined to ensure that terminally ill people get fair access to the benefits system and that they are treated with dignity and respect.
“The Scottish Government has already provided the answer by confirming they will do away with the 6-month rule when it takes over Personal Independence Payments – instead, opting to rely on clinical advice.
“The UK Tory government must follow suit because right now they are miserably failing terminally ill people and their families across Scotland and the rest of the UK. These people need more than warm words from the UK Government – they need immediate action to scrap the punitive policy.”