Drew Hendry MP (pictured) has welcomed an announcement by the UK Government that rules for terminally ill people are to change.
The announcement means that the current rule that someone has to have a diagnosis of six months or less to access fast-tracked support is to be replaced with a new 12-month, end of life definition.
The move will ensure that more terminally people will receive vital financial support quicker than they can do at present and at the highest rate through revised Special Rules.
Mr Hendry, who chairs a cross party group for Terminal Illness, has long campaigned for greater access to fast-track benefit applications for those with a terminal diagnosis.
The Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey MP set up a cross party group on Terminal Illness in Parliament 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 have long campaigned for a change to rules 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 current system means 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.
The changes announced by the UK Government will widen access to fast-tracked support for those with a diagnosis of 12 months or less to live.
In Scotland, the SNP government has already introduced reforms to ensure anyone diagnosed with a terminal illness can get fast access to devolved benefits.
Personal Independent Payments, Universal Credit and other benefits remain reserved to the UK Government.
Commenting, Drew Hendry said:
“After many years of campaigning for greater support for those living with a terminal illness, I am pleased that we have moved this step forward.
“Just this week the APPG on Terminal Illness heard such painful stories from people affected by the cruel six-month rule, the culture of scepticism and dehumanisation at the DWP, and the effect these experiences have on families that can last long into bereavement.
“I pay tribute to the people with terminal illness who have fought for the benefit of others in the future.
“I am very proud of the work of the APPG for Terminal Illness, which forced the UK Government to undertake this review and I pay tribute to Marie Curie, MND and all those living with a terminal illness who have campaigned tirelessly for change.
“Many of whom have shared their very personal stories with us all in the hope it may help improve the system for others.
“This victory is very much theirs.
“The announcement is a significant step forward in our campaign – now that it has finally listened to terminally ill people, the UK Government must now ensure it acts to implement the changes it has announced without delay.”