MP Catherine backs ‘scrap 6 months’ campaign

Newcastle North MP, Catherine McKinnell, has joined forces with actors Jim Carter and Nichola McAuliffe to back the ‘scrap 6 months’ campaign that will enable more terminally ill people to access benefits more quickly and easily, regardless of the condition they have.

Currently, someone is only considered terminally ill if there is a reasonable expectation of having six or less months left to live.  This outdated definition excludes people with complex and unpredictable terminal conditions from accessing the financial support they need in a timely manner, as the bureaucratic process for accessing crucial benefits can be lengthy and complex for those who need support but don’t meet the six months threshold.

The charities MND Association and Marie Curie are therefore working together to push for a change in the law that would enable more terminally ill people to get quicker access to the benefits they need to live well until they die.

The proposed change in the law – being introduced in Parliament by Catherine’s colleague Madeleine Moon MP – would allow clinicians to determine whether a person is terminally ill, instead of an arbitrary time-limit decided in years gone-by. This would mean that people with complex and unpredictable terminal illnesses, such as motor neurone disease, can apply for benefits in a way far better suited to their needs and circumstances.

Madeleine Moon MP’s Access to Welfare (Terminal Illness Definition) Bill seeks to change the current definition of terminal illness to allow terminally ill people to access benefits quicker, easier, and in a way that best suits the individual.

Catherine said:

‘Almost everyone knows someone who’s been affected by a terminal illness, and it’s crucial we ensure that anyone facing such a difficult time gets all the care and support they need, when they need it – without the added stress and worry of having to wait and fight through layers of bureaucracy.’

Speaking at a campaign event held recently in Parliament, Jim Carter and Nichola McAuliffe said:

‘We’re delighted to be here with Catherine to support the MND Association and Marie Curie ‘scrap 6 months’ campaign. Life is tough enough without spending the limited time people have left worrying about getting the support they need.’

Susie Rabin, Head of Policy and Campaigns at the MND Association, said:

‘We are delighted to have Catherine’s support for this vital campaign. People coping with the impact of a terminal illness must not be forced to jump through inappropriate bureaucratic hoops in order to access the financial support they urgently need. We call on the Government to reform the outdated definition of a terminal illness to ensure that everyone living with a devastating condition such as MND can benefit from the Special Rules for Terminal Illness fast-track within the benefits system.’

Scott Sinclair, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Marie Curie, said:

‘Having the support of Catherine and Jim and Nichola makes a huge difference to the campaign. 

‘The current welfare system for terminally ill people is unfair and outdated, and results in cruel and distressing treatment for people who are at the end of their lives. Nobody with a terminal illness should have to face multiple assessments and back-to-work interviews when the stark fact is that they are dying and have limited time left.’

Marie Curie is there for everyone affected by a terminal illness, including those with cancer, dementia, heart or lung disease, and neurological conditions like motor neurone disease.

People living with a terminal illness or caring for someone can call the Marie Curie Support Line on 0800 090 2309 for support, or go to www.mariecurie.org.uk/help