James has welcomed the news that the Government will reform the benefits system for terminally ill people, after three years of campaigning by the Motor Neurone Disease Association and Marie Curie.
In response to the Scrap 6 Months campaign led by the charities, the Government has pledged to make it easier for people with a terminal illness to get fast-track access to financial support, including making it easier for clinicians to confirm eligibility. Crucially, it has said it will reform the rule which stipulated that people must prove they have six months or less to live before receiving fast-track access to the benefits many desperately need.
Like many terminal illnesses, motor neurone disease (MND) is difficult to predict and many people diagnosed with the disease are unable to access the fast-track process for claiming benefits leaving them struggling financially at what is already an incredibly difficult time.
Under the new rules, people will now qualify for fast-track access if they are given a prognosis of up to a year.
Since he was elected, James has been approached by constituents raising concerns about the current rules and he has joined the Motor Neurone Disease All Party Group. He has met family members who have described the additional stress that the current rules involve.
In March last year James called for an end to the 6 month rule at the work and pensions questions in the House of Commons and secured a commitment that the status quo would be changed.
Speaking after the announcement he said:
“This is a very welcome move from the government which will help people suffering from terminal illnesses to get the benefits they need more quickly. This change will help remove additional stress for people nearing the end of their lives and their families. I have been pleased to support the efforts of the MND Association, Marie Curie, and people across West Norfolk and the country who have supported this campaign.”
While welcoming the commitment for change detailed in a review carried out by the Department for Work and Pensions, James is now urging the Government to implement this change as soon as possible.
Sally Light, CEO of the MND Association, said: “We would like to thank those MPs who have supported this really important campaign over the last three years. While it remains the case that giving an accurate prognosis for someone living with MND is near impossible, we believe the proposed change will mean the vast majority of people with MND will be able to access the fast-track process.”
The Department of Work and Pensions announcement can be found here