In my role as the Minister for Disabled People, I am very proud to be announcing a change to the Special Rules for the Terminally Ill, which apply to five DWP benefits: Universal Credit, ESA, AA, DLA and PIP.
As it stands, if you are deemed to be Terminally Ill your application is fast-tracked. So in the case of PIP, the application typically takes 16 weeks (the award is backdated), whilst those processed under the Special Rules takes 5 days. Understandably the fast-tracked process is essential for those who sadly have such little time left.
You would normally be eligible for the Special Rules if you were given a DS1500 form, which can be issued if you were deemed to have only 6 months to live. Many health and disability charities argued the 6-month rule was wrong and we agreed, so we set up a review.
I have led this review, working with organisations including: Marie Curie, MND, Macmillan, Sue Ryder, MSA, BMA, Royal College of Nurses as we developed new proposals. I’d also like to thank local resident Heather Smith of MND Swindon & North Wiltshire, whose help, support and insight has been crucial.
After extensive work, I am delighted that we are changing the 6 months to 12 months, matching the current definition of ‘end of life’ in the NHS. This not only broadens the scope, but delivers a consistent approach – crucial for patients and GPs so they only need to have one conversation (which as you can imagine is an awful thing to go through) rather than one for the NHS at 12 months, and one for the DWP at 6 months.
This is a major announcement and with the help of the Health & Disability charities we want to go further in the forthcoming DWP Green Paper where we will be reviewing how we can extend the principles of the Severe Conditions Criteria, wherever possible removing unnecessary assessments.
This has been a 2 year review and when I was able to share the good news with the key organisations I could see the collective relief, it is clear this really will make a difference.
Contrasting emotions with football this week. I can’t imagine many people will have missed the excitement of England v Denmark on Wednesday! The whole country was united in belief and Gareth Southgate’s team duly delivered – just! Such tight margins, though we absolutely deserved the somewhat fortunate winner in extra-time – if anyone asks it definitely was a penalty! The final will be tough, the Italians are very strong but the desire and energy in this young England team gives us a chance – come on England!
Whilst the national football dominates the news, we are still waiting for the Swindon Town ownership issues to be settled. With pre-season underway, this is a dreadful situation to be in. Both myself and Robert Buckland MP have been supporting the excellent TrustSTFC who have been keeping fans updated on developments / legal disputes. We are pressing the EFL to do what they can, this has to be resolved one way or another urgently.
Finally, congratulations to Kingsdown School for being named in the Times Educational Supplement Top Ten Secondary Schools in the country. This is a fantastic achievement, and testament to the hard work of everyone at the school.