BENEFIT rules for terminally-ill people across the UK are to be reviewed and could follow the Scottish Government’s lead following a campaign led by a Scots MP.

Drew Hendry, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Terminal Illness, launched an inquiry into current Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) rules that mean benefits are only fast-tracked if a terminally-ill claimant has six months or less to live – the so-called “six-month rule”.

The report found the system was “outdated, arbitrary and not based on clinical reality” and left terminally-ill people facing “far reaching financial hardship and crippling debt”. Information uncovered during the probe showed the six-month rule, brought in three decades ago and used to determine how quickly someone gets access to benefits, was devised by politicians and has no clinical evidence to support its use.

The Scottish Government will remove the six months condition for Personal Independence Payments and use doctors and clinicians to assess whether or not someone is terminally ill.

Power to make these changes to Universal Credit rules remains reserved to Westminster.

“This inquiry reveals that the Tories’ callous ‘six-month or less’ policy leaves terminally-ill people facing devastating and far reaching financial hardship and crippling debt because of a ‘made-up policy fudge’ invented three decades ago – the Tories must scrap this rule immediately,” said Hendry. “The current rules seriously restrict access to vital financial support for many terminally-ill people, whose condition will only deteriorate, but who may live for longer than six months.

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“Terminally-ill people and their families across Scotland and the rest of the UK are being failed miserably by this Tory government. It is incumbent on us to do everything we can to ensure that the time they have left is lived with dignity.”

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd yesterday confirmed that she had asked the DWP to set up an “honest and in depth evaluation” of how end-of-life claimants are supported by the benefits system.

The charity Marie Curie is the secretariat of the APPG and welcomed the review.

However, its chief executive, Matthew Reed, said: “The DWP statement does not make it clear that you can only have your benefit fast-tracked if you have six months or less to live.”

He said the solution to delivering best practice was simple: “It is one that the Scottish Government has already taken on board in a new benefits law – that fast, easy access to benefits should be available to everyone a clinician says is terminally ill.

“People should not have to wait until a clinician thinks they only have six months left to live.

“The review must be focussed and quick and the Government in turn must act at pace when the review is concluded. Time is crucial for dying people.

“Every day 10 people die while waiting for the benefits they need.”