Work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd has ordered her department to undertake an “honest and in-depth” look at how the benefits system supports people who are terminally ill and those suffering from severe medical conditions.
The secretary of state said the review had been inspired in part by her own family experience, however many charities have also campaigned for reform of the current system’s “special rules” for people with terminal illnesses, which include fast-tracking of payments and special rates.
Rudd said that the review would “look again” at the Department for Work and Pensions requirements that the current system placed on those living with the most severe or progressive conditions to better understand how well the special rules processes currently worked.
The review’s two other core areas of work include taking first-hand evidence from claimants and charities, and examining the levels of support offered by other countries and the processes used.
Rudd said the charities Macmillan and Hospice UK would be among the organisations providing insight to the exercise, alongside senior medical input from the NHS.
“Having a life limiting-illness or severe condition can cause unimaginable suffering for the patient and for their loved ones,” she said.
“Having seen it in my own family, I know that the last thing you need is additional financial pressures or unnecessary assessments.
“I am beginning work on a fresh and honest evaluation of our benefits system so that I can be sure that people who are nearing the end of their life are getting the best possible support.
“I hope that this comprehensive evaluation of how we treat those with severe conditions and terminal illnesses will help ensure these vulnerable people get the support they need from our benefits system.
“I want people to have confidence in what we do at the DWP, ensuring no one is suffering unnecessary hardship at this especially difficult time.”