SNP MP Drew Hendry has said the UK government is wilfully failing terminally ill people. His comments follow a letter from a Department of Work and Pensions Minister (see below) who denied that terminally ill people are adversely impacted by Universal Credit (UC).
Drew Hendry MP has raised the plight of terminally ill claimants several times in Parliament, and twice at Prime Minister’s Questions. He told the Prime Minster that terminally ill claimants in his constituency are dying before getting their universal credit sorted out.
Drew Hendry MP said: “It really is an outrage that the Tories continue to ignore the systematic failings of their UC plans. People are dying waiting for their claims. Many others are being robbed of peace and dignity in their final weeks because of a failing system.
“Despite clear evidence to the contrary, the minister claims that the system is working for the terminally ill. His claims speak volumes – it is nothing short of wilful neglect by this Government. The Tories are failing the terminally ill.
“Changes around implicit consent now mean that a terminally ill person has to self-certify they are terminally ill – the Government has cruelly stripped them of their right not to know that information.
“They then have to go further and leave a message on their UC journal detailing that they consent to a named person from a named organisation to call on their behalf to discuss a specific issue. Yet again having to ‘self-certify’ as terminally ill.
“Nothing can possibly justify putting anyone through this – especially when someone else can do it on their behalf. To make matters worse, the government didn’t have to create this barrier, when under ESA the adviser could undertake all of this on their behalf.
“Claims by the Minister that there is formal process have proved useless. Advisors at the CAB Macmillan Partnership tell me there is no evidence that there is a formal process between UC and PIP claims – instead it is a lottery.
“I’m challenging the UK Government to finally sort this disgraceful mess out, to remove the conditions, and clarify to his own Department how terminally ill people can avoid this heart-breaking situation.
“The minister must now provide written guidance on how a DS1500 case is processed and must now set out clearly whether or not he will bring to an end the heartless requirement for people across the UK, who do not want to know they are dying to ‘self-certify’ that they only have months to live on Universal credit.”
Letter from DWP Minister for Employment, Damian Hinds MP:
As you may know, your query to the prime Minister during Prime Minister’s Questions on 6 December about Universal Credit has been forwarded to this Department. I am replying as the responsible Minister.
I would like to begin by saying that our approach is, and always has been, that we must ensure that terminally ill claimants are treated sensitively and with empathy at all times.
For Universal Credit claimants who have a terminal illness, the DS1500 form is how they supply the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) with evidence of their condition.
As you may be aware, a GP or healthcare professional will issue the DS1500 form to either the claimant or their representative. This form can then be provided to the Department as evidence of the claimant’s condition, either for a new claim or for an existing claim.
We check our systems as a matter of course to see whether we already hold a DS1500 submitted for another claim. This is the same process under Employment and Support Allowance, and if a DS1599 is already held, we reuse it for the Universal Credit claim.
Receipt of this information ensures that the claimant receives immediate access to DWP support, including an additional £318.78 per month in their Universal Credit entitlement, payable from day one of their claim.
I can also address your concerns about third parties being able to apply for Universal Credit on behalf of a terminally ill claimant and regarding implicit consent. We do not need to change the consent rules in Universal Credit to support these claimants, as we can already accept information directly from claimant representatives, such as form claimant appointees and third party organisation representing the claimant.
In addition, we make all of our Work Coaches and relevant staff aware during their training that claimants may not know about their prognosis or condition. Therefore, they are aware that they should not record or refer to the nature or detail of the illness on the full service journal or in discussions, unless requested by the claimant.
If I can be of further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.
Damian Hinds MP
Minister for Employment