The government has introduced new legislation to enable quicker access to certain benefits for some people. This means financial support will be put into place quicker for those nearing the end of their life.
From 4 April 2022, fast-tracked access to Universal Credit and new style Employment and Support Allowance has been extended to more people in the final year of their life. This increases eligibility for end-of-life support from 6 to twelve months and those eligible will not be required to undertake a face-to-face assessment.
A person who makes a new claim for Universal Credit under the Special Rules for End of Life (SREL) could receive an additional £354.28 per month (2022/23) for having limited capability for work and work-related activity from day one of their claim, rather than month 4.
If eligible for New Style Employment and Support Allowance, a person making a new claim could receive the highest rate of benefit of £117.60 per week from day one of their claim to support them in the last months of their life.
Confirmation from a medical professional will still be required and clinicians still have discretion under the updated rules and will be supported by a realistic and straightforward definition, which aligns with current NHS practice.
The changes to SREL will be extended to Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance as soon as Parliamentary time allows.
Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work Chloe Smith MP said:
“Helping more people in the final year of their life get faster access to vital financial support is the right thing to do.”
“I hope by extending this support it will alleviate the financial concerns of those nearing the end of their life and their families in the most challenging of times.”
The move has been welcomed by various welfare organisation.
National Clinical Director for End of Life Care at NHS England, Professor Bee Wee said:
“I am really pleased to see this change which will enable earlier and faster access to financial support for people who are likely to be in their last year of life.”
“This additional support is of such vital importance to many people, and those important to them, during this difficult time.”
Marie Curie chief executive, Matthew Reed said:
“We are delighted to see this important change come into force today for Universal Credit and ESA claimants, following years of campaigning.”
“This will help ensure more dying people can concentrate on making the most of the limited time they have left, rather than worrying about their finances.”
“Marie Curie look forward to continuing to work with the Department for Work and Pensions to communicate this important change and ensure everyone now eligible gets the support they need quickly and efficiently.”
CEO of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, Sally Light said:
“I am pleased that as of today long fought-for changes to the Special Rules for Terminal Illness will come into effect for Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit.”
“We now hope that more people living with complex and unpredictable terminal illnesses like motor neurone disease will be able to access the support they need via those benefits swiftly and sensitively.”