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Wednesday, 29 November 2017

MP brands Universal Credit self-certification rules for terminally ill 'cruel and heartless'

Written by Jon Vale

Terminally ill people should stop being forced to "self-certify" they have only months to live in order to claim Universal Credit, an SNP MP will tell the Commons.

Drew Hendry is set to use an adjournment debate to criticise the "heartless new requirement" for Universal Credit claimants, even if they do not want doctors to tell them the full scale of their condition.

He will also highlight the wait that terminally ill people have to go through before claims are paid, adding that many die before they receive any money.

Mr Hendry's Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency has piloted the flagship welfare reform for more than four years.

Speaking ahead of the debate on Wednesday, Mr Hendry (pictured) said he had joined agencies, charities and the local council in warning the Government about "systemic failings" in Universal Credit.

"We thought they would listen and adjust it as it progressed, but the years of suggestions to improve it, meetings with ministers, joint letters, debates, demands, even pleading, have fallen on deaf ears," he said.

"This week, at last, we have seen the first admissions that Universal Credit is broken with the small concessions the Chancellor has made.

"He needs to go much further though, and halt and fix the shambles and heartache that is about to be imposed on hundreds of thousands more people if the roll out was to continue.

"My debate will focus on the cruellest of conditions, those with terminal illness, many of whom die before the claims are paid and who - as a heartless new requirement - have to 'self-certify' that they only have months to live, even if they didn't wish the doctors to tell them of the nature of their fate."

Mr Hendry is expected to tell MPs about a recent summit in his constituency on Universal Credit, which he says included "heart breaking" stories of people attempting to claim and left everyone in the room feeling "emotionally exhausted".

He said it is "a cruel and unnecessary condition of Universal Credit" that cancer patients have to wait for their entitlements, while the self-certification process is a "thoughtless" way of removing people's right to decide what they know about their condition.

Mr Hendry will call for an end to the wait for cancer patients to receive their claims, and the removal of the self-certification requirements.

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