For anyone, finding out that you are nearing the end of your life is a profound challenge and a hugely difficult moment. I am sure all of us would hope to find vital support available to help us and our loved ones through such a difficult time.
Crucially, the Government is committed to supporting people nearing the end of their lives. Last month, we changed the rules so that more people can access fast-tracked financial support from the benefits system. This means people who are likely to have 12 months or less to live can claim Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance, via a simplified and fast-tracked process known as the ‘Special Rules’.
These changes aim to support individuals through the most challenging of times, so they have more financial reassurance, allowing them to focus on what matters most to them, such as spending their valuable time left with family and friends.
Dying Matters Awareness Week provides a welcome focus to open the conversation about death, dying and grief. This year, Dying Matters wants that conversation to start at work, to ensure those who are affected by death or dying get the support that they need in the workplace. I heartily support this objective and believe that financial support from the benefits system can play a vital role in supporting individuals to navigate their work situation at such a challenging time of so many competing anxieties, worries and pressures.
Indeed, I am holding a drop-in event for parliamentarians on Wednesday 10 May to talk about, and extend awareness of, the ‘Special Rules,’ and to discuss other issues that may affect individuals nearing the end of life, whether they are able to work or not.
Through this event, and the many others like it happening across the country, I hope we can collectively feel more empowered to have compassionate conversations in our own communities. By talking honestly and openly about the issues that people experience when faced with death, we will be better placed as a society to best support those who need it.
As ever, I would like to thank Hospice UK for the chance to speak about this support and for their ongoing powerful advocacy.
Tom Pursglove MP is Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work at the Department for Work and Pensions.