THE fight to secure a fairer benefits system for people with terminal illness continued when Ian Lucas MP welcomed one of his Wrexham constituents to the Houses of Parliament.

Mr Lucas and Vincent Ryan, a local volunteer for the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA), met officials from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) on Monday, February 25.

The meeting was arranged following a Prime Minster’s Question asked by Mr Lucas in December. The Wrexham MP asked for the opportunity to discuss changes to the law which – at present – makes it difficult for people with unpredictable terminal illnesses such as motor neurone disease (MND) to gain quick and easy access to the benefits they need.

Theresa May later wrote to Mr Lucas thanking him for raising the issue and arranged for DWP officials to meet him and Mr Ryan

Currently, a terminally ill patient can only claim to be fast-tracked through the benefits system if they are expected to die within six months. Those with illnesses like Motor Neurone Disease (MND), where life expectancy is harder to determine and can go beyond six months, must go through the normal process. Many of them die before their claims are settled.

Mr Lucas and Mr Ryan are supporters of the MNDA’s ‘scrap6months’ campaign, which calls for the six-month time limit to be removed for England and Wales, as it has been in Scotland. Patients would instead be seen by a health professional who would assess their condition.

Mr Lucas, who is also is due to meet DWP minister Sarah Newton to discuss the campaign, said of Monday’s meeting: “It was good to welcome Vincent to Parliament and put our concerns directly to officials.

“People with terminal illnesses such as MND should be able to access the financial support they are entitled to quickly and with dignity. I will continue to press for changes to this shameful system.”

Vincent added: "We want to support people living with MND, their families and carers. They need urgent and quick access to welfare benefits to meet increasing costs. We are calling on the UK Government to relax the administrative burden and stress involved in benefit applications and to prevent delay. The need is obvious without demanding a certificate to say death is expected within six months - which is a cruel added requirement."

Data published by the DWP in January showed that, between 2013 and 2018, 17,000 people died waiting for their benefit claim to be determined.

The scrap6months campaign – which also has the backing of Marie Curie and a cross-party group of more than 100 MPs – proposes changing the definition of a terminal illness so that the six-month restriction is replaced by the judgement of a clinician. A private members’ bill proposing such a change is due for its second reading in Parliament in mid-March.