Accelerated access to benefits extended to a greater number of people at the end of life

  • From today (Monday 4 April 2022), accelerated access to Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance will be extended to more people in their last year of life.
  • The changes will extend eligibility for this end-of-life support from six to 12 months.

The changes mean that people thought to be in their last year of life will be able to receive life-saving support under ‘special rules’, six months earlier than before.

This applies to people on Universal Credit and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).

Those who are eligible will not be subject to an in-person assessment and, in the majority of cases, they will receive the highest benefit rate.

Disability, Health and Labor Minister Chloe Smith MP said:

Helping more people in their last year of life gain faster access to vital financial support is the right thing to do.

I hope that by extending this support, it will alleviate the financial concerns of people at the end of life and their families in their most difficult times.

National Clinical Director of End-of-Life Care at NHS England, Professor Bee Wee, said:

I am really happy to see this change which will allow earlier and faster access to financial support for people who may be in their last year of life.

This extra support is vitally important for many people, and their loved ones, during this difficult time.

Marie Curie chief executive Matthew Reed said:

We are thrilled to see this important change take effect today for Universal Credit and ESA applicants, after years of campaigning.

This will help ensure that more dying people can focus on making the most of the limited time they have left, rather than worrying about their finances.

Marie Curie looks forward to continuing to work with the Department for Work and Pensions to communicate this important change and ensure that all those now eligible receive the support they need quickly and efficiently.

CEO of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, Sally Light said:

I am happy that from today long-fought changes to the special rules for terminal illnesses will come into force 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 quickly and sensitively access the support they need through these benefits.

A person reapplying for Universal Credit under the Special End of Life (SREL) rules could receive an extra £354.28 a month for having limited capacity for work and work-related activity from day one of his request.

If eligible for New Style ESA, a re-applicant could receive the highest benefit rate of £117.60 per week from day one of their application to support them in the final months of their life .

Clinicians still have discretion under the updated rules and will be supported by a realistic and simple definition, which aligns with current NHS practice.

The changes to the SREL will be extended to the Personal Autonomy Payment, Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance as soon as parliamentary time permits.

Further information

  • The special rules for end of life were previously called special rules for terminal illnesses (SRTI).

Media inquiries for this press release – 0115 965 8781

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