According to page 73 of the government document accompanying the Queen's Speech, the main benefits of this bill are threefold:
● Ensuring thousands more people at the end of their lives can access certain benefits earlier, without needing a face-to-face assessment or waiting period, with the majority of individuals receiving the highest rate of those benefits.
● Aligning with the NHS’s approach to end of life care, which involves clinicians thinking about their patient’s support needs, including financial support.
● Having new, easily understood criteria which support implementation by clinicians and charities who often facilitate access to this support. It also ensures consistency across the benefit and welfare systems.
The main element of the bill will be to: "Amend the definition of terminal illness in existing legislation so individuals who are considered by a clinician as having 12 months or less to live (rather than the current six months) can have fast-tracked access to important disability benefits."
But specialist insurance expert Kathryn Knowles, co-founder of Cura Financial Services, said she was doubtful about how this might work in practice.
She said: "The problem may be the same as we see in the insurance world, whereby insurers' terminal illness benefit payouts rely on a specialist consultant stating that the policyholder definitely will die within a specific timeframe.
"But we have found medical professionals are often reluctant to say this without a caveat such as 'may' or 'might'.
"It is an incredibly negative thing to say to someone - that they will definitely die within 12 months - and specialists tend to caveat their prognosis.
"Therefore, because of the way in which medical professionals define the 'statistical likelihood' of a person's death, I am doubtful this change will result in more people getting disability payouts."