MORE than 240 terminally ill people in Bury were hit by a benefits rule that critics call “cruel and arbitrary” over the last three years.

Figures show since 2018, that 242 people in the borough applied for Personal Independence Payments under special rules that supposedly fast track the process for people whose doctors have given them six months or less to live.

But campaigners have said the process for doing so is complicated, and the six month rule is overly harsh.

Michelle Cardno, founder of Tottington based disability rights and advisory service Fightback4Justice, said one of their cases involved a man who had chronic kidney failure but was awarded no points under the system.

She added: "While he was waiting for an appeal he died of a heart attack attributed to the kidney failure. We’ve had seven or eight clients who have died waiting for appeals.

“It just shows the system is not working, there’s no checks and balances at all, they assessors do not know who has appealed so someone could be writing damningly wrong assessments over and over again and they wouldn’t know.”

Research carried out by the BBC Shared Data Unit shows around 23,000 people across the country apply to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) for support after being diagnosed with a terminal illness every year.

A spokesman for Marie Curie, the charity which has campaigned to scrap the six month rule, said: "This appears to be a clear example of the realities faced by many people with a terminal illness and a system that works against them, not for them."

The official said the All Party Parliamentary Group on Terminal Illness had described the rule, which the government is planning to change as "cruel and arbitrary.”

A DWP spokesman said: “Terminal illness is devastating, and our priority is dealing with people’s claims quickly and compassionately.

“Those nearing the end of their lives can get fast-track access to the benefits system, with the majority receiving the highest possible award and paid within three days of making a claim.

“We will be extending the current six month end of life rule to 12 months so more people can get the vital support they need.”