Hundreds in Northumberland die 'in poverty'

Matthew Reed, chief executive of Marie Curie.Matthew Reed, chief executive of Marie Curie.
Matthew Reed, chief executive of Marie Curie.
Hundreds of people in Northumberland die “in poverty” every year, according to a leading end-of-life charity.

Marie Curie says it is "shocking" that more than 90,000 people nationally pass away while living in poverty annually and called for greater support with energy costs to all terminally ill people, regardless of their age, and the state pension to be given to dying people of working age so they do not miss out.

The estimates suggest that 536 people in Northumberland died in 2019 – the latest year for which data is available – having experienced poverty in the last year of their life – around 15% of the total number of deaths in the area.

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Of the deaths in the area, 397 are estimated to be pensioners (13% of the group), and 139 working age (28%).

The national figure is made up of 68,000 pensioners and 25,000 working-age people, says the study, carried out by Loughborough University.

Marie Curie chief executive Matthew Reed said: “It cannot be right that terminally-ill people of working age miss out on their desperately-needed state pension simply because they are not 'old enough' when they die.

"No-one wants to imagine spending the last months of their life shivering in a cold home, struggling to feed themselves, their children, and burdened with the anxiety of falling into debt.

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"But for 90,000 people a year that is their reality. Simply put, that is shocking."

The Department of Work and Pensions said those nearing the end of their lives can get fast-track access to a range of benefits without needing a face-to-face assessment or waiting period.