A cancer diagnosis can be “financially crippling” and the government should recognise this in their new benefits reform, a leading cancer charity has said.
Yesterday, to publicise a speech announcing plans to change the way sickness benefits are allocated, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith told the BBC that he wanted to start “a conversation” about the next phase of welfare reform.
He also advocated that the fitness to work tests for Employment Support Allowance be made more personalised and that if someone is able to work even a few hours they are helped to do so.
Responding to the speech Dr Fran Woodard, Director of Policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Any changes to the benefits system must properly recognise the support that people need when they are ill. A cancer diagnosis can often be financially crippling and hit someone when they are at their most vulnerable, many will face additional costs or have to give up work to undergo gruelling cancer treatment.”
She added that cancer patients should not be forced to return to work before they are able, and that they have the support in place to do so.
They also urged government to rethink the reduction in payments for those in the Work-Related Activity Group, which was announced in the Emergency Budget.
Woodard said: “Cutting this could leave thousands of people with cancer without a vital financial lifeline at a time when they need it most.
“The government must now clarify how it will ensure any proposed changes to the benefits system will not negatively impact people with cancer,” she recommended.