Benefits ‘cuts’ will hit cancer patients hard, say advisors


Until somebody becomes sick, they won’t understand what it’s like

Published on Tuesday 21 February 2012 12:00

CANCER patients face a bleak future in the face of changes being made to the benefits system, specialist welfare advisors in Leamington are warning.

Macmillan Cancer Support funds a Welfare Rights and Benefits Service at the Citizens Advice Bureau in Hamilton Terrace, where case workers Karen Jones and Jenny Harding aim to help cancer patients, their carers and those in palliative care deal with issues they may have to do with accessing funds, housing, dealing with employers and other welfare issues.

Ms Jones said: “I am very concerned. There is no doubt that there needs to be reform in terms of accessing the service as it’s terribly complicated. But the media are all now full of the idea of ‘benefit scroungers’, which has made people feel reluctant to claim anything and feel like the need to justify themselves.

“We have people who have been diagnosed as terminal who want to keep their jobs on because they are worried about finances.”

Ms Jones said one of the outcomes of the proposed Bill would mean cancer patients would only receive employment support allowance for one year, meaning many people will who are still very ill will be forced to go back to work – and their carers will also lose their benefit.

Ms Harding said: “Cancer can last a long time, so 12 months’ allowance if often not enough. They are often not in the right state of mind to go job-hunting.”

Ms Jones said: “Until somebody becomes sick, they won’t understand what it’s like. This Bill has been so rushed, there has not been sufficient thought put into it. The future I feel is bleak.”

She added: “The changes won’t stop people being confused and they won’t stop people from making fraudulent claims. The reform is a cover to enable the Government to make 20 per cent cuts, which will mean 20 per cent of people will lose their benefits.”

Cancer patients and their carers in south Warwickshire can make an appointment at the service by calling 457912.

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