media case studies wanted: DLA and ESA changes

As part of our policy and campaigning work on the proposed changes to the welfare and benefits system, we, along with a number of other cancer charities, are writing a letter to Ian Duncan Smith (Secretary of State for Work and Pensions), expressing our concerns about the impact of the changes on cancer patients. The issues we are highlighting in the letter are:

• Changes that say that people with cancer will have to wait six months before they can claim the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which will replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA). We know that even the existing three month wait for DLA is extremely problematic for people with cancer.

• ESA claimants (in the work-related group, NOT the support group who are not expected to look for work, which includes people with secondary breast cancer) will only receive the benefit for one year, without being means tested. We think this will hit cancer patients particularly hard. We are worried that this proposal, rather than creating an incentive to work, will lead to many cancer patients losing their ESA simply because they have not recovered quickly enough.

The Department of Work and Pension’s statistics which show that 75% of cancer patients who could be affected by this policy still need ESA after one year. This is due to the length of time people with cancer experience the debilitating effects of the disease/treatment and the multiple barriers they face in getting back to work. These can include discrimination or employers unwilling to make reasonable adjustments, such as offering flexible working hours or a phased return.

We plan to send the letter to Ian Duncan-Smith and to national newspapers for publication in their letters pages. This may mean that the media take an interest in the issues we are raising so we are looking for volunteers who may be interested in sharing their experiences of DLA and the ESA to show how breast cancer patients will be affected negatively by the proposals. For example:

• If you currently receive DLA and had to wait 3 months to claim it, how would you have coped if you’d have had to wait for 6 months before claiming?
• If you currently receive work support ESA, how will you be affected if this automatically ends after a year?

If you would be comfortable talking about the impact these changes will have on you, please get in touch with <script type=“text/javascript”>eval(unescape(‘%64%6f%63%75%6d%65%6e%74%2e%77%72%69%74%65%28%27%3c%61%20%68%72%65%66%3d%22%6d%61%69%6c%74%6f%3a%6c%61%75%72%61%2e%67%72%6f%73%73%61%72%74%40%62%72%65%61%73%74%63%61%6e%63%65%72%63%61%72%65%2e%6f%72%67%2e%75%6b%22%3e%6c%61%75%72%61%2e%67%72%6f%73%73%61%72%74%40%62%72%65%61%73%74%63%61%6e%63%65%72%63%61%72%65%2e%6f%72%67%2e%75%6b%3c%2f%61%3e%27%29%3b’))</script>

Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that this story will result in media coverage or that we will be able to use your comments if you contact us.

I have had my incapacity benefit stopped. With the help from the Macmillan team and the CAB I will be appealing.
None of my operations and treatments have been straight forward and I’ve been left struggling in constant pain. I tried returning to work in November, I used to be a registered nurse but thought I’d try a lighter role as a classroom assistant. It was too much too soon and I couldn’t cope, I had a breakdown which forced me to admit I need help. I then was hauled in by Atos for this medical, they deem me fit for work despite my complications, physically and psychologically. And they know I’m due for reconstruction soon, another week in hospital with 6 months recovery time. What employer in their right mind would take me on once they read the medical questionaire and see I’ll be needing all this time off?
The whole thing is adding to the stress already there from trying to live a normal life after diagnosis. My breast care nurse told me my life would never be the same again-she’s right but I’m still trying to work out if that was a back handed cheery comment!
It’s a complete farce, I’m hearing about more and more people this is happening to. I’ve worked and paid my taxes and national insurance for 38 years isn’t time I should get a little something back without having to fight for it?

Hello

I would be more than happy to talk to anyone who will listen about the difficulties I have had with the benefits system and the very negative impact it has had on my recovery. I did apply for DLA following my bilateral mastectomy last year but was refused this. I also applied for ESA last September following the end of my SSP. I received this but was deemed ‘capable of work’ in December and have now had to appeal.

I have tried to reply to the email link here but am unable to do so, but if you would like to contact me via this site, please to so.

Regards, Samm

Thanks both. I’ll pass your comments on to our press team.

The letter Kiran referred to was published in national newspapers on 9 March. You can read it here:
guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/mar/09/welfare-reform-bill-cancer

And you can read one of the resulting articles here: guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/mar/09/welfare-bill-cancer-patients