The Tories have now come up with something called "Time Limited ESA" you can read all about this here and here. Basically this is something they have dreamt up to take even more benefits away from disabled people because they obviously believe that disabled people are not suffering enough already. Sue Marsh as always makes a compelling case, well written and clearly explained, take a few minutes to read what our "wonderful" Tory government are doing to our most vulnerable people, remembering that we are all just one illness or one accident away from joining the ranks of disabled people. Remember also that this government are doing this to people in your name, while they allow the richest 1% to prosper and go back on their promise to penalise greedy banker's bonuses, bankers, the very people who caused the mess in this country and across the world are all enjoying tax cuts.
Now you would think that the Tories (aided by their new found friends the Liberal Democrats) could not possibly stoop any lower, but hold on, they can, and it seems they find this easy. The Tories latest line of attack is to aim at those people suffering from cancer. If you read what the Tories are trying to do you would be forgiven for wondering just what it is the British Conservatives have against those people suffering from this devastating illness, they seem to be doing everything they possibly can to make their lives even more distressing and hard to cope with, it is pretty unforgivable and I just cannot believe that the Tories will find much support for attacking people in this way.
ESA affects cancer patients too!
The government began informing sick and disabled people that their benefit may stop even BEFORE the bill has been passed in parliament.
19 September 2011
From this week, thousands of letters will begin to land on the doorsteps of those who are too unwell to work - including cancer patients and those with severe mental health problems. This letter will inform them that their vital out-of-work benefit, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), may be stopped in April 2012 because of changes in the Welfare Reform Bill – despite the fact that the Bill is still being debated in Parliament. The Government will spend £2.7m on sending the letters from a contingency fund.
Under current proposals in the Welfare Reform Bill, many cancer patients and people with severe and complex mental health problems will have their ESA removed after one year irrespective of whether they are well enough to return to work. Macmillan Cancer Support estimates 7,000 cancer patients will lose up to £94 a week. In March an alliance of 30 cancer charities, including Macmillan, wrote an open letter to the Government expressing concern about the Bill and opposing ESA time-limiting.
Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
“Though we understand that the Government should alert people in advance to any changes to their benefits, the Welfare Reform Bill is not even close to being passed and yet the Government is already behaving as if it is. They are laying the groundwork for ESA time-limiting despite many Lords opposing the plans just last week at Second Reading. Lords will no doubt be angry that claimants are being told they could lose their benefits before they have had the opportunity to debate the proposals in detail.“The letters will cause a great deal of distress to thousands of cancer patients and their families who will be left wondering whether their vital financial support will be taken away or not. We will continue to urge the Government to think again.”
The mental health charity Mind has found that in many cases the prospect of welfare reform is causing serious mental distress for benefit claimants. Mind’s Chief Executive Paul Farmer says:
“We know that the prospect of changes to benefits can be very stressful for the people who rely on welfare whilst they are too unwell to work, and since the Welfare Reform Bill began its life, our InfoLine has seen a significant increase in the number of people calling, distressed and terrified that their benefits are going to be cut off.“It doesn’t matter if you receive ESA for depression, cancer or any other health problem, this letter will be a bolt from the blue for many which could have a catastrophic impact on their mental wellbeing.“It is very alarming that the Government is pressing ahead with these plans without considering the anxiety that their actions will cause, and we worry that these letters could potentially impede claimants’ return to health.”
Macmillan Cancer Support and Mind wants the Bill amended so everyone eligible for ESA who has paid into the system will receive it for as long as they need it. The charities also believe it is unacceptable to make sick and disabled people wait six months to access Personal Independence Payment (PIP).
Now the Tories want to force cancer sufferers who are in the middle of their chemotherapy to attend assessments to see if they are fit to work!
Macmillan Cancer Support has strongly criticised a Department of Work and Pensions decision to propose changes to the benefits system which could have devastating consequences for many thousands of cancer patients. Under the plans being consulted on, seriously ill cancer patients in the middle of gruelling intravenous chemotherapy treatment will be forced to prove they are too sick to work. Some patients will have to face back-to-work interviews or be denied a crucial benefit - Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
This is despite unambiguous recommendations from cancer experts and 30 cancer charities who have clearly stated that patients going through debilitating cancer treatment - and who have to leave work - should be automatically eligible for ESA.
Until now, cancer patients receiving non-oral chemotherapy have been exempt from work-focused interviews and medical assessments to determine whether they may be fit for work, while oral chemotherapy or radiotherapy patients have not been given this protection. Cancer charities, representing the views of patients, have asked the DWP to end this discrepancy as the side-effects of oral chemotherapy and radiotherapy can be just as physically debilitating as non oral chemotherapy. However, instead of extending exemptions to particularly vulnerable cancer patients, the DWP is proposing to remove these from all.
This announcement also comes despite the Government’s repeated assurances that they had no interest in making it harder for cancer patients to access benefits while they are undergoing debilitating treatment and would reverse changes introduced only months ago to extend protection to patients awaiting chemotherapy.
Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
“Cancer patients in the middle of treatment are, in many cases, fighting for their lives. Yet the Government is proposing to change the rules so all cancer patients will have to undergo a stressful assessment to prove they are unable to work. This shows a clear disregard and misunderstanding of what it’s like to undergo punishing treatment. Patients who previously had peace of mind would face the stress and practical difficulties of getting assessed for work they are too poorly to do.“To make matters worse, the Government is pressing ahead with proposed changes in the Welfare Reform Bill that will make 7,000 cancer patients lose ESA after 12 months simply because they have not recovered quickly enough.“We hope Ministers will rethink these proposals and listen to the clear views of the cancer community. Cancer is the toughest fight many people will have to face, the Government should not be making it tougher for them.”
Macmillan has launched a petition to call on the Government to make changes to the Welfare Reform Bill: www.macmillan.org.uk/welfarepetition
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
The Government is proposing that DLA should be replaced with a new benefit called Personal Independence Payment (PIP). As part of the new benefit the Government wants to double the period that someone is required to demonstrate need before they make a claim for benefit from 3 months to 6 months. However, cancer treatment results in a sudden onset of daily living and/or mobility needs. The need for help with daily living and getting around can start immediately and escalate rapidly. Making cancer patients wait for 6 months before they can even apply for vital support is simply unfair.
Macmillan believes that people who experience a sudden onset of debilitation which is likely to be long-term should be entitled to apply for PIP as soon as their support needs arise.Just what will it take before people realise what the Conservative and the Liberal Democrat government is doing? Will it take someone in your family to fall seriously ill or become disabled before you realise that what this government are doing is very very wrong?
Macmillan Cancer Support
More Links about government intentions that affect the seriously ill