This week I attended the launch of Macmillan Cancer Support’s new research report, Waiting to Benefit, into the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) disability benefit and heard that at least 4,500 cancer patients (29%) across the UK have waited six months or more after claiming to find out whether they are eligible.
I heard emotional and harrowing personal testimonies at the launch from cancer patients who have experienced delays in receiving their disability benefits. Many cancer patients are finding that their finances are an additional burden when they are so concerned about their health. A number of constituents have contacted me because they have been facing delays and it is vitally important that they receive their money at a time when they need it most.
The PIP assessment process should take no more than 11 weeks and I would like to know what the Government is doing to reduce the delays and how long it will take to get the processing times down, so that my constituents receive their benefits in a timely manner.
It is vitally important that the DWP is transparent in this matter so that people affected by cancer and other disabilities know what to expect when they make a claim for benefit. As a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee, it is clear that there are serious problems with implementation of PIP and I will continue to raise these issues with the Minister for Disabled People.
- The Macmillan research reveals that a quarter (25%) of those who have started their claim are currently stuck in the system as they wait at least six months for the initial assessment. These delays are in addition to the lengthy three-month wait cancer patients are forced to endure before they are even eligible to apply for PIP.
- Nearly half (47%) of all cancer patients surveyed were dissatisfied with the overall process. A third (33%) said this was because of the lengthy delays and almost a quarter (23%) blamed poor communication from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). Worryingly, some cancer patients found the PIP claims process and interaction with DWP so difficult, upsetting or time consuming that 2% stopped their claims entirely.
- For financial support cancer patients can visit www.macmillan.org.uk/financialsupport to find their nearest face-to-face benefits adviser, or call Macmillan free on 0808 808 00 00.