Macmillan’s concerns come as George Osborne tells MPs that he is ‘comfortable’ with controversial tax credit cuts
Thousands of cancer patients could lose support payments used to pay for daily living costs like heating, transport and special dietary needs because of the Government’s welfare cuts, the country’s leading cancer charity has warned.
Macmillan said the reforms, which would see some cancer patients who are too ill to work losing up to £120 a month in Government support, could push vulnerable people “over the edge financially”.
Currently, sick and disabled people too unwell to work and eligible for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) are assigned to one of two groups – the support group, for people with problems so severe they have no prospect of working, or the work-related activity group (WRAG), who have to attend interviews with employment advisors.
Under the Government’s Welfare Reform and Work Bill, WRAG payments, which are designed to enable people who are unwell to pay for extra costs associated with their health condition, will be cut from £102 to £73 a week.
For cancer patients, the money often goes on heating bills, because cancer increases vulnerability to cold; new clothing, often required because of weight loss or to cover swellings or colostomy bags; and extra nutritional food to ensure a healthy recovery.
The Government must reconsider these plans or risk pushing the most vulnerable over the edge financially
As of February this year, around 3,300 cancer patients were in the WRAG group. Although the changes, due to come into effect in 2017, will only affect new claimants, Macmillan has warned this could quickly lead to thousands of cancer patients missing out.