Local MP, Andrew Gwynne, attended the launch of Macmillan Cancer Support’s new research report, Waiting to Benefit, into disability benefit Personal Independence Payment (PIP), at the Houses of Parliament.
The report says that at least 4,500 cancer patients across the UK have waited six months or more after claiming to find out whether they are eligible, according to estimates by Macmillan Cancer Support based on new research from IFF research.
The 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.
Andrew Gwynne MP said:
“I was very concerned to hear about these results which mean that 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. I am supporting Macmillan and intend to raise this issue with the Minister for Disabled People until the matter is resolved.”
Under the previous system the average time taken to receive a decision about the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) took just 11 weeks. Now the process is taking far longer with cancer patients waiting an average of 19 weeks without receiving any decision.
Nearly half of all cancer patients surveyed were dissatisfied with the overall process. A third said this was because of the lengthy delays and almost a quarter 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.
Nobody should face financial worries alone. For financial support visit www.macmillan.org.uk/financialsupport to find your nearest face-to-face benefits adviser, or call Macmillan free on 0808 808 00 00.