Terminally ill people warned over possible benefit cut

Patient and carer Terminally ill people face having their benefit payments cut

Thousands of terminally-ill people have begun receiving letters warning them their benefits could be cut in April even though Parliament has yet to approve the changes.

Under proposals being scrutinised in the Lords, Contributory Employment Support Allowance (CESA) will be time-limited to 12 months from April 2012.

The changes will be retrospective.

So people on CESA for 12 months or more when the rule comes into force will have their benefit cut immediately.

Earlier this week, delegates at the Liberal Democrat conference in Birmingham passed a motion calling on their MPs to oppose the "arbitrary" time limit, contained in the Welfare Bill, and the plans are likely to face stiff opposition in the Lords.

'No win situation'

Neil Coyle, of the Disability Alliance, said that while it is uncertain whether the rule will be passed, it is premature for the Department for Work and Pensions to warn recipients of the changes.

"The letters are now being sent at a cost of £2.7m, including letters to people who unaffected by the change but who will experience considerable anxiety," he said.

"The government has time to change plans before terminally-ill people and their families have this avoidable and quite nasty cut imposed."

The Department of Work and Pensions admits it is conceivable the legislation may not be approved but says it is better to warn people early.

"It would be completely wrong not to alert people well in advance that there is a possibility that their benefit entitlement may change," a spokesman said.

Jenny Willott, Lib Dem backbench spokesman on welfare, says it is a "no-win situation for the DWP".

"If they don't pre-judge the situation they could end up with thousands of people losing their benefits with little notice," she said.

Ms Willott says Lib Dem peers are working on the "issues to be ironed out" in the bill.

Terminally-ill people with less than six months to live will not be affected by the changes.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    This is disgraceful. The government will not increase the taxes on the wealthy (in fact, they want to reduce them). But they are quite happy to take money away from the terminally ill. This is enough! We should no longer allow this regime to treat our citizens in such a terrible manner.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.

    In the months before my sister's death from cancer a few years ago, she should have been entitled to certain benefits, but the department involved dragged its heals so much that the money wasn't paid until after the funeral. I guess the current Government's way of dealing with this saves the paperwork too...

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    How does one put a time on death? When my mother was diagnosed with Liver Cancer, the oncologist WOULDN'T put a time on it. How do the Government/DWP determine who is going to live, for how long and with what condition?
    One Doctor told us in July 09 to go ahead and book a trip to see the Northern lights in Jan 10 - Mum died in Oct 09.
    Terminally ill is terminally ill - leave their beneits alone

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    The biggest issue for such people would probably trying to keep warm and thus pay energy bills presentky spiralling out of control. I'd like to see some flexibilty to help these people in this regard especially.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    I feel like we've gone back in time where we weed out the sick & dying and leave them in the gutter.They've picked on the sick & disabled, describing them as liars, they must be able to work,which I thought was really low, but to apply their statistics of getting people off of benefits and back to work to the terminally ill is inhumane.Do they not realise there will be an election in the future?!


Comments 5 of 8


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