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 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 82.

    Sick humans depriving other sick humans. Words cannot express my disgust,

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    Have politicians forgotten how this country got into this financial quagmire in the first place? Let me remind you greedy corrupt bankers not to mention politicians fiddling expenses and now you propose to reduce the benefits of dying people to save how much? In the scheme of things is a pittance, shame on you. If this country is to save money look towards London’s ‘Square Mile’

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    You couldn't make it up!..........Hahaha!

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    If this is correct it is truly DISGRACEFUL ! How is there is always money to fight meaningless wars and keep foreign criminals in luxury prisons. Simply APPALLING.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Could the BBC look into this more, please? On the face of it this policy is completely unacceptable. Even if you were of the opinion that state support is not right then there still must be a safety net for the sick and vulnerable. 45 is completely correct on this point.
    The policy of sending letters before Parliament has debated is madness and bordering on dictatorial.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Disgusting. Once again we those generally in need being targeted by this uncaring & our of touch government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    17.Jacob Logos Kizmet
    5 Hours ago
    you are all fools if one single person perishes because of this action

    I think you'l find that is the gist of the outcome

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    This government does have two economic plans (A and B): A is to attack the ILL, the VULNERABLE, the ELDERLY, the WEAK.
    Plan B? To see how much they can reduce tax for the wealthy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    Anyone watch the last series of Torchwood? And there was me thinking it was all made up. Can't we just wheel out the sick and infirm and burn them ? (NOT) That should save the government a couple of quid to employ some more advisers!

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    i would imagine most people that are ill and on benefits would love to lose their contribution side of it as that would allow them to claim the income related benefit and get all the extra pass-ported benefits like free prescriptions and housing benefits and budgeting loans just like those that have never worked or contributed to the contribution side of the benefit scheme,

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    #46: This coalition of the right have already introduced measures which have resulted in paraplegics being told they are fit for work, so why should they not cut benefit payments to the terminally ill?
    They would say they want to remove the dead hand of the State and encourage more personal responsibility.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    There are plenty of comfortably off people: some may have even asked for expenses when they should not have, but they seem exempt from action (eg bankers and their bonuses) However the terminally-ill are targetted in this disgusting way. I assume that the government thinks they will be dead soon and therefore be unable to appeal these decisions. Truly disgusting. Kicking people when they are down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    @57.Petracore: I wish the government had to act on the overwhelming opinion of these opinion columns

    Based on the columns about education I wouldn't go that far. If that was the case the country would be producing no scientists or doctors with this "everyone should pay it all themselves" attitude. Considering the ACTUAL costs of science and medicine it wouldn't be remotely possible.

  • 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?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    In principle I am totally in favour of a prudent govt spending policy. However (if the report is correct) this is totally wrong. Western democracies intervened in Libya primarily on humanitarian grounds - we should also show compassion to our own UK citizens and allow them to live their last days in dignity and without additional anxiety.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    so this only affects the contribution side of the benefit,so that means the income related side will not be touched,it seems fair then that if someone has over £16000.00 in savings and their partner works over 24 hours a week or has an income that would exceed the benefit then why shouldn't they only have it paid for 12 months,a terminal illness is not a 6 month death sentence any-more,

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Thanks goodness for the House of Lords
    For those people advocating scrapping it - this is what it's there to prevent and they will stop it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    The comments here act like these people won't receive any benefits at all.... Get a grip.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    @30.marie: Erm...as far as I know pensions are paid for out of current tax money. So strictly speaking nobody works to get their pension, they work to cover the previous generation's pension. Which is why the ageing population is such a big problem.

    That aside your general point is well-founded. Cutting the benefits of people who are struggling with terminal disease is just repugnant.


Page 12 of 16


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