31 January 2012
A new YouGov poll of 2,032 people for Macmillan Cancer Support reveals that a staggering three quarters (72%) believe there should not be a time limit on the amount of time that someone suffering from cancer or the side-effects can receive benefits. This includes 65% of Conservative supporters.
Under current proposals in the controversial Welfare Reform Bill, many cancer patients will have a vital out-of-work benefit – Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) - removed after one year irrespective of whether they are well enough to return to work. Based on Government’s figures Macmillan Cancer Support estimates 7,000 cancer patients will lose up to £94 a week.
The poll also revealed that nine out of ten (89%) people agree that the Government has a moral duty to ensure that cancer patients are not pushed into poverty by the welfare cuts. This comes on the day (Wednesday 1st February) the Government tries to reverse the House of Lords’ amendment to the bill exempting cancer patients from the proposed time limit on how long they can claim ESA.
Today the Liberal Democrats will have the casting vote on this proposal and the poll shows that the overwhelming majority (74%) of people think the Liberal Democrats should support the exemption for cancer patients, including 80% of Liberal Democrat supporters.
Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
“The Lords have voted, and again the public have spoken - cancer patients should not be penalised for not recovering quickly enough and the current welfare reform proposals are inherently unfair. The Coalition Government must listen to these concerns of the public including their own party supporters, as well as the whole cancer community. Cancer patients must not bear the brunt of the economic crisis.”
Stephanie, 54, from Derbyshire, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. She says:
“Cancer makes you feel very vulnerable, if the Government scraps the exemption (for cancer patients) I will feel completely cut adrift from society. Cancer isn’t a routine diagnosis and recovery is not a routine process. I don’t understand how someone like myself who has had two lots of surgery for breast cancer, multiple sessions of radiotherapy, and is still experiencing all the side effects, both physical and psychological, can be told they’re unemployed rather than ill. Each cancer patient needs to be viewed as an individual, you can’t have a blanket law saying you should have recovered in a set time. That’s not reality.”
For further information, please contact:
Sarah Ross, Senior Media and PR Officer
020 7840 4722 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
1 Figure from YouGov Plc. Sample Size: 2023 GB Adults. Fieldwork: 29th - 30th January 2012.
2 Full breakdown of 7,000 / £94 figure:
3 The Government was defeated over plans to limit the amount of time people can receive ESA to 12 months in the House of Lords on 11th January 2012. Peers backed amendments extending it to 24 months and exempting cancer patients. The five Liberal Democrat Peers who backed the cancer exemption proposal included:
1. Lord Avebury
2. Lord Clement-Jones
3. Baroness Doocey
4. Baroness Tonge
5. Baroness Williams of Crosby
About Macmillan Cancer Support:
Macmillan Cancer Support improves the lives of people affected by cancer, providing practical, medical, emotional and financial support. Working alongside people affected by cancer, Macmillan works to improve cancer care. More than one in three of us get cancer. Two million of us are living with it. If you are affected by cancer Macmillan can help.