Campaign success – how it happened
Find out about our Welfare reform campaign and how it made a difference to people affected by cancer.
The Government announced that waiting times for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefit are down to 11 weeks. We’ve been calling on the Government to reduce waiting times to this target for over a year, to ensure people receive this vital benefit as swiftly as possible. The news follows another campaign success earlier this year when Macmillan convinced the Government to publish PIP waiting times data publicly, enabling us to hold them to account for their action to reduce delays.
Our policy report, Waiting to benefit [PDF, 568 KB], launched on 16 June 2014. It outlined Macmillan’s new research on how Personal Independence Payment (PIP) was working for people living with cancer in its first year. It included recommendations for Government on how the system might be improved moving forwards. Read the Executive Summary of the findings [PDF, 315 KB].
Following the roll-out of Personal Independence Payments across England, Scotland and Wales for new claimants in June 2013, our benefit advice services had begun to report serious concerns about the processing of terminally ill claimants.
Under DLA the Government worked to a target of 8 to 10 working days, while under PIP there is no target and we found claims were taking up to 8 to 10 weeks to process. This is unacceptable. We raised these concerns immediately with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and are seeking to help them solve the problem. In November, our concerns were covered by the BBC.
In December, Disability Minister Mike Penning gave evidence to the Work and Pensions Committee telling them he wanted to see claims processed within 7 working days. We are continuing to work with the DWP to ensure terminally ill cancer patients receive their benefit as soon as possible.
Read our latest briefing on the issues facing terminally ill cancer patients [PDF, 249 KB].
The Government consulted on its ‘Moving around’ criteria for Personal Independence Payments. Macmillan was concerned that the threshold of 20m determining ‘virtually unable to walk’ may result in a number of people with severe mobility issues across a variety of conditions including cancer not getting the support they need. We proposed raising this threshold to 50m.
As of 28 January 2013, the Government implemented changes to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) meaning that people awaiting, undergoing and recovering from chemotherapy and radiotherapy would be placed in the Support Group, where help is unconditional and not time-limited. The ‘vast majority’ of cases will be decided on medical evidence, rather than having to undergo a stressful Work Capability Assessment.
Macmillan campaigned for these changes and was pleased the Government listened. We are monitoring the impact and implementation of these changes – if you have applied for ESA since 28 January and would like to share your experience, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 2012: Changes to the Work Capability Assessment
Government has confirmed changes to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), the key out of work benefit for people with a disability or illness.
The changes will see more cancer patients who are awaiting, receiving, and recovering from treatment, receive support without having to undergo a medical assessment or attend back to work interviews.
Currently, benefit rules distinguish between patients who receive non-oral chemotherapy and other forms of treatment. However, the latest changes mean that all chemotherapy and radiotherapy patients will be treated in the same way when applying for ESA.
Read Macmillan's response here.
This announcement followed a government consultation which Macmillan responded to.
Read our response [PDF, 159 KB].
We also got together with 11 other cancer charities to write this letter [PDF, 59 KB] to the Employment Minister, Chris Grayling MP, about the Work Capability Assessment.
February 2012: Government forces through plan to time limit ESA
A House of Lords amendment to the Welfare Reform Bill exempting cancer patients from plans to time limit ESA was rejected by MPs on 1 February. Read our response to the vote here.
MPs voted in favour of a time limit for cancer patients despite evidence from a poll commissioned by Macmillan which revealed overwhelming public opposition to the idea.
Despite this setback we are continuing our campaign against time limiting.
Macmillan welcomes government change of heart on PIP
News that the government has agreed to cut the time cancer patients have to wait to qualify for Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) from 6 to 3 months, has been warmly welcomed by Macmillan.
The government’s change of heart came during the report stage of the Welfare Reform Bill in the House of Lords in January.
Read our reaction.
January 2012: Lords reject ESA plans for cancer patients
At the report stage of the Welfare Reform Bill on Wednesday 11 January, the House of Lords backed an amendment by Lord Patel, to exempt cancer patients from plans to time limit Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). We strongly supported Lord Patel’s amendment.
Read our reaction to the vote.
We will be working hard to persuade MPs to support the amendment when the Bill returns to the House of Commons in February.
November 2011: Committee stage in the House of Lords
Crucial amendments to the Welfare Reform Bill were debated in the House of Lords on Tuesday 8 November.
The amendments discussed support our campaign against plans to take away a person’s Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) after just one year. Lord Patel tabled an amendment to the Bill opposing the one-year time limit.
Macmillan’s other concerns about the impact of the Bill on people with cancer were discussed at length by a number of other Lords during the debate.
Read Macmillan’s Second Reading Briefing for Lords [PDF, 100 KB].
The progress of a Bill through Parliament can be confusing. Find out about the steps involved on the Parliament website.
September 2011: Lib Dem vote and Second reading
On Saturday 17 September, the party voted in favour of opposing the Government’s plans to take away a person’s Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) after just one year, under the Welfare Reform Bill.
This is great news. The result means that we have an even greater chance of changing the Bill as it progresses to the House of Lords.
Read what Macmillan's former CEO has to say on Welfare Reform here.
Second reading in the House of Lords
On Tuesday 13 September, the Bill was debated in the Lords for the first time. Our campaign and the impact that some of the proposed changes could have on people affected by cancer were talked about extensively.
Read Macmillan's Second Reading Briefing for Peers [PDF, 176 KB].
The briefing tells peers what Macmillan thinks about the Bill so that they can speak up on behalf of people affected by cancer during the debate.
July 2011: Second reading in the House of Lords delayed
The second reading of the Welfare Reform Bill was delayed until Tuesday 13 September. Read Macmillan’s original Second Reading Briefing for Peers [PDF, 171 KB].
June 2011: Report Stage and Third Reading in the Commons
Following Committee Stage, the Bill moved to Report Stage in the House of Commons where all MPs had two days to consider the details of the Bill.
Macmillan worked with MPs from the three main political parties to ensure that our concerns were raised again.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
On the first day of Report Stage, MPs ran out of time to debate the Bill which meant our concerns around ESA were not discussed.
However, our hard work was not wasted. Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition, raised our points at Prime Minister’s Questions. He highlighted the negative impact that time-limiting contributory based ESA could have on people living with cancer.
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
The following day MPs discussed extending the qualifying period for PIP, which will replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA). The qualifying period is the length of time someone has to wait before they are able to apply for PIP.
Macmillan argues that people with cancer already struggle to cope with the current three month qualifying time, and extending it to six months could be disastrous for many.
While Ministers expressed their willingness to listen to our concerns, a proposed change to the Bill which would have retained the current qualifying period was rejected.
Immediately after the Report Stage concluded, the Bill had its Third Reading. Again discussion returned to Macmillan’s campaign against time-limiting ESA. The Bill has now completed its passage through the House of Commons and will move to the House of Lords.
Read our press release.
April - May 2011: Committee stage in the House of Commons
Following the Bill's second reading, 26 MPs were invited to form a government committee and take a closer look at the Welfare Reform Bill. With the help of our campaigners and Macmillan welfare rights advisers, we made sure these MPs debated our issues and gave serious consideration to our concerns. Here's what happened:
We want cancer patients receiving oral chemotherapy and radiotherapy to automatically receive ESA, without being medically assessed first.
We're delighted the Minister for Employment has agreed to implement recommendations, which will be made following an independent review into ESA. We are working closely with the review to influence its recommendations around patients receiving oral chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
We're campaigning to ensure all cancer patients who can't work because of their condition receive ESA for as long as they need it.
Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs challenged the government's plan to limit the amount of time people can claim ESA. The government stated that this change was necessary because it would save significant amounts of money.
We’re campaigning to ensure cancer patients get support with the extra costs of cancer, as soon as they need it.
Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs asked the government to reconsider its plans to make people wait six months before receiving DLA. The government maintained that six months was an acceptable amount of time for people with a long term condition to wait.
There is still work to do to make sure the welfare system doesn't let people with cancer down. However, the Minister's comments during committee stage have helped us to strengthen our arguments. We're now looking to secure more support as the Bill progresses to Report Stage. This will provide all MPs with the the opportunity to propose and vote on changes to the Bill.
March 2011: Second reading in the House of Commons
The government debated the welfare reform proposals in Parliament on 9 March for the first time. Thanks to over 2,200 campaigners writing to over 80% of MPs, 13 Members of Parliament spoke out against benefit cuts for people with cancer.
Find out what MPs said in the debate here.
In March 2011 we wrote a letter to the government, signed by 29 other cancer charities,
about the Welfare Reform Bill's impact on people living with cancer.
Read our letter to the government [PDF, 316 KB].
Pictured below: The charities fighting for a fairer benefits system with us.