16 June 2014
At least 4,500 cancer patients (29%) have waited six months or more to find out whether they will even be awarded their disability benefit Personal Independence Payment (PIP) after claiming, 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.
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.
Waiting to benefit – the first-ever report looking at the impact of the new disability benefit for cancer patients – surveyed 210 cancer patients who have been supported by Macmillan’s benefits advice services. The report shows the detrimental impact these benefit delays are having on cancer patients:
• Over half (56%) found their finances took a hit
• Two fifths (40%) were unable to adequately heat their homes
• One in three (34%) felt the delays had resulted in mental health problems such as anxiety or depression
Jodie Patten, 31, from London, was diagnosed with breast and bone cancer in October 2013, says:
“I applied for the PIP about a month after I was diagnosed, and seven months later I still haven’t even had an assessment. I have had to constantly call up to find out what is happening with my application. I have worked all my life, paid my taxes, and it feels like I’m begging for money.
“My finances have been severely affected while waiting, day-to-day expenses such as food become more difficult to cope with. I already have to worry about cancer, and I don’t need to worry about paying the bills as well.”
Nearly half (47%) of all cancer patients surveyed were dissatisfied with the overall process. A third (33%) said this was because of the lengthy delays and almost a quarter (23%) 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.
Duleep Allirajah, Head of Policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
“Our report shows the real and shattering impact these PIP delays are having on cancer patients. It is unacceptable that people struggle to heat their homes, are saddled with debt or are left anxious or depressed because they are waiting so long for their much-needed benefits.
“These delays are a further blow to cancer patients who have to prove that they have been affected by their disease for at least three months before the state will consider them as eligible for help.
“The Government has a duty to ensure that the new disability benefit works at least as well as the old one and Macmillan is calling on them to reduce waiting times to 11 weeks as a matter of urgency.
“We have raised these issues with the Department for Work and Pensions and are keen to continue to work with them to help improve the benefits claiming process for cancer patients.
“If you have cancer and need financial support or benefits advice please contact Macmillan. We have a large network of welfare advice services and benefits advisers who are here to support you.”
To read an executive summary of the findings, visit:
To read the full report, visit:
No-one 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 us free on 0808 808 00 00.
For further information, please contact:
Cora Bauer, Media and PR Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support
0207 091 2016 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
In February, UK Disability Minister Mike Penning announced that processing times for terminally ill people claiming under special rules are down to 10 days and will be further lowered to seven. Macmillan is calling on the Minister to now commit to reducing waiting times for those claiming under normal rules in order to ensure a benefits system that works for all cancer patients.
1 Macmillan estimate has been calculated based on:
• DWP Personal Independence Payments: GB Official Statistics released on 5th June 2014 which show that as of February 2014 3.88% of PIP cases in payment were classified under ‘malignant disease’ not under special rules. We assume this proportion can be used to estimate the minimum proportion of Personal Independence (PIP) claimants with cancer. (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/317425/pip-statistical-release-june-2014.pdf )
• DWP Personal Independence Payments: GB Official Statistics which show a cumulative total of 335,100 PIP claims from April 2013 to March 2014. Adjusting these figures to produce a 12 month estimate covering the period since PIP was rolled out nationally in June 2013, we estimate a total number of 405,866 claims.
• Applying the 3.88% to the total estimated number of claims since PIP was introduced we estimate approximately 15,747 of these claims are from cancer patients.
• Results from our research show that 29% of PIP claimants (at various stages of the claims process) had waited for at least six months from the start of their claim to either receiving a decision or hearing about the next step of the process (either to be invited to assessment, have the assessment, or receive a decision). Overall times taken will include time taken by the claimant to complete and return their form.
• Applying this 29% to the 15,747 we estimate over 4,500 PIP claimants with cancer have had to wait six months or more from the start of their claim to either receive a decision or to hear about the next step of the process (either to be invited to assessment, have the assessment, or receive a decision).
2 Personal Independence Payment eligibility criteria state that in order to be entitled to PIP, claimants have to satisfy a qualifying period of 3 months and a prospective test of 9 months. The qualifying period establishes that the claimant has had the needs for a certain period of time before entitlement can start and the prospective test shows they are likely to have continuing needs for a specified period after the award starts. For more info see link below: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/312331/PIP-handbook.pdf
About Macmillan Cancer Support
When you have cancer, you don’t just worry about what will happen to your body, you worry about what will happen to your life. Whether it’s concerns about who you can talk to, planning for the extra costs or what to do about work, at Macmillan we understand how a cancer diagnosis can take over everything.
That’s why we’re here. We provide support that helps people take back control of their lives. But right now, we can’t reach everyone who needs us. We need your help to make sure that people affected by cancer get the support they need to face the toughest fight of their life. No one should face cancer alone, and with your support no one will.
To get involved, call 0300 1000 200 today. And please remember, we’re here for you too. If you’d like support, information or just to chat, call us free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit macmillan.org.u