A young man wearing a grey t-shirt standing in the street

Universal Credit: denied and delayed

In this past campaign, we raised awareness of the barriers preventing people living with cancer from accessing Universal Credit. These included a complex application process leading to delayed payments.

Neil's experience of claiming UC 

A young man wearing a grey t-shirt and jeans stands with his arms folded.

Neil, diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2016

"I had to sit in front of the computer for six hours" - Neil, diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2016

About the campaign

  • What's the problem?
    Universal Credit is a benefit available to people of working age. It replaced six separate welfare benefits, including Employment Support Allowance (ESA); an essential benefit often claimed by people with cancer who are too unwell to work.

    Through conversations with the people Macmillan support and work with, we have heard that Universal Credit is too often not working for people with cancer.
  • Key issues
    • People who are applying for Universal Credit when they have cancer or are terminally ill should not face long waits or delays. They should receive their first payment as quickly as possible. We welcome the recent Autumn Budget announcement, which indicates extra funding could be used to help reduce these waiting times. We want to see this put into place urgently.
    • Applying for Universal Credit is unnecessarily difficult, with less than half of people being able to complete their claim in one attempt.
    • When the Government begins the next phase of moving people to Universal Credit, thousands more people with cancer could be at risk of facing these problems. And with more people receiving universal credit, it’s likely delays receiving claims will get worse.
  • What we did
    At Macmillan, we want to make sure people with cancer get all the support they need, when they need it the most. We offer financial support and guidance to help people with cancer to find their best way through when claiming support. But we can’t do it alone.

    The welfare system should meet the needs of people with cancer who are too unwell to work. We campaigned to fix Universal Credit, because cancer is hard enough.

Our campaign made a difference

A black woman withdrawing money from a cash machine (Shola)

Cancer - a costly diagnosis?

Our report highlights the real-life stories of the financial difficulties faced by people living with cancer. It also looks at what MPs and decision makers can do to fix it.

Read the report below to find out more.

Read the report