Denied and delayed

Why we need to fix Universal Credit.

We have been concerned that the new benefit Universal Credit hasn't been working for people with cancer. It is difficult to apply for, hard to get the right support and often comes with long delayed payments.

Why campaign on this issue?

What’s the problem?

Universal Credit is a new 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're doing

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’re campaigning to fix Universal Credit, because cancer is hard enough.

Find out more about how Universal Credit impacts people with cancer.


Our campaign is already making a difference

Read about the successes we've already had since launching this campaign.

October 2018
  • We identified that people with cancer were facing lengthy delays when waiting for Universal Credit payment, and finding difficulty accessing and applying in the first instance. 
  • We launched a public campaign raising awareness of the issues that people have faced and over 2,000 of our campaigners emailed their MP asking them to raise these concerns with the Minister.
  • As a result, extra funding for Universal Credit was included in the Government’s Autumn Budget announcement, which could be used to reduce waiting times for payments.
November 2018
  • We continued to keep up momentum with the campaign, raising awareness of Neil’s story and encouraging others to tell their story.
  • After a series of changes in Government, Amber Rudd MP replaced Ester McVey as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
  • Over 153 of our campaigners tweeted Amber Rudd directly welcoming her to the new role and asking her to address the issues that people with cancer face with Universal Credit.
What's next?

We're continuing to campaign on this issue and will be taking action in the New Year when Government will likely be asked to vote on the regulations of Universal Credit.

Neil's experience of claiming Universal Credit

‘After my treatment, I went to the Jobcentre to apply for Universal Credit. I then had to sit in front of the computer for six hours to actually fill the whole thing in.'

'The Universal Credit people have made me feel really embarrassed by my situation and the fact I have cancer. I feel like it’s my fault. And that’s wrong.’