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Do you claim contributory Employment and Support Allowance?

Breast Cancer Care
Wednesday, 21 September, 2011 - 15:24

If so, the Government is planning to limit the amount of time people can claim contributory Employment Support Allowance (ESA) in the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) to just 12 months from April 2012.

Breast Cancer Care is campaigning to scrap this arbitrary time limit that we feel penalises cancer patients for not being fit for work within a specified time frame. The nature of breast cancer treatment and the longer term effects of diagnosis and treatment mean that many people need longer than 12 months to return to work. Any changes will be retrospective so people that have already claimed for a year in April 2012 will lose their benefit immediately.

People are already being sent letters by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) letting them know of the possible changes to their benefits, even though the bill has not passed and it is not 100% certain the change will happen, particularly because of opposition from various quarters, including Liberal Democrat party members and cancer charities like ours.

Current rules mean someone with a terminal prognosis but who has longer than six months to live may be in the ESA WRAG and is therefore likely to receive one of the letters which the DWP began sending on Monday (19 September) about the April 2012 cut off date.

The DWP's defence is that as people approach end-of-life, they may qualify for the ESA Support Group (i.e. when the six months prognosis confirmed). Please note this change does not affect people currently claiming ESA in the support group.

We are looking for case studies (particularly if you have received a letter from the DWP) that would be happy to talk about the effects of losing ESA after a year for possible media coverage. For example, we could use your quote in a newspaper article or press release.

Your voice will make a hard-hitting impact and help us to lobby MPs to ensure this change does not go ahead.

Please contact kiran.dhami@breastcancercare.org.uk or call 0207 960 3468 if you are interested in being a media case study.

For more background on these developments, you can read an article on the BBC News website.

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