Cancer patients ‘not dying’ does not mean ‘being well’

Robertson highlights Westminster fight against
Robertson highlights SNP’s Westminster fight against work capability assessments

WORK CAPABILITY ASSESSMENTS are still causing serious concerns for families – in particular those with members who are fighting and surviving cancer.

Moray MP Angus Robertson was amongst a number of SNP members at Westminster who were highlighting the issue this week during a debate on the controversial system.

Those claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA), intended to provide financial assistance to people with serious health conditions or disabilities that prevent their working, face capability assessments ordered by the Department of Work and Pensions that ultimately decide if they are fit for work and so no longer eligible for support.

However, the way the assessment is being operated has been roundly condemned by the SNP and welfare campaigners. Now SNP MPs are calling for the system to be scrapped completely due to the hardship and distress caused to sick and disabled people by protracted delays and poor decision making.

Angus Robertson said: “A huge number of decisions against ESA claims have been overturned on appeal as a result of flawed assessments, leaving legitimate claimants without critical welfare support at a crisis point in their life.

“As an example, when it comes to cancer sufferers survival rates for people are improving – but the welfare system must recognise that ’not dying’ is not the same as ‘being well’.

“While the terminally ill and people undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy are exempt from these often degrading and cruel assessments, six months after treatment has ended they are back to having to jump through hoops to get support.

“Around half a million people across the UK face poor health and disability after treatment, experiencing a wide range of distressing long-term physical and emotional problems such as depression, incontinence, crippling fatigue, PTSD, and moderate to severe pain. These problems may only emerge some months after treatment and can persist for at least 10 years.

“We have a crazy situation where an audit of the DWP showed that the cost of the tests is greater than any reduction in welfare costs.

“Our social security system should support people towards work, but it should also be a safety net that affords dignity to those who are not fit for work – not just those who will never return to work, but also those with long term conditions, and those who need time to recover from serious illness or injury.

“Our welfare system has to have fairness at its heart and quite simply the Work Capability Assessment is unfair. The UK Government must end this failing system and give the support and respect that claimants deserve at a difficult time in their lives.”