SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has raised the issue of changes to Disability Living Allowance which could affect cancer patients during Prime Minister’s Question Time in the House of Commons.
She said, “I am concerned as are many others that the Coalition’s plan for reform of DLA is a very blunt instrument which would not differentiate sufficiently between the seriously ill and the broader range of people in receipt of the benefit. People diagnosed with cancer, for example, are faced with a huge challenge in their lives. They should not be allowed to get caught up in a wider political debate about benefits or claims revisions. They and their families should be able to rely on clearly identified sources of care and support so that they can concentrate on treatment and recovery.”
Parliamentary Question: Margaret Ritchie
“Does the Prime Minster recognise the concerns that have been raised about the adverse implications and complications for cancer patients under the proposals in the Welfare reform Bill for replacing DLA with personal independence payments and will he therefore investigate with ministers the case for creating straightforward cancer care and support allowance which would be available to those diagnosed with cancer and who are either undergoing or awaiting treatment.”
Answer from the Prime Minister
“I think the honourable lady asks a very important question. We will look very carefully as will the government medical advisor at DLA and its interaction with people who have cancer but I think everyone on all sides of the house should recognise that DLA does need reform. The fact is there are 130,000 people on DLA who have not had a claim revised at all since the benefit was introduced in 1992.
“There are three-quarters of a million people who have had the same claim for ten years and no contact from the department. There are actually 21,000 people of working age getting DLA because they are on drink or drugs so there really is reform necessary but making sure we assess people with cancer properly is part of that reform.”