Employment Support Allowance – The Campaign Continues

Last week the government announced new plans which mean that people receiving treatment for cancer will no longer be required to seek employment in return for receiving their sickness benefits.

Cancer patients will also be asked to through a simplified process for their Employment Support Allowance where they will only have to supply a GP’s report in receipt of their claim. They will no longer have to undergo a back-to-work test, a procedure which may place people under additional stress during difficult times.

This concession, however, will not affect patients undergoing treatment for other debilitating diseases or with any disability. A GP’s report in receipt of a claim should be enough for all claimants as the doctor will often have knowledge of a patient’s history, something which is often disregarded in assessments of people with fluctuating conditions.

While the changes have been welcomed by cancer charities who lobbied heavily in their favour, representatives from other organisations have voiced their concerns. Although it’s useful to highlight different conditions, and how assessing working ability of people living with them is unfair, this approach runs the risk of diluting a unified voice.

Recent developments show that the government is prepared to make concessions in welfare reform, and as such should be seen as an opportunity for campaigners.

Already, petitions asking for further exceptions have begun, and perhaps powerful professional groups such as the General Medical Council should also join the campaign by speaking out on behalf of patients.




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