Welfare Payment Cuts: Chris Grayling
Refused To Hear Case Of Breast
The Huffington Post UK | By Dina Rickman Posted: 25/06/2012
18:40 Updated: 25/06/2012 18:40
A government minister has refused to meet with an MP about her
constituent suffering from breast cancer whose benefits have been cut.
Helen Goodman expressed her shock after employment minister Chris
Grayling said he would not meet with her about the 43-year-old woman.
The Labour MP, who used to be a minister in the Department for Work
and Pensions, told The Huffington Post UK: "It's not just the appalling
way the benefits system is treating people like this at the moment, but
also we used to have meetings with MPs if there were particularly hard or
serious cases. If the ministers won't do that how are they going to know
what's really going on."
Goodman asked for a meeting about the woman, who was diagnosed with
breast cancer in July 2010 and deemed fit for work by ATOS a year later,
on Monday in the House of Commons. However her request was refused.
"He said no, we don't have meetings like that about individual cases,
which just completely amazed me and another colleague that used to be a
minister in that department. The reason they're not having meetings is
they've made such a hash of the benefit reforms."
Goodman, who claims her constituent's story is "not unique", is
concerned about her constituent, who is in remission.
"My main concern is that she's not on the higher rate of benefit, their
messing about has caused her a lot of financial problems and if you are in
remission from cancer what you don't need is a lot of stress and anxiety."
The Bishop Auckland MP says her constituent' successfully appealed
against being found fit to work in January 2012 but was put on Job
Seekers' Allowance again by April 2012.
Her employer has held her position open but as the woman's doctor has
not signed her off as fit to work after her cancer, she cannot yet re-employ
for her job.
She suffers from panic attacks, depression and has had surgery restricting
"The government have been very insensitive in their treatment of people
with cancer. The introduction of the 365 day rule - which means you get
your benefits cut off after a year, irrespective of your situation - this is
particularly bad for people who are or have been seriously ill," she said.
A DWP spokesperson said Grayling had made it clear he could not get
involved in an individual case, saying: "MPs who have concerns over
constituents' cases can raise them with the department."
Read their exchange in the Commons below:
Helen Goodman: My constituent was treated for breast cancer in July
2010. She was deemed fit for work by Atos before the post-op results were
received. The tribunal found in her favour and awarded her employment
and support allowance in January 2012. However, her ESA entitlement
was stopped in April because of the introduction of the government’s 365-
day rule. She was reassessed in May 2012 and found fit for work again.
Her employer has held her job open but cannot re-employ her until she is
deemed fit for work by her doctor. This is obviously extremely bad for her
health. Will the Minister agree to meet me about this case?
Chris Grayling: It is obviously very difficult to talk about an individual
case, and I am afraid that I make it a matter of policy that ministers do
not become involved in individual cases. What I would say is that it is
extremely important that we provide support for all cancer sufferers who
can potentially return to work to do so at the earliest opportunity. That is
much better for them than being stuck at home on benefits.
The news comes as David Cameron revealed he was mooting fresh cuts to
benefit, including housing benefit for under 25s and child benefit for
those with big families.