Cancer charity backs benefits shift by GlynnePowell


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Cancer charity backs benefits shift
17th September 2012

Patients receiving treatment for cancer will no longer
be forced to seek work if they want to keep sickness
benefits, the Government has announced.

Ministers are to end a distinction which meant those
getting oral forms of chemotherapy and radiotherapy
could be placed in categories that required them to
make efforts to return to work.

The move is part of the official response to a review of
controversial fit-to-work assessments and was
welcomed by Macmillan Cancer Support, which led
protests against the split.

Employment minister Mark Hoban, who announced the move in a Commons
written ministerial statement, said: "Treatment for cancer is changing and we
need to reflect this in the benefits system. These changes will improve the way
people with cancer are assessed and will result in more people with cancer
getting the financial support they need.

"We have listened to cancer charities, and people suffering from cancer, and I
am very pleased we can play our part in reducing the burden on people during
what everyone knows is a particularly difficult time."

It was one of several "considerable improvements" already made to the
controversial work capability assessment system as a result of the Harrington
Review, he said.

Professor Malcolm Harrington, a leading occupational therapist, was appointed
as the independent reviewer of the work capability assessment procedure but
announced earlier this year that he was leaving the role.
Macmillan director of policy Mike Hobday said the charity would maintain the
pressure to ensure the proposed changes were put into effect.

"We welcome the Government's announcement that more cancer patients will
avoid having to face stressful medical assessments or back-to-work interviews
while experiencing the effects of gruelling treatments," he said.

"Macmillan campaigned vigorously for greater protection for cancer patients
who are too sick to work. We are delighted the Government has listened. As
the response makes clear, there is still work to be done to ensure these
commitments become a reality. We look forward to continuing to work with the
Government to implement these important changes."

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