Iain Duncan Smith The alliance of cancer charities has voiced its fears to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith
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A group of 30 charities has written to the government expressing concern that planned welfare changes could push some people with cancer into poverty.
The Welfare Reform Bill gets its second reading in the Commons on Wednesday.
The charities voiced fears about delays in awarding the benefit, which replaces disability living allowance, and over withdrawal of other benefits.
The Department for Work and Pensions said it was "protecting those who need the most help".
The charities' open letter to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has been published in the Guardian.
The signatories wrote: "We are extremely concerned that changes to disability benefits will mean that a significant number of people with cancer will be left without vital financial support at a time when they need it the most.
"We would like to work with you to make sure this government's welfare reforms do not have the very undesirable consequence of pushing some people with cancer into poverty."
They told Mr Duncan Smith they welcomed proposals to "simplify a system that is currently confusing and bureaucratic" and to make "the transition from benefits to work easier".
However, the charities said they were "very concerned" that people with cancer would have to wait six months before they could claim the new personal independence payment (PIP), which replaces the disability living allowance (DLA).
They also said they were worried about plans in the bill to withdraw employment support allowance (ESA) from some cancer patients after a year.
'Make ends meet'
Their letter said: "The majority of people with cancer who are out of work want to return to work.
"It can represent a milestone in their recovery and a return to normality, in addition to the obvious financial benefits.
"We believe that this proposal, rather than creating an incentive to work, will lead to many cancer patients losing their ESA simply because they have not recovered quickly enough."
The charities told the work and pensions secretary that people with cancer were very worried about how the bill would affect them.
"Living with cancer is expensive and many people rely on benefits to make ends meet," they said.
The charities signing the letter include Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, Marie Curie Cancer Care and the Teenage Cancer Trust.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said it had accepted the conclusions of a review of the ESA system by Professor Malcolm Harrington.
A DWP spokesman said: "We are changing the welfare system because in its current state it's not working. In all our changes we are protecting those who need the most help. "
Changes to the benefits system outlined in the bill include a single universal credit to replace six income-related work-based benefits from 2013.
There will also be an annual benefit cap of about £26,000 per family, and those refusing to work face a loss of benefits for up to three years.
Prime Minister David Cameron has said the changes would "make work pay for some of the poorest people in our society".
Meanwhile, a report from the think tank Demos suggests that British workers are among the worst protected among 12 developed nations in terms of benefits if they are off work sick.
A measure of the level of protection employees have in the case of ill health from both the state and private sector placed the UK in eighth place, below nations including France, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada and the US.
Demos says that middle earners are more vulnerable to the financial difficulties if they are made unemployed.
Its report says savers and homeowners were being "penalised" by means testing for savings above £16,000 if they were off work ill and is calling for an exemption for the first six months of unemployment to "soften the blow".
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Date d'inscription : 09/03/2011
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