MACMILLAN CANCER SUPPORT is urging the UK Government to ‘Pay PIP Now’ and cut distressingly long waiting times for the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) down to 12 weeks, as new data shows things going from bad to worse for the hundreds of thousands of people with cancer in need of the benefit.
New figures from the charity suggest delays with processing claims for PIP are having an increasingly negative impact on the lives of people with cancer, with more than half of people with cancer on PIP (56 per cent) reporting at least one issue with their health, wellbeing or finances while they wait to receive the financial support they’re entitled to, compared with 42 per cent in June. People are now three-quarters more likely to be struggling financially while waiting for PIP payments compared with six months ago.
Macmillan’s latest data shows:
- 42 per cent of people with cancer on PIP have had to borrow money, use their savings or have got further into debt to cover their costs while waiting to receive their payment, compared with 24 per cent in June last year.
- Almost one in three (32 per cent) people with cancer on PIP have to wait more than 12 weeks to receive their first payment, and one in four (25 per cent) have to wait more than 16 weeks — equating to more than 80,000 people with cancer in the UK.
- Those with longer waits continue to report worse impacts from waiting. The new statistics show that 60 per cent of those who wait more than 12 weeks for PIP say their physical or mental health has deteriorated while waiting, compared with 23 per cent of those who wait 12 weeks or less. This means that those who wait more than 12 weeks for their payments to start are more than twice as likely to have seen their health deteriorate than those who experienced shorter waits
- In addition, 55 per cent of those who wait more than 12 weeks for PIP have had to borrow money, use savings or get further into debt, compared with 40 per cent of those who wait 12 weeks or less
- Each week a person’s PIP claim is delayed, those affected can miss out on up to £156.90. This means missing out on more than £2,500 over a 16-week wait
- While delayed payments are backdated, the financial impact of cancer is often sudden and unexpected with further research from Macmillan showing that 83 per cent of people with cancer in the UK experience some kind of financial impact from their diagnosis, and for those affected, this reaches an average of £891 a month, on top of their usual expenditure.
- In the last six months, the welfare rights team on the Macmillan Support Line have answered more than 25,000 calls from people in need of support, accounting for almost one in four telephone queries answered by the Support Line during this time.
The charity is urgently calling for the UK Government to take faster action to reduce PIP delays, and is asking people to sign a petition calling on the Government to cut the 16-week average waiting time for all PIP claimants down to 12 weeks.
Steven McIntosh, Executive Director of Advocacy and Communications at Macmillan, says: “We’re hearing from more and more people about the devastating impact PIP delays are having, with many being forced into debt and seeing their health and wellbeing suffer as they wait for the vital support they need. This is unacceptable; people with cancer deserve to live well, not just survive.
“This is now a critical situation, and the UK Government needs to go further and faster to reduce the long waiting times with a clear plan that will ensure people with cancer get the support they deserve, when they need it the most.”
Chris Jones, Energy Team Leader on the Support Line at Macmillan Cancer Support, says: “On top of the existing financial burden a cancer diagnosis can bring, and the huge impact of the cost-of-living crisis, it’s unthinkable that people are having to wait so long to receive the support they desperately need.
“We’re hearing from people waiting for PIP who are more worried about whether they can afford to live than they are their health, as they are forced into debt, into to skipping meals and delaying or cancelling medical appointments due to travel costs which is simply unacceptable.
“We’re urging anyone worried about money to contact the free support available from Macmillan. We are here to make sure people get the help they need and deserve.”
Anyone affected by cancer who is worried about money can contact Macmillan’s financial support teams on 0808 808 00 00, free of charge, seven days a week. Peer-to-peer support is also available 24 hours a day via the charity’s Online Community and more information about the support available can be found on the Macmillan website.
* Sign the petition here.
* Access the Macmillan Online Community here.
* Source: Macmillan Cancer Support