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Employment and Support Allowance

Volume 531: debated on Monday 18 July 2011

20. What estimate he has made of the number of people diagnosed with cancer who are in the work-related activity group of employment and support allowance and have claimed it for over one year. (66549)

In November 2010, the latest month for which we have figures available, there were 1,730 people receiving employment and support allowance for over one year in the work-related activity group where the primary condition was recorded as neoplasms—that is, people diagnosed with cancer.

Many cancer patients receive treatment for more than a year, and face losing their employment and support allowance while still receiving treatment. How many people receive cancer treatment for more than a year, and would therefore lose ESA under the Government’s plans?

Under the changes that we have introduced, more people suffering from cancer will be in the support group receiving ongoing unconditional support than was the case under the previous Government. The changes that we have made to contributory ESA are a direct consequence of the previous Government’s financial mismanagement. We have had to take some tough decisions on budgets, and this is one of them. We have formed the view that if people have other financial means available we cannot continue to pay them ESA indefinitely. That is a natural consequence of the failings of the hon. Gentleman’s party, not a choice we would have wished to have to make.

Will the Minister reconfirm his commitment to examine whether people on oral chemotherapies should automatically be placed in the support group, rather than in the work-related activity group as they currently are?

I am pleased to tell my hon. Friend that we have now received proposals from Macmillan Cancer Relief and Professor Harrington that contain some valuable suggestions and ideas. We have not finished our consideration, but we hope to make an announcement shortly.