Universal Credit and Cancer

I appreciate how distressing a diagnosis of cancer can be, and how cancer can affect all aspect of a patient’s life, including finances and access to benefits. It is vital that people affected by this terrible disease get the care and support they need from the healthcare and welfare systems alike.

The UK Government is rolling out Universal Credit in a gradual fashion, constantly improving the way the system works, while ensuring that nobody’s chance to benefit from Universal Credit is unduly delayed. The UK Government recognises that people with health conditions like cancer face extra challenges in navigating the Universal Credit system, and has regular meetings with groups like Macmillan Cancer Support to identify possible areas for improvement.

In 2017, the UK Government reduced the waiting time for Universal Credit from six to five weeks, and has improved the process of obtaining advance payments for those who need them – these can now be received within five working days, or on the same day in particularly urgent cases.

Moreover, for patients with a terminal illness, the UK Government is focussed on ensuring that claimants receive any eligible additional financial support as quickly as possible. Claimants with a terminal illness can take the option of receiving support from the Department for Work and Pensions with providing additional information for their claim, and this can be done by telephone or via a home visit.

In addition to Universal Credit, cancer patients with a disability may also be eligible for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), which exists to support people with long-term disabilities. People with a terminal illness are also exempt from the normal requirement that a person satisfies the disability eligibility conditions for three months before claiming PIP.