To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions
(1) what evidence he took into account when making the decision to limit employment and support allowance payments to one year for cancer patients;
(2) what discussions he had with representatives of Macmillan Cancer Care prior to his decision to limit employment and support allowance payments to one year for cancer patients; and if he will publish the minutes of these meetings.
As part of his spending review announcement last October my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer set out the intention to introduce a time limit of one year for those claiming contributory employment and support allowance who are placed in the Work Related Activity Group. The change requires primary legislation and is included in the Welfare Reform Bill which is currently being considered by Parliament.
Ministers have had a number of discussions with Macmillan Cancer Support since the spending review announcement, as we are determined that the benefits system should support people who are diagnosed with cancer in the most sensitive, fair and appropriate way. The Department has no interest in making it harder for those who cannot work to claim benefits and is committed to an ongoing process of review and improvement.
As part of his second Independent Review, Professor Malcolm Harrington asked Macmillan to look in detail at how the work capability assessment assesses people with cancer and to provide to him with any recommendations for further improvements.
The Department recently received these recommendations from Professor Harrington and is considering them carefully to understand whether they will improve the assessment further for individuals with cancer. The Department will come forward with any proposals shortly.