“Millions of cancer carers missing out on benefits“
I shall overlook, on this occasion, the oxymoron of the Telegraph headline – they go on to say that 5% of the 1.1 million cancer sufferers in the UK ARE claiming benefits, which leaves just a shade over one million – not “millions’ who are not claiming.
No, what has really got my goat, on a subject which is close to my heart, was the conclusion which has been drawn from MacMillan’s survey.
The figures could explain why 46 per cent of carers, who help cancer sufferers by administering medication, assisting around the house and offering emotional support, suffer from mental health problems including stress, anxiety and depression, the charity said.
I’m all for MacMillan helping those in financial need to access the complicated benefits system, which after all, only provides the magnificent sum of £55.55 a week (providing you are not already in receipt of a pension or other income….) but to suggest that all the stress, anxiety and depression of caring for someone you love who happens to be suffering from cancer will magically disappear if you just sign up to be a paid State employee ‘doing a job’ is madness.
Apparently, if I was in the UK, I would automatically qualify for weekly DLA of £129.45 and £55.55 for Mr G – irrespective of my financial circumstances – i.e. whether I actually needed that money or not! – and Macmillan think I should be claiming it.
The key problem, Macmillan said, could be that only four in ten people who look after cancer sufferers identify themselves as “carers”, meaning they may be unaware of the support they are entitled to, or reluctant to claim it.
Or put another way – 6 out of 10 people are quietly getting on with looking after someone they care for without bothering to find out about their ‘entitlement’ to turn their act of love into a job as a State drone. That is not to denigrate those who need the financial support, they deserve all the help they can get – and they are likely to get far more help if Macmillan don’t drain the national handbag by putting forward the theory that failing to ask for financial help that they don’t need is somehow the key to avoiding the perfectly natural anxiety and depression that comes from watching someone you care about go through Hell.
Cancer is a terrifying illness; partly because of its historic reputation as the harbinger of a slow and painful death. It is not death most of us fear, I certainly don’t – but dying. Cancer itself is a relatively natural occurrence, the bodies response to certain stimuli. It has always been around, probably always will be. We may be able to cure some cancers, we are unlikely to eradicate its occurrence altogether.
Quite why the State has chosen to award Cancer special financial status in this way – almost a case of ‘whoopee, you’ve hit the jackpot, pass Go and collect your bonus’ is hard to ascertain. Why Macmillan would want to remove probably the only consolation available to anyone with cancer – the knowledge that their last months will be made tolerable by the presence of someone who will put up with all the vomit, crap, and tears simply because they love you and are acting from the heart with a person who is merely carrying out their duty and collecting their ‘entitlement’ is a total mystery.
Macmillan should stick to what they do best – counselling those who need it, supporting those who need it, and leave the social engineering of stubbing out family values and replacing them with State entitlements to the Fabians.