Man With Cancer Told To Give Up Treatment and Join Work Programme To Keep Benefits

A Scunthorpe man has received a 40% cut in benefits after he was diagnosed with cancer, leaving him in serious financial distress during his battle with a disease that killed his father and brother.  To add insult the injury, the DWP told him that he could return to his previous level of benefits, provided he gave up treatment and complied with the Jobseeker’s programme.

The Tale of Pete Woodcock

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The internet has been buzzing with outrage over the DWP’s treatment of Pete Woodcock, together with a disgraceful level of judgement that Mike Sivier highlights with his usual elegance over at Vox Political.

Pete has been unemployed for eight years, but volunteers 40 hours each week in his community.  When he was diagnosed with cancer he needed to stop attending his jobs club and cut back on volunteering to accommodate his treatment and necessary respite.  The DWP’s response was to slash his benefits by 40% as he moved from Jobseeker benefits, to sickness benefits.  He told the Scunthorpe Telegraph:

“I have just lately been diagnosed with cancer. I’ve had numerous hospital visits on both sides of the Humber and because of my hospital visits been unable to attend job clubs. Hence I had to sign on sickness pay.”

“When a person has cancer the last thing a person needs to worry about is finances but I now have to look after my family, pay bills and finance my trips to hospitals on less than £100 per week.”

Here is a man who has found himself unable to gain paid employment, but who is clearly a contribution to his community – volunteering for more hours than some people are required to work, for the pittance of £140 a week.  He is diagnosed with a terminal illness, and instead of support he receives another major concern to add to his list.

The knuckle-dragging level of emotional intelligence by the DWP is startling enough, but one line of the story in the Telegraph knocked the wind right out of me.  Pete says:

“The DWP even told me that if I went back on to jobseekers and gave up my treatment I could go back on to £140 per week to live on.”

I’m going to give you a moment to read that line again.  Now again.  Now let it sink in.

If he gives up his cancer treatment and continues attending jobs club…resulting in his almost certain death…he can have £140 week. This is the kind of bureaucratic evil for which this government is becoming synonymous.

The Tragedy of ‘Help to Work’

A006 - CopyThe government insists its work programmes are all about human dignity, when in reality they are about stripping people of their dignity, their self-respect and any lingering concept of the social contract.  Remember the social contract? This government (and New Labour before it, in its own quiet way) is tearing it up and throwing it in the faces of those who rely on it most.

Here are some of the people I am talking about.

Linda Wootton, 49, was on 10 medications a day after a double lung and heart transplant.  She was weak and suffered regular bouts of blackouts.  She was put through the Atos Work Capability Assessment and as she lay in a hospital bed dying, she received confirmation she was ‘fit to work’.  She died just nine days later.  Her husband Peter said:

“I sat there and listened to my wife drown in her own bodily fluids. It took half an hour for her to die; a woman who is apparently fit for work”.

Brian McArdle, 57, had been left paralysed down one side, blind in one eye, unable to speak properly and barely able to eat and dress himself after a stroke on Boxing Day 2011. Despite this, he was deemed ‘fit to work’ by Atos.  He died of a heart attack the day after his benefit payments were stopped.  His thirteen year old son Kieran told the Daily Record:

“Even though my dad had another stroke just days before his assessment, he was determined to go…He tried his best to walk and talk because he was a very proud man, but even an idiot could have seen my dad wasn’t fit for work.

Colin Traynor, 29, suffered from epilepsy.  He was deemed ‘fit for work’ by Atos and forced to enter a lengthy, bureaucratic process to appeal the decision – during which his benefits would be frozen.  He did not live to see the result of his appeal.  Five weeks after his death, his family received the news that his appeal was successful.  Too late for Colin.  His father Ray said:

“I firmly believe – 100% believe – that the system this government introduced has killed my son.”

The government canned Atos this year, but the truth is – Atos was the attack dog, the government is holding the leash and giving the orders.

In recent weeks the government has rolled out yet another wave of sanctions and rules for those on welfare. all based on the premise that this group are a bunch of scroungers to be kept under strict supervision and bullied out of their feckless ways. If you’re in any doubt, when Osborne launched the programme in September last year, he promised that the long term unemployed “were not going to be able to do nothing” for their benefits.
Osborne was talking about men like Pete Woodcock.  Osborne and IDS will pay Pete an extra £40 a week to give up his cancer treatment and return to the ‘Help to Work’ scheme.  So what does this scheme involve?
In order to continue to receive benefits, Pete and others must accept a community work placement, such as making meals for the elderly; to visit a Job Centre every day; or to take part in further training. Anyone who refuses will lose a month’s worth of benefits. If they refuse again, they could lose three months of benefits. Never mind these people could be engaged in volunteer work, or the cost of travel to their nearest office, or conditions of physical or mental illness that might make such conditions hard to fulfill.
All this, and yet the DWP’s own figures show a fraudulent claim rate of just 0.7%.
It’s not Help To Work, it’s Bully to Work, and to hell with the consequences.
This is What Revolution Looks Like
More than the actions themselves, the culture this government is creating is truly insidious.  This paranoid, bean-counting, ‘they’re out to get us’ hostility to those in need is un-necessary and uncivilized.  It’s mean, petty and vindictive – and when manifested by those who have been gifted their wealth and position in society through luck of birth, it is down-right hypocrisy.
So if you want to revolt against this government in the most meaningful way – maintain and expand your compassion.  Refuse to follow Tory, Labour, Lib Dem or UKIP narratives about workers vs shirkers, or benefit tourism, or benefit scroungers.
If you want to take on the vested interests in this country, you start at the top.  Kicking the proverbial shit out of the sick, the elderly, the unemployed, or those fleeing persecution or poverty abroad doesn’t make you alternative.  It makes you complicit in the most conservative, established, mainstream ideology in the world – it makes you a bigot and a coward.
But standing before a wave of propaganda teaching you to judge, and even hate…and maintaining the civilized human being in you, that takes something.
Keep your eye on the government corruption, the public money floating into private pockets, the fraudulent banking system that  creates poverty – and the social, economic and political structures that make it all possible – keep pointing at the Emperor and shouting ‘You’re naked!’ until everyone else listens.
Do not support them with your purchasing choices, your political mandate (vote) or your daily interactions and conversations.
Participate and/or actively support every strike, protest, direct action, community project and initiative you can.  We can build a better country, and a better world.  But your participation is required.
Don’t get angry, get involved!
Join the Call 999 For the NHS March – Starting 16th August in Jarrow, people from all across the country will recreate the Jarrow march to London in support of the NHS.  You can march, or help create a media storm and a big welcome in your town.
People’s Assembly Against Austerity – keep up to speed on all direct actions, strikes, protests and learning/community events in your area – and participate!

230 thoughts on “Man With Cancer Told To Give Up Treatment and Join Work Programme To Keep Benefits

  1. They are now playing with fire, they think starving people into work is a good plan. They need to be careful, there is a level below which people will not tolerate and they will act. We have just reached it. the recent additional cuts in benefits will tip many over the edge. Food money is already being used to top up the disgraceful shortfall in rent payments and I’m not talking about the silly rents bandied about in the media. What on earth do they expect people to do? Work 24/7 till 77 should be their new slogan. After 39 years of paying into this system I was made redundant last year. I receive no benefits at all. I will soon be homeless at the age of 55. All because I have allowed my ex and my disabled son continue to live at the marital home! I’m expected to make them homeless by forcing its sale before I can apply for help. Financially I’m ruined, and being over 50 now seems to exclude me from decent employment despite great skills and experience and applying for hundreds of positions. Well I for one will not dance to their tune and take work for a pittance that means impoverishment till I die. I will survive somehow and there are worse off than me. I at least have my health for the moment but that is in decline now.
    A society without hope is a dangerous one, controlling the masses can be a very fine line, they just crossed it.
    May this society see sense and quickly. The unemployed, disabled and low paid are not the cause of this country’s ills. Greed and unfairness is and will be its undoing.

  2. Totally agree that if Pete has been treated the way this article describes then that is appalling and is indicative of the outbursts by some MPs telling them to f off and die.
    I was with this article until it started promoting benefits tourism, ie. People coming to the UK for the benefits they can get.
    Benefits tourism is despicable and is a drain on our already depleted resources. Why should the UK give benefit tourists anything when it can’t even give its’ own pensioners a half decent living allowance.
    Benefit tourist drain the UK of its’ economy by sending money to other countries, it has to stop.

  3. Hi i saw a programme on how the council spends it’s money (LOBO) banks are lending local councils money to build schools ect then charging high interest rates also the banks have something called inverted interest which means if the interest goes down else where in the economy the council interest goes up very high this needs to be stopped and the money the banks receive from the council in very high interest can be used to support those who are in need which will also help – please check this out as it’s another way to stop those people taking from those in most need – big one off payment for doing a job -bank bonuses etc…..

  4. It remains to be seen whether Maximus will prove any better than ATOS, whose despicable track record shames our country and its government.
    ATOS was responsible for countless deaths during its contract with our government and there should have been criminal investigations into many of those cases.

  5. The point is , and now that the election is done it is being said out loud here and there, the owning class is taking back what they see as rightfully theirs (that is all of it.). They had to give up some after World war II but now it is up for grabs again. It reminds me of how the rural population was forced into the cities to work in the Industrial Revolution and made to live in horrendous conditions. They died like flies and were demonized as immoral ,lazy drunken , breeding , sub humans. After some “reform” the only help for them were workhouses and debtors’ prisons. We are seeing the same thing now updated somewhat. Meanwhile the people watch football and Strictly Dancing . Maybe the diminishment of the slightly less conservative Labour Party will lead to something , who knows? What will it take for the mass of people to exert their power?

  6. They have to go ! Why are they so insistent on killing the genuine sick? I think this government should all be assessed by a professional psychologist as they have serious mental health issues to want to do this to people.

  7. My husband found out he’s got cml. Chronic myloid leukimeia. He d been working full time with it. Going to the docs with flu symptoms and nose bleeds for 5 months. The doc just kept giving him antibiotics. We insisted on a blood test after 5 months of the same treatment from the doc. He’s recieving treatment. While he was having chemo snd lumber punches and more chemo and different meds he was
    On the sick. His sick pay ran out. We went to the dhss and was told because our two eldest sons work we couldn’t claim anything. One son works 18 hours a week. The other ones on a zero hour contract. Some weeks he doesn’t work any hours. So we had no money with a 13 year old child to feed and house. We got behind with all our bills. My husband has worked since he was 16 he’s
    Paid taxes 34 years and the first time he’s ever asked for help we got told no. There’s to muvh money going in to your home. So my husband said to the woman. So when I m back at work. I don’t have to pay taxes no more cos there’s too muck money coming into my house?? I have neighbours that’s never worked a day in there life. They drink all day. Smoke. Go abroad twice a year. We work and the first time we ask for help we get told no. The systems all wrong. It used to be if you paid into the system you got help. Now you get it all and don’t oay spent into society. I really am pissed off. As my husband is working full time as a coal miner with cml the doctors tell him he shouldn’t be working.

  8. They always seem to get it massively wrong. Look at what happens when abused children die they go completely opposite and take what they deem at risk children from innocent families. And when the csa went after absent fathers and went completely over the top and caused suicides. Now they’re going after people who are genuinely in need. Why can they never strike a healthy balance. Yes there are many who take the proverbial but you can’t tar everyone with the same brush

  9. I have All glowing Spondulitis an autoimmune disease. I am in constant pain and my spine is fusing so I now have a very painful hump. I also have Fibromyalgia which on top of my AS pain sees me up most nights unable to sleep so I am exhausted to boot. I have worked all my life I’m 50 in July. I got Made redundant in Feb 2013 and couldn’t find paid employment I had just been diagnosed6 months before. The job centre saw that I was unfit for work so put me on ESA my jobseekers money had just run out. I was paid for a year with ESA but I hadn’t received an assessment. 1 month after my ESA ran out I was sent for my assessment. Which I failed. They tricked me into walking upstairs at my assessment and as I was worried how long it would take for another appointment I climbed those stairs in agony while being watched on cctv and because it I did it even though I said I wanted to make a formal complaint they said I was fit for work. Thanks Atos.

  10. Pingback: Four Conservative Policies Which Attack Your Human Rights | The Common Green

  11. The government’s back to work scheme is a joke. They said that no one would be worse of working than on benefits. A friend of mine has long term medical and mental health issues and has recently been diagnosed with arthritis and has just been pushed back to work by the DWP. They even contacted his doctor to tell him not to issue any more medical certificates.

    And what have they made this man with arthritis do? He is working as a gardener. The first week he worked for 25 hours (unpaid) digging in baked earth none stop. His knees and hands were swollen like balloons. He was then taken on by the employer at 16 hours a week, and assured by DWP that he would be able to claim Working Tax Credits. We all know that you have to work 30 hours a week to claim this benefit.

    He is earning £2 a week more than he was receiving in benefits. “So what? That’s OK” I hear you say. Well yes he is getting more for working. However, he has had to inform Housing Benefits that he is working and they have know said that he has to contribute £25 per week towards his rent.

    As I said the back to work scheme is a joke. In this particular instance the place where my friend is working has employed a number of people on 16 hour contracts. If you are going to put people in work at least give them decent hours. This is just a way of getting people of benefits and taking them out of the unemployed figures whilst putting them below the poverty line. SHAME ON THEM.

  12. ian dunkin smith should be put on trial for murder of ppl who have took their own life s because of what he has put them throu these r vanorible x ill x sick x disabled ppl that have suffer x who r suffering because of his stupidpidity by making ppl suffer …this goverment is making cuts but where is the money going because its not going back into the system ….this PM & MP.s need to make cuts to their own kind as they r getting far to much pay for doing nothing themselves ….what do they actually do really ..apart from dinner funtions x getting a showfer driving them around everywhere….not being funny but they dont do hard graft like ppl on next to no pay x if any off them or their family members r ill its all over the news for weeks ….wtf

  13. It’s not fair that that they fdo this Evans a littles help 16 -18 wait wait for pip assessments, I wked from 16 t jab this yr age 32 had a Brian stem stroke heart attack and ha s 6 to 9 fits a day still honing I can go back one day no. Help it scrubs

  14. My dad was diagnosed with cancer at Xmas and was on job seekers, withing 2 weeks the macmillan nurses changed and applied for all his benefits and because he had cancer was instantly given high rate disability/incapacity benifit. There are other forms of help out there unfortunately it is not advertised. Sadly my dad passed away in February x

  15. I have terminal secondary breast cancer to the brain and lungs. I been on chemo for just over two years. I struggle with day to day living as it is. After treatment it takes a few days to start feeling better. Your told on treatment not to go where it’s busy in case of catching anything that can affect your treatment!!! You need target people who have 7+ kids and have more so they don’t have go work!!! Stop letting foreign people coming over !! You could stop having all these pay rises and put it back !!! Why make people like me and others stop treatment that will end our lives early!!!

  16. Pingback: ‘My benefits were cut by 40% when I got cancer’ | Benefit tales

  17. This is atrocious .one is now assessed like sheep in a pen .every individual is different .I despair of a system that rewards drug addicts and alcoholics with their poison but individuald who are genuine are penalised .disgusted beyond belief. N

  18. Government should be ashamed the dirty horrible twats wish they would all fuck right off this poor man has the worst illeness ever fingers crossed he gets better SHOOT David Cameron in his fuckin head the twat ( good luck with everythink mate)

  19. My husband has cancer he has a job but he’s now on sick pay which is less than Peter Woodcock gets, he also has a family to support, how come a person working gets less when they’re sick than someone who’s getting benefits ! Somethings not right !

    • No something is not right, but you should be blaming the company your husband works for not the person who has been made redundant through no fault of there own and are having to live on such a pittance even though they have contributed to the system through taxes when they did work, or maybe blame the politicians who thing it’s ok that job seekers allowance is £80 a week when they are claiming a £100 just for food, this is just for food mind you, they do not have to show receipts to get this money, £80 is supposed to cover food and bills for the poor people but that doesn’t concern them, I am speaking as a person who claims no benefits and who’s husband has a well paid job but I bloody well care, the trouble with this country is if your life isn’t perfect you don’t blame the person directly responsible like your employer who doesn’t pay you enough, or the government who lets them get away with it at the same time as letting big business walk all over the little person you blame the poorest and most vulnerable is society and it’s wrong

  20. If you have been diagnosed with Cancer and you need treatment to help try and maintain extra years to your life you should not have to be put through all this excess stress. You should be treated with humane dignity and continue with any benefits that you have been claiming. If the DWP requires a form to be filled in by the hospital to verify that it is cancer that should suffice. How can anyone with cancer be treated like this.

  21. I had to go in front of a judge. In a court which made me ill. Just to appeal their decision. It was awful and degrading. I never been to court ,let alone face a judge. I think it’s disgraceful what this government is doing. Making disabled people go through such humiliation. There should be a law against what they are doing.

  22. I had to go in front of a judge. In a court which made me ill. Just to appeal their decision. It was awful and degrading. I never been to court ,let alone face a judge. I think it’s disgraceful what this government is doing. Making disabled people go through such humiliation. There should be a law against what they are doing.

  23. How can you send someone to a work program that as been told by there doctor there unfit surly they can’t be sent out to do work, do the government have insurance in place of an accident as a doctors says ur unfit yet the government says ur fit you would never be able to claim compensation if you were to have an accident at a work place they have sent you to, as ur doctor as said ur not fit for work

  24. I honestly don’t even know how people can take the piss out of the system if they tried!! People don’t live on benefits they exist ‘ it’s not like people are having the time of there lives ‘ while Existing!! All these people who create and change the laws about benefits should ‘ try and walk a mile in some of thes peoples shoes ‘ before they play Russian Roulette with people’s Lives!!!

  25. Right now I am so angry.this needs to be published world wide. I can now understand why the British government want to do away with Human right. Any of these cases reported to Strasbourg Mr cameron w j o be in a pile of ….this is a total disgrace. I am filing this away for my own refetence

  26. I wish it was a perfect world, where everyone had what they needed. But this is the real world, so you better count your blessings and send the needy a couple bucks every month!

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