The BBC reports that thousands of cancer patients could lose their benefits under Government proposals.

The Welfare Reform Bill plans to remove Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) from claimants after a year. ESA claimants are divided into two categories; support groups and work-related activities groups. Those undergoing treatment fall into the former group and have no time-limit on their claim.

In comparison, those deemed able to perform work related activities face means-testing after claiming for 12 months. Anyone with savings of over £16,000 or whose partner either works more than 24 hours per week or earns more than £149 per week would lose their ESA.

Macmillan Cancer Support estimates that 7,000 people could lose up to £94 per week. Ciaran Devane, Chief Executive at Macmillan, said: "Many cancer patients will lose this crucial benefit simply because they have not recovered quickly enough. This proposal in the Welfare Reform Bill will have a devastating impact on many cancer patients."

Professor Jane Maher, Macmillan's Chief Medical Officer, commented: "In my experience one year is simply not long enough for many people to recover from cancer. It is crucial that patients are not forced to return to work before they are ready."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Work and Pensions said: "We are working closely with Macmillan to ensure that people with cancer get all the support from us they need."

Whilst we appreciate the need to support and encourage those who are capable of working to get back into work, we hope that the concerns raised by Macmillan Cancer Support are taken on board so that cancer patients are treated fairly and supported at what must be a very difficult time for them.