Martin Whitfield MSP has welcomed a Scottish Parliament committee’s positive response to a petition presented to it by Haddington resident Wendy Swain.

Mr Whitfield attended the Civic Participation and Public Petitions Committee to speak in support of Mrs Swain’s petition, which calls for applications to the new Adult Disability Payment (ADP), which will replace Personal Independence Payment (PIP), to be fast tracked for those with a cancer diagnosis.

Currently, many people who are undergoing cancer treatment, including Wendy’s husband Paul, face long waits for their PIP to come through, if they even get it all. Some people are having to wait up to 20 weeks before their payments begin, forcing some to go back to work when they should not.

Mrs Swain’s petition urges the Scottish Government to make sure that people with a cancer diagnosis will have their applications for Adult Disability Payment (which replaces PIP next year) fast-tracked and for a separate department to deal with their applications.

Members of the cross-party Committee, which considers all public petitions presented to parliament, expressed sympathy for the petition’s aims and agreed to keep it open and consult further with charities and the Scottish Government.

Martin Whitfield MSP said:

“I have supported Wendy’s petition from the outset because I agree that people undergoing cancer treatment have a right to be treated with dignity, fairness and respect. They are desperate for support when they need it the most, but very often face barriers to accessing that support.

“The devolution of many aspects of the welfare system and the establishment of Social Security Scotland provides an opportunity to do things in a more caring and people-centred way. That approach was clearly reflected in the Committee’s response to the petition and its decision to take further evidence on what Wendy is calling for.

“I will continue to support this petition and Wendy’s campaign to secure a fairer approach for everyone dealing with a cancer diagnosis when they seek support from the social security system.”

Commenting on her campaign, Wendy Swain said:

“Currently people like my husband Paul and many others who are going through gruelling cancer treatment are still awaiting their PIP payments. I feel that they’re being treated appallingly, and I want to do something about it.

“Going through cancer treatment is stressful enough without having to be worrying about how to pay your bills, keep a roof over your head and if you have enough for your next meal. I know of people who are being forced back to work when they shouldn’t be.

“The current system administered by Department for Work & Pensions for PIP payments treats people with very little dignity or respect. You are left hanging on the phone and when they say they will get back to you they don’t. This is no way to treat people who are dealing with cancer.”

The full petition reads as follows:

PE1913: Fast-track future Adult Disability Payment applications for people undergoing cancer treatment 

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to create a separate department within Social Security Scotland that will fast track future Adult Disability Payment (ADP) applications for people with a cancer diagnosis whilst they are undergoing treatment.