‘I have to choose between cancer treatment or work’

After being diagnosed with blood cancer, Paul Swain was told his illness ‘doesn’t affect’ his life enough to receive benefits.

Paul Swain says he has to ‘choose between cancer treatment or work’ after the DWP removed his benefits Joanne Davidson via Supplied
Paul Swain is currently undergoing ten months of chemotherapy.

The family of a cancer sufferer has hit out at the Department of Work and Pensions after being told the illness “doesn’t affect” his life enough to receive benefits.

Paul Swain, from Haddington, East Lothian, was diagnosed with incurable blood cancer, multiple myeloma, in February 2021, which has since spread to his kidney and bowel.

The 55-year-old is currently undergoing ten months of chemotherapy in the hopes it will “give him some more time”.

After being told by hospital staff that he could not return to work because of the condition, the self-employed cleaner looked to take out employment benefits as he underwent treatment.

“It is heart-breaking to know my dad has been treated like this when he so desperately needs help.”

Joanne Davidson, Paul’s daughter

Paul’s daughter, Joanne, said that her father was refused any financial help from the department after being told he was still able to “make himself food and drinks” and “spend time with grandkids”.

She told STV News: “My dad is a self-employed cleaner but isn’t working as he just isn’t physically able to.

“My dad had just gone through 20 sessions of radical radiotherapy at this time when they said he wasn’t entitled, and he worked part-time through this treatment to pay bills and was very ill.

“He was told that because he was able to still do things like make himself food and drinks, spend time with his grandkids – that he didn’t need any help.

“This was appealed but the decision was upheld.

“It is heart-breaking to know my dad has been treated like this when he so desperately needs help.

“His cancer has spread to his kidney and bowel and he is currently going through 10 months of chemotherapy, not to cure this but to manage it and hopefully to give him some more time.”

Paul’s family has now launched a petition to fast-track an Adult Disability Payment (ADP), which would allow people with a cancer diagnosis to receive benefits while they are undergoing treatment.

“I am unable to help them financially and, as their daughter, this is destroying me inside.”

Joanne Davidson, Paul’s daughter

“My mum started a petition to the government to try get things changed,” Joanne said.

“We want to highlight the fact that many cancer sufferers are going through the same thing as my dad.

“We believe that if people undergo radio or chemotherapy and it does affect their lives, as it’s very intrusive treatment, they should get benefits.”

Joanne has also launched a fundraiser in the hope of helping her parents who she said are having difficulty affording the costs of living.

She said: “I have set up the GoFundMe me just to try get them a little bit of help as they are struggling financially with dad not being able to work.

“I am unable to help them financially and, as their daughter, this is destroying me inside.

“This was the only way I could try get them some help and we are so thankful for all the donations we have received.”

Kenny MacAskill, East Lothian MP, said: “This is disgraceful, but sadly becoming all too common.

“The Welfare State was established to provide for those most vulnerable.

“Now it’s becoming institutionalised cruelty as it was dubbed by Ken Loach. In a time of crisis citizens should be helped, not jettisoned.”

The Department of Work and Pensions has been contacted for comment.

You can donate to Paul’s GoFundMe here.