Mphango shares why she backs the Safe Sick Pay campaign

Many young cancer patients are at the beginning of their career when they are given the news they have cancer. Often they will have to stop working to get through treatment and those first, exciting pay-checks can turn into the bare minimum of Statutory Sick Pay, which doesn’t always cover the basics such as rent.

Alongside the Centre for Progressive Change, and partner charities, we are calling for reform of the Statutory Sick Pay System. 

Mphango shares how her life was impacted when her cancer diagnosis at aged 24 meant she had to rely on low rates of sick pay, and why she believes reform of the sick pay system is needed now: 

Mphango was diagnosed with cancer at just 24 years old

“In October 2022, fuelled by excitement and anticipation, I had planned to move to London with my best friend from Bradford to start a new chapter filled with adventures and opportunities. However, just as I was settling into my new job, I received a cancer diagnosis that led to me being placed on sick pay just two months later. My monthly income plummeted from £1700 to approximately £464. This financial strain persisted until I was unfortunately made redundant in August. Despite this, my medical treatment continues, and I’ve been advised not to return to work for at least a year to aid my recovery. Even had I remained employed, my sick pay would have been terminated in accordance with their policy. 

“Navigating this period was particularly challenging due to complications with Universal Credit (UC) covering my rent payments initially. This delay in accessing my full UC entitlement meant my sole income was the meagre sick pay, which proved insufficient, especially given the high cost of living in London. I found myself relying heavily on the support of my community to cover essential living expenses and rent. 

“A more equitable sick pay system would offer payments to keep up with the cost of living, with better support for staying in, or returning to their employment. It’s unfair to penalize someone financially for falling ill; after all, a diagnosis is beyond their control. Such a system would alleviate financial stress during an already challenging time, allowing individuals to focus on their recovery without the added burden of financial instability.”

Alongside the Centre for Progressive Change, and partner charities, Young Lives vs Cancer is calling for reform of the Statutory Sick Pay System, including: 

  • Increasing Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), In line with a worker’s wages up to the living wage – Statutory Sick Pay is currently at £116.75 a week  
  • Making SSP payable from the first day of sickness- currently it is only paid from day 4 
  • Abolishing the earnings threshold for SSP, meaning people on the lowest wages can access sick pay 
  • Ensuring benefits such as Personal Independence Payments and Universal Credit, are sufficient and available as soon as possible at the point of need beyond SSP  

Author: Emma

Posted on Tuesday 23 April 2024

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