A CANCER sufferer who has worked all his life has blasted the Government for not giving him support when he needs it most.
Friends and family have rallied round Cotmanhay man Michael Millership since he was diagnosed in February and are planning a fundraising day for the 43-year-old this weekend.
But Michael – forced to live on a measly £65.46 a week – said he was ‘disgusted’ that because he has paid tax for most of his working life he was told he was not entitled to vital benefits that would help him during his treatment.
“It’s just disgusting that people who work most of their lives can’t get any help,” he said.
“It’s amazing that people can sit around with cans of beer at the top of town, who’ll be looked after by the Government if they’re ill, when I’ve worked all my life.”
Michael was made redundant in April last year from his job on the rail network, and had been working on a self-employed basis for Groundwork Derbyshire since then on and off. This meant he was not entitled to any sick pay.
He said: “They told me that to be eligible for disability allowance you’ve got to be sick for six months, which is ridiculous when I need help now.
“The staff said themselves, ‘we know this stinks, but that’s the way it is’. The Government treats you like a nobody.”
Michael’s benefits are set to increase by £30 a week from next week as he has been receiving them for 13 weeks.
However, if he had been receiving income support he would have been much better off from day one.
“It’s a big help,” he said. “But you need the money when you’re first diagnosed – that’s when your life turns upside down.
“I want people to realise how badly this Government treats people who have worked their whole life and then get ill.”
But a spokesman from the Department for Works and Pensions said: “The Employment and Support Allowance is paid to people who are unable to work because of illness or disability.
“Before we make any decision we consider information provided by the customer, GP and from a Work Capability Assessment. Entitlement to other benefits, such as help with hospital fares, depends on the level of family income.
“We have contacted Mr Millership to discuss his claim”
Since his diagnosis Michael has had his rent and council tax covered by benefits but, having no savings, was left to cough up for food, bills and all the costs associated with his cancer treatment out of the £65.46 he received in contributions-based benefit.
He has had two lumps removed from his neck but tests have shown the cancer is elsewhere in his body, so he is currently nearing the end of more than six weeks of daily gruelling radiotherapy at the Royal Derby Hospital.
“They don’t know how serious this is yet until I have more tests done,” he said.
“You don’t need to be worrying about money when you’re worrying about the cancer as well.”
Transport to and from the hospital involves taking three buses and has proved hard to fund, so friends and family have offered him lifts.
“It’s costing them £40 to £50 in petrol,” he said.
“But it’s not just that, it’s other things – the treatment makes you feel cold so I have to have the heating on more.
“I can’t eat certain foods so that gets expensive and it’s little things like dressing gowns – it all adds up.”
Moved by his plight, Michael’s ex-wife Vicki Millership is planning to shave her head and their 16-year-old son Billy will be waxing his legs at an event at the Trumpet Inn in Cotmanhay Road on Sunday.
Michael’s daughter’s partner Rachael Charlton has organised the event, which runs from 3pm and also features a charity raffle with prizes donated by Ilkeston businesses including Full FX Beauty, Dorothy Perkins, Evettes Hair and Wilkinsons.
Half the cash raised will be given to help Michael out while the other half will be donated to Cancer Research UK.
Michael said: “I think it’s absolutely lovely. For a woman to lose her hair must be very hard.
“I’m looking forward to a really nice day. It’s made me feel happy that there are people who care about you.”
He added: “Everyone has been fantastic at the hospital and at Littlewick Medical Centre, I can’t fault them.
“I just wish the Government would try to understand that they’ve got it wrong.”