05/03/2018 12:05 GMT | Updated 05/03/2018 13:54 GMT

Cancer Is Costing People Thousands, Here's How To Get Vital Financial Support

Cancer patients lose £570 on average each month.

The majority of cancer patients (83%) are £570 worse off on average every month as a result of their diagnosis, Macmillan Cancer Support has revealed. This equates to more than £6,800 per year.

Research from the charity found the cost of cancer comes from a combination of patients being too ill to work and additional outgoings, such as paying to travel to and from hospital for appointments.

Cancer and its treatments can also leave patients feeling the cold more than usual and one in five (21%) see their yearly energy bill increase by almost £200 on average.

Macmillan is now calling on the Government to make it a legal obligation for banks to have a duty of care for vulnerable customers, such as people living with the disease, before they reach crisis point. This could include flexibility on mortgage payments, interest freezes on credit cards and loans or ensuring customers are signposted to financial help as early as possible. 

But if you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, there are some ways you can already access financial support you may not know about.

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Charity Grants

A number of local and national charities across the UK provide one-off grants to cancer patients to help cover the extra costs after their diagnosis.

Macmillan gave out a record £13.9 million in 2017 alone, with the average grant given to an individual £380. You can apply for a Macmillan Grant if you have cancer, or are still seriously affected by your illness or treatment, but both of the following must also apply:

:: You have less than £6,000 in savings if you are single, or less than £8,000 as a couple or family.
:: You have a low total income after you have paid rent, mortgage and council tax. Macmillan considers this a weekly income of £170 for a single person, £289 for a couple or household of two people, £85 for each child, and £119 for each additional adult.

Other charities you may be able to access a grant from include Marie Curie (for terminal illness), Charis grants and St James’s Place

Visit Turn2Us.org for a full list of organisations currently offering charity grants to cancer patients. 

Banking Support

Just one in nine (11%) of people with cancer tell their bank about their diagnosis. While Macmillan would like it to become a legal obligation for banks to help vulnerable people, including cancer patients, some banks do already have policies in place. 

The charity has partnered with Nationwide Buildings Society, Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland and Halifax to train staff on the financial impact of cancer. The banks have developed systems to help customers manage their money during this difficult time and cancer patients may be eligible for a mortgage payment holiday, or waived fees and account charges. 

The banks also have dedicated cancer support teams, trained by Macmillan, who can give customers extra support tailored to their individual needs, such as practical guidance on personal banking, savings, loans, and credit cards. 

If you’re a NationwideLloyds BankBank of Scotland, or Halifax customer and think you can benefit from this service, call 0808 808 00 00 or visit the banks’ websites.

If you do not bank with one of these companies, it is still worth notifying your local branch of your situation and asking if there is any way they can help. 

Help With Your Energy Bill

If cancer treatment has left you feeling colder than usual, the last thing you want is to have to worry about turning your heating on due to energy costs.

To help, Macmillan has teamed up with Npower; Npower’s Macmillan Fund offers support for eligible Npower customers who are struggling with their heating costs, like capping energy bills.

The energy company also supports Macmillan’s Energy Advice Team, which offers help and guidance for people, regardless of their energy supplier. If you’re living with cancer and struggling to pay your energy bills, visit macmillan.org.uk/keepwarm to find out how we can help.

Reduced Prescription Costs 

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do not have prescription charges, so cancer patients in these regions are not affected. 

But cancer patients in England don’t have to pay prescription charges for any medicines. This applies to people who are having treatment for:

  • cancer

  • the effects of cancer

  • the effects of current or past cancer treatment

To get free prescriptions, you can apply for a five-year prescription exemption certificate using form FP92A. You can get this from your GP or cancer clinic and it’ll need to be signed by yourself and your GP or cancer specialist. 

Subsidised Travel

The NHS Low Income Scheme helps cover travel costs for some patients travelling to and from NHS appointments. The amount of help you’re entitled to depends on your household income and outgoings. 

You can apply for support as long as they don’t have savings or investments over a certain limit. You can’t get help if you or your partner (or both) have more than: 

:: £16,000 in savings, investments or property (not including the place where you live).
:: £23,250 in savings, investments or property if you live permanently in a care home (£24,000 if you live in Wales).

The scheme also provides discounts on wigs for cancer patients. 

Government Benefits 

If the status of your health has changed, including a cancer diagnosis, you may be entitled to claim certain benefits or receive additional support from benefits you are already claiming.  

If you have been left unable to work due to cancer, you may be entitled to housing benefit, to help you cover renting costs, or disability benefit, if you have difficulty moving around or with personal care due to cancer.

Your eligibility for certain benefits will depend on various factors such as your savings and whether anyone is dependant on you, such as children. You can find out what benefits you may be entitled to by filling our Macmillan’s online benefits checker with your individual details, or calling a Macmillan welfare rights adviser on 0808 808 00 00. 

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