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If you or a loved one is undergoing treatment for head and neck cancer it can have a big impact on your finances. There are several reasons that finances can become stretched and harder to manage during treatment.
WHY IS CANCER SO EXPENSIVE?
There are several factors which can make it a struggle financially when undergoing cancer treatment. Here are a few of the main reasons which can stretch your budget:
Time off work – if you or a loved one is undergoing treatment there is a high chance that you will need to take some time off work. This can mean a reduction in your income.
Transport costs – regular trips to hospitals can add up: parking costs, petrol, public transport tickets can stretch your budget.
Fuel Poverty – this means patients paying increased costs for heating in their homes. Patients will often feel the cold more than they normally would when undergoing treatment. Increased use of heating can increase the bills.
Medical costs – the majority of treatment will not require payment but there can be costs for additional medicines or treatments.
These are some of the factors which can put a strain on your finances and that in turn can make you stressed and anxious. Try not to worry too much though, there are lots of organisations which are able to offer support. There is financial support available from the government here in the UK, and there are also organisations which can offer grants, free financial advise and budgeting help too. We will give an overview of the help out there and links to their resources.
Check with your employer and the terms of your contract to see what you are entitled to – the minimum you are entitled to is called Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
This applies if you have made National Insurance Contributions and your employer has to pay you this as a minimum. At the moment it is fixed at £85.85 per week. There are some restrictions which will vary from person to person. The maximum length of time this can be claimed is 28 weeks.
Your employer can use this calculator to work out if they are liable for SSP and they can also get information on how to recover the money.
GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE IN THE UK
There are other ways which the Government can support people going through cancer treatment. Here is an overview of the different benefits which are available:
Employment and Support Allowance – this can be claimed by people who have a limited capability for work or are unable to work at all. The exact amount that a person receives depends on their income, their assets and their capital. When a benefit alters depending on how much money you have already, this is called Means Testing.
Disability Living Allowance – this is for people under 65 whose treatment or medical condition makes walking difficult. The Disability Living Allowance is being stopped in April 2013 and will be replaced by Personal Independence Payment.
Attendance Allowance – this is for people who are over 65 and require assistance looking after themselves: washing, preparing meals and so on.
You can find a benefit calculator here. As the benefits system is undergoing a lot of changes at the moment, it is always advisable to seek out experienced advisers who can give the most up to date information on what people are entitled to and how to claim benefit.
NON GOVERNMENT ADVICE AND SUPPORT
Here are some useful services who offer free assistance in claiming benefits:
- The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) – there are dedicated staff who can help you negotiate the Benefits System. You can phone:
- If you live in Wales call 08444 77 20 20
- If you live in England call 08444 111 444
- If you live in Scotland call 0808 800 9060 .
- Hard of hearing? Call the Text Relay Service call 08444 111 445
The advice is free but the phone numbers are not free and cost 5 pence per minute from BT landlines – mobiles will cost more. You can find your nearest CAB office using this site for England and Wales, this site for Northern Ireland and this site for Scotland.
Macmillan – Macmillan have lots of free resources which can help make sense of the benefits system. Not only that, but Macmillan have adviserswho are able to give help and advice and there is also a grant system available for patients too. You can contact Macmillan on 0808 808 0000 – this is a free number except when calling from mobiles. If you are hard of hearing 0808 808 0121 is the number for the Text Relay service.
Maggie’s Centres – Maggie’s Centres have lots of resources for patients including a benefit advice service. You can find your nearest Maggie’s here where you can make appointment or drop in for financial advice amongst other services.
Facing a cancer diagnosis is stressful enough without money worries adding to the anxiety. If you are facing cancer make sure you take advantage of the resources that are out there to make sure you are getting everything that you are entitled to from the Government and other organisations.
There is lots of help available though and we have compiled a list of useful resources which will guide you through the support that is available to patients and their families.