As a charity one of our aims is to make it easier for families to be able to understand the changing circumstances they face and this can include amongst other things, changes to benefits due to being off work either earlier or for longer than maternity leave provides.
In addition, we campaign for easier transference of maternity rights in the unfortunate event that a partner may pass away.
We also recognise that while many employers are incredibly supportive during such circumstances and offer all the necessary flexibility required by families, there are others who sadly are not either through lack of understanding of current employment legislation or though lack of understanding of the situation you and your family find yourselves in.
ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Services) provide free and impartial advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. Their website www.acas.org.uk is full useful articles and they also have a helpline 0300 1231100. They can also provide conciliation if things go wrong.
Employees have a right to unpaid leave for certain emergencies, also known as ‘time off for dependants’. You are entitled to take ‘reasonable time off’ to deal with unforeseen situations for someone who depends on you for care. https://www.gov.uk/time-off-for-dependants/your-rights
If you have been working for your employer for 26 weeks and have a contract of employment, you also have a statutory right to ask for flexible working – a request for a change in working patterns, such as working times or working from home to better fit in with the demands of caring. The employer can refuse the request, but only on specified grounds.
Each parent qualifies separately. You need to check with your employer if you’re eligible. You can start SPL and take leave in separate blocks, instead of taking it all in one go like maternity or adoption leave. You can also share the leave between you if you’re both eligible. This is a more flexible way of taking your leave throughout the year after the birth of your baby.
A potential benefit is that if your partner decides to end her Maternity Leave and you claim ShPP she can then claim SSP or ESA. You can also both claim ShPP and SPL in the same time period, if she has a binding agreement with her employer to end maternity leave. For more information, please visit:
Local Cancer centres often have a service available for you to speak to someone about your finances, be that managing a budget better, benefits advice or debt management. Sometimes discussing your situation with a professional can really help to gain some perspective and make it all seem a little bit more manageable. It is also worth finding out if your local government offers a Welfare Rights service or Citizens Advice Bureau are also very helpful.
It might be a good idea to just have a look at your spending and budget, this online form is really useful. http://finance.macmillan.org.uk/budget-calculator
Macmillan Cancer Support has lots of guidance and information about benefits and financial matters. You can find out more by calling them on 0800 808 00 00 or going online to macmillan.org.uk (e.g. Help with the cost of cancer). If you would prefer to speak to someone in person, you can find your nearest Macmillan benefits advisor at
In addition to the information and guidance, you could consider applying for one of their Macmillan Grants if you meet their general conditions.
Mummy’s Star operates a small grants programme to help support families in the situation. Full details of this can be found on the grants page including guidelines, application form and what we require to process an application. Our grants are non means tested.
In addition, Macmillan runs its own grant programme. These applications are normally completed by a Macmillan professional and will include supporting information showing how your needs are connected to the impact of the cancer. It is also worth speaking to a MacMillan welfare Advisor, they may be able to get money off your heating costs and other help you may not know about.
Claiming different benefits can be a minefield, especially when you add in maternity/ paternity pay and leave. For more details about what Mum might be able to claim please see the ‘Get Support – For Me’ section of our website.
It’s always best to speak to a MacMillan or other specialist benefits advisor. Your local cancer care centre may have someone you can talk to and you can contact us if you’re still unsure. Below are a couple of suggetions:
If you care for someone with cancer for more than 35 hours per week you can (with their permission) claim carers allowance. Many people, partners especially, may not see themselves as carers. But being a carer can include sitting at appointments, making meals and even just being in the house while they are sleeping in case they need your support (including overnight)
There are special rules to consider though especially regarding your income. The person you care for must also be claiming other benefits to be eligible. Please visit https://www.gov.uk/carers-allowance for more information.
Tax credits/ Universal credit.
It’s worth checking that your tax credits office is up to date on the changes to your circumstances. If they are claiming PIP they may be eligible for the disabled worker/ severe disability element of working tax credits. This might also mean you can get more of the childcare element of working tax credits too. https://www.gov.uk/working-tax-credit/overview
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction/Support
If you are on a low income and pay rent, you may be able to apply for housing benefit. This can pay all or part of your rent. Please follow the link for more information or get in touch with your local council. https://www.gov.uk/housing-benefit/overview
As with housing benefit, you may be able to claim a reduction in your council tax. Please follow the link for more information. https://www.gov.uk/apply-council-tax-reduction
You cannot claim these benefits if you have savings over £16,000
Please contact us if you need any help.
Many people feel this way. It’s sometimes difficult to accept support and many of us feel a sense of pride about not claiming benefits.
However, the day someone is diagnosed with cancer they automatically meet the disability definition under the Equality Act 2010, this also covers you as their carer. This is to help and protect you both. Accepting this in purely definitive terms can give you access to a number of benefits, support and legal rights that technically class cancer as a disability and protect their carers too.