A cancer diagnosis can have a great financial impact, especially when you have a young family. Taking time off work, travel costs, childcare, parking and other unexpected costs mean that the pressure on finances can be greater than ever.
We are here to help as much as we can. Below are some ways to make money less of a worry and gain the financial support you need.
If you would like to speak to someone about help with claims or financial support, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
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 pay and leave. However, there are a few different benefits you could claim. Here are the key benefits and an outline of how/when to claim.
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.
The Irish Cancer Society has produced some really user friendly guides such as
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
SSP is paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks, if you’re too ill to work you can get £88.45 per week. You may also get more money as part of occupational sick pay, check with your employer if you’re not sure. You must have done some work for your employer and earn at least £112 (before tax) per week to qualify.
Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
You can apply for ESA if you are not eligible for SSP or if your SSP has come to an end. You can also apply for ESA if you are unemployed. You will be required to complete a Work Capability Assessment. ESA is a more complex system and payments depend on a number of different factors, payments range from £57.90 to £109.30 per week.
Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP)
If you are employed, your employer must pay you 90% of your weekly earnings for the first 6 weeks. Then £139.58 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks. It is paid in the same way as your normal wages and National insurance and tax will be deducted. You may get more money if you receive Occupational Maternity Pay.
Maternity Allowance (MA)
If you don’t qualify for SMP you might be able to claim MA. This is again, a more complex system and can affect other benefits you receive.
Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Shared Parental Pay (ShPP).
Each parent qualifies separately. 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.
If you decide to end your Maternity Leave and your partner claim ShPP you can then claim SSP or ESA. You can also claim ShPP and SPL at the same time if you have a binding agreement from your employer to end you maternity leave.
For more information please visit https://www.gov.uk/shared-parental-leave-and-pay/overview
You can claim Personal Independence Payment whether you are working or not. PIP is not classed as income in the same way other benefits are and will not reduce other payments. To qualify for PIP, you must have had difficulties moving around or caring for yourself for three months and you must expect these difficulties to last for more than nine months. This doesn’t mean you necessarily need to be having treatment for this amount of time. You may have difficulty leading up to diagnosis and depending on your type of treatment you can reasonably expect some side effects to last anything from 3- 12 months after it finishes.
If you claim PIP, your mobility will be assessed by a health professional, this may be done in person or sometimes over the phone. It is based on how the disability affects you, not on the condition you have.
There are two components to Personal Independence Payment:
- A daily living component, which includes help with preparing food, bathing and dressing. You will receive either £55.10 or £82.30 per week.
- A mobility component, if you need help getting around. You will receive either £21.80 or £57.45 per week.
If you already get Disability Living Allowance, you will eventually be invited to claim Personal Independence Payment.
You can make a claim by calling the DWP on 0800 917 2222.
In Northern Ireland the introduction of PIP is still under consideration.
If your partner, family member or friend cares for you more than 35 hours per week they can claim carers allowance. Many people, partners especially, may not see themselves as carers. But being a carer can include sitting with you at appointments, making meals for you and even just being in the house while you are sleeping in case they need your support (including overnight)
There are special rules to consider though especially regarding the carers income. Please visit https://www.gov.uk/carers-allowance for more information.
Tax credits/ Universal credit.
If you have decided to return to work you may be able to claim the disabled worker element of tax credits. To qualify, as a result of an illness you are undergoing a period of habilitation or rehabilitation. https://www.gov.uk/working-tax-credit/overview
Severe Disability Element If you claim PIP and you are not working you may also be able to make an additional claim for the ‘severe disability element’. This element is different to the disabled worker element. You can get this even if you don’t qualify for the disabled worker element.
If you are one of a couple, there is no requirement that the disabled person must work to get this element, so if the worker has a partner who doesn’t work but meets the conditions, the couple will get the severe disability element.
This is particularly important if you are claiming the childcare element of Working Tax Credits. Claiming this element means you are not expected to look after your children because you are at home and the childcare element can still be paid.
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, you automatically meet the disability definition under the Equality Act 2010 the day you are diagnosed with cancer. This is to help and protect you. Having a cancer diagnosis and 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.
The following links are to NHS guidelines on eligibility for free prescriptions, government website for benefits etc:
You can get free NHS prescriptions if, at the time the prescription is dispensed, you:
- are pregnant or have had a baby in the previous 12 months and have a valid maternity exemption certificate (MatEx)
- have a specified medical condition and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx)
- have a continuing physical disability that prevents you from going out without help from another person and have a valid MedEx
- hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability
- are an NHS inpatient
You are also entitled to free prescriptions if you or your partner (including civil partners) are named on, or are entitled to, an NHS tax credit exemption certificate or a valid HC2 certificate (full help with health costs), or you receive either:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or
- Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
- Universal Credit
Find out more about the NHS Low Income Scheme (LIS).
In addition to all the above your CNS can provide you with a form to send off for a prescription exemption card. This covers you for all prescriptions, not just those relating to your cancer treatment.