BENEFITS: Cuts will hit cancer patients

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Macmillan Cancer Support is highlighting the extra financial burden that many people with cancer face, due to extra costs as a result of treatment and/or a loss of income. We are also warning that potential changes to the benefits system could leave many without a financial lifeline.

More than 150 people with cancer in Northumberland depended on a Macmillan grant in 2014 to help them with costs of their treatment, receiving around £46,000 for vital essentials such as heating bills, clothing, bedding and transport to and from hospital.

Nationally, more people with cancer than ever before also depended on us to understand and access the Government benefits and tax credits system, including getting help to fill in complex and time-consuming forms, as well as tribunal representation from our local benefits advice services.

The growing number of people with cancer turning to us with money worries is a stark reminder of the financial impact of a cancer diagnosis when, on average, their income halves and their outgoings rocket. As numbers surge, the support that organisations like Macmillan provide are becoming even more urgent, but we cannot do it alone.

Every sector has a duty to protect people with cancer from further financial turmoil. Yet the Government, through its Welfare Reform and Work Bill, is proposing to reduce the benefits of people with cancer who are currently unable to return to work because they’re not well enough by about £30 a week.

Macmillan is calling on the Government to remove the proposed cut as we believe it will risk pushing the most vulnerable over the edge financially. People in Northumberland can find more at our ‘Put the Fair into Welfare’ campaign site at www.macmillan.org.uk/campaigns

Macmillan offers financial and benefits advice to anyone affected by cancer. To speak to one of our welfare or financial experts, call us free on 0808 808 0000, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, or visit www.macmillan.org.uk/benefits

Dawn Graham,

Senior Macmillan Development Manager for the NE