Poverty should not be a consequence of a cancer diagnosis

People affected by cancer often face unique challenges when trying to access financial information and advice. Helen Powell, Specialist Support Adviser – Benefits Advice Programme tells why Macmillan is currently increasing its investment in face-to-face benefits advice provision to ensure that even more people affected by cancer are reached.

Macmillan has invested millions of pounds over the last 10 years in providing face to face benefit advice for people affected by cancer. The need for advice regarding benefits when someone is affected by a cancer diagnosis is of utmost importance.

helen-powell-blogMacmillan would like all people affected by cancer to be routinely offered the opportunity to access benefits advice as soon as possible after diagnosis. Macmillan is currently increasing its investment in face-to-face benefits advice provision to ensure that even more people affected by cancer are reached.

We have developed a model of benefits advice provision that will ensure people affected by cancer receive the help they need in the best possible place.

By these actions Macmillan hopes to fulfil a core ambition: that poverty is not a consequence of a cancer diagnosis. Money worries are one of the most pressing issues for people affected by cancer and many people are entitled to benefits but the process of claiming can be long and complicated.

Macmillan helps meet the benefits advice needs of people affected by cancer in a variety
of ways including through the support and funding of Local Benefits Advice Services, the production and distribution of high quality printed materials, and directly through our website and telephone helpline (Macmillan Support Line).

Macmillan has invested in the development of benefits advice services in recognition of the unique challenges faced by people affected by cancer when trying to access financial information and advice.

Benefits advice is often hard to access – people affected by cancer often struggle to access generic benefits advice provision.  The symptoms of cancer and side effects of treatment mean that it can be very difficult for people to access advice via conventional channels.

When they are able to access this advice they often find that, whilst the advisers have an expertise in benefits advice issues, the lack of understanding of cancer and its treatments means that some of the available financial help can be missed.

Benefits advice leads to better ability to cope – receiving benefits advice has an impact on health and wellbeing. It leads to reduction of stress and anxiety, as well as increased feelings of being in control and improvements in family relationships.

The income generated from benefits advice enables people to afford necessities and additional items that were required as a result of a diagnosis of cancer.

Advice is often given at the wrong time – although nurses, doctors and other patients sometimes offer valuable guidance many people affected by cancer do not receive it at the right time. Further to a cancer diagnosis people may face new or increasing debt as a result of their change in circumstances. Loss of income, reduced savings, short or long term unemployment, reduced occupational pension and additional costs associated with cancer treatment are the main financial consequences of a cancer diagnosis. Examples include increased heating and general domestic bills, increased travel costs to and from hospital and a change in dietary or clothing requirements.

If you looking for information on where to find your nearest adviser and details of how you can get touch, please go to the ‘In your area’ of the Macmillan website. Put in your postcode and find out what help and advice Macmillan offers where you live.

If you have any questions about cancer talk to our Support Line on 0808 808 0000 (open Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm) or visit our website www.macmillan.org.uk for information and support.

This blog is part of our content for Dying Matters Awareness Week. This website from Dying Matters Awareness Week has lots of information and advice to help you.



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