Cancer is a very expensive disease to treat, not only for the NHS but also for the patients themselves.
As it stands there is a web of financial support in position so that patients who are unable to work whilst undergoing treatment receive Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). However, even with this financial provision, many patients are still finding that it is simply not enough to cover their basic living costs. In addition, the government are considering making some changes to the Welfare Reform Bill, putting thousands of cancer patients at risk of losing out on ESA.
According to the survey of 1,550 patients, 17% of those facing financial woe felt forced to cut back on everyday essentials such as food, 5% reported skipping meals to cut costs, 7% feared they may lose their home, 29% had spent all of their savings, and 9% had to borrow money.
Under the new changes to the Employment and Support Allowance, patients with savings above £16,000, or whose partner earned more than £149 a week or worked for more than 24 hours would lose their ESA.
According to Macmillan, these changes could result in 7,000 cancer patients being up to £94 per week worse off, leaving them alone to deal with the cost of increasing household expenses and visits to the hospital.
According to Macmillan Cancer Support chief executive, Ciaran Devane:”Cancer is an expensive disease to live with, but this research shows just how close to the breadline many cancer patients really are.
“While we understand the benefits system is in need of reform, certain changes in the Welfare Reform Bill could have catastrophic effects on many families who are already struggling.”
Ideally Macmillan would like to see the new policy amended so that patients who are eligible for the ESA will receive it for as long as they need.
Financial concerns add stress and upset to our lives at the best of times, let alone when we are undergoing treatment or in recovery from a serious disease. If you find yourself in a similar situation then you may benefit from consulting a debt management counseller.
A counsellor specialising in this area could help you to understand your current financial situation from a different perspective, whilst also assisting you in putting together a strategy of how you will manage your money more effectively. If this sounds like something that could be of interest to you, please visit our Debt Management factsheet to find out more.
In addition, cancer patients and/or their friends and family may find our Cancer fact-sheet to be of use.
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