Macmillan Cancer Support has revealed that in 2016 it gave out grants totalling approximately £59,300 to Cheshire West and Chester residents who were struggling with the financial hardship that cancer can bring.
Across the North West region, the charity provided around £1,978,300 in grants to help keep cancer patients financially afloat last year.
With around 159 Cheshire West and Chester cancer patients relying on charity handouts to stay above the breadline, Macmillan Cancer Support is calling on the Government to change the law to ensure banks do more to ‘play their part’ as the financial crisis for cancer patients grows.
Last year in Cheshire West and Chester, Macmillan provided approximately £11,000 to help local people living with cancer pay their heating bills; £3,000 for travel costs to get to hospital appointments; £2,900 for kitchen appliances and £12,100 to help clothe people who often experience weight gain or loss due to their treatment.
Macmillan information and support specialist and welfare rights expert Jo Trask said: “We talk to many people who are facing a very tough time financially so being able to offer a Macmillan grant, where people are eligible, can be a real lifeline.
“It’s often to help with things like increased energy costs due to feeling the cold more; kitchen appliances such as food processors for people who can’t eat solid food and travel to and from hospital for appointments.
“They can also allow someone who is very ill to have some precious time away with their family. Cancer is really tough on people’s finances and Macmillan’s grants are one way we can take away some of the worry so that they can focus on their health.”
For the majority of patients (83%), having cancer costs an average of £570 per month.
This is a result of lost income – if people are too ill to work – and increased expenses such as petrol if people need to travel to hospital and higher household bills because cancer patients often feel the cold more during treatment.
Macmillan has seen a rise in the number of financial grants it has given out to cancer patients over the last four years and says a combination of inflation, the rising cost of living and welfare reform could have exacerbated people’s financial difficulties during this time, forcing them to turn to charities for support.
With the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill currently going through parliament, Macmillan is urging the Government to change the law so that banks and financial service providers have a legal duty of care to their customers.
Everyone has a part to play in making sure the financial shock of cancer doesn’t turn into a crisis.
To support Macmillan’s Banking on Change campaign visit macmillan.org.uk/bankingonchange
Anyone affected by cancer can ask their healthcare professional for a referral to the Macmillan Benefits service or if you have any questions about Macmillan Grants, contact Macmillan on 0808 808 0000.