17 May 2011
Scottish cancer patients struggling to make ends meet have received a £100million benefits boost thanks to a pioneering charity initiative.
The new figures were unveiled today by Macmillan Cancer Support, the charity that pioneered the financial advice services responsible for helping cancer patients apply for the statutory benefits.
The charity, which has released the figures as part of its centenary celebrations, is now campaigning for every cancer patient to have routine access to financial support.
Macmillan is asking the next Scottish Parliament to commit to a personalised care plan that would highlight the financial support available to patients in their area. The charity is also urging Scots to back its calls by signing up to its Change Cancer Care Today online campaign. Each sign up triggers an email highlighting the charity’s calls to local candidates standing in the forthcoming Scottish Parliament elections.
Anne-Margaret Hegarty, of Calton, Glasgow, lost her house due to the strain on her finances after being diagnosed with cervical cancer for a second time in 2006. In recent weeks, the 39-year-old has again been diagnosed with cancer and this time she is grateful to the support of the Macmillan Benefits Service Glasgow.
The Macmillan Benefits Service Glasgow has secured more than £10 million in benefits for people affected by cancer since it was first established in partnership with Glasgow City Council and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde two and a half years ago.
Anne-Margaret, a shop assistant, said:
'When I was diagnosed with cancer the second time, if I had known that there was financial help available, it would have made a tremendous difference.
'This time, knowing I can rely on a Macmillan benefits adviser to figure out what I'm entitled to and fill out all the forms is a huge weight off my mind.
'If this service had existed last time I was diagnosed with cancer, I might still have my house. It's definitely something that patients should have routine access to as the last thing you want to be worrying about when you're going through treatment is how to pay the bills.'
Research released by Macmillan last year found that, each year, more than £8 million in disability benefits is still going unclaimed by people diagnosed with terminal cancer in Scotland.
However, the report found that the situation has improved since 2004 when £15 million went unclaimed and the charity first introduced its benefits services.
Elspeth Atkinson, Macmillan’s director for Scotland, said:
'It is tremendous that £100million has been put in the pockets of Scots cancer patients who desperately need assistance to navigate what is such a complex system.
'By helping cancer patients to claim, it means they are able to make ends meet at a time when they are too ill to work and are really struggling to pay the bills.
'The stress of money worries can ultimately impact on a cancer patient’s health and the additional money can make a huge difference to the quality of their lives.'
Macmillan is now working together with government, health and local authorities across Scotland to provide benefits services in hospitals and in communities.
There are also around 60 Macmillan benefits advisers across Scotland who help people affected by cancer identify the benefits they are entitled to.
Typically, Macmillan advisers secure welfare benefits like Disability Living Allowance, Employment Support Allowance and extra Working Tax Credits for their clients.
They help the person affected by cancer fill out the forms and will also appeal on their behalf if the application is turned down.
However, the charity says that patients are still missing out and are struggling to ends meet.
'While these services have been incredibly successful, we know that some people are still not aware of the help available.
'We believe a personalised care and support plan which highlights the services available to patients would go a long way to helping people get the financial help they need.'
To find out more about Macmillan’s Change Cancer Care Today campaign, visit
To find out more about the Macmillan Benefits Service Glasgow, call 0141 420 8123.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Case studies from Aberdeen, Ardrossan, Edinburgh and Glasgow available for interviews/photographs
To arrange an interview with a case study or a Macmillan representative, please contact Linda Summerhayes on 0131 260 3720.
Macmillan wants to work in partnership with the next Scottish Parliament and Government to improve cancer services, so that everyone living with cancer receives the best clinical, emotional, financial and practical support.
We're asking the next Parliament to put people at the heart of its services and commit to:
Information, support and benefits advice as a routine part of the cancer journey
Access to a Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist for everyone diagnosed with cancer
Transform post-treatment care to meet the needs of people living with cancer.
Reform is urgently needed because there are currently two million cancer survivors in the UK – 190,000 in Scotland – and this number is set to double within the next 20 years.*
(*Internal analysis by Intelligence & Research, Corporate Development Directorate, Macmillan Cancer Support. Analysis based on Maddams J, et al. Cancer prevalence in the United Kingdom: estimates for 2008. British Journal of Cancer. 2009. 101: 541-547)
2011 is Macmillan Cancer Support’s centenary. For 100 years Macmillan has been providing medical, emotional, practical and financial support to people affected by cancer. For cancer support at home, over the phone, call the Macmillan Support Line free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm).
To reach even more people Macmillan needs your help. To find a way to support us go to www.macmillan.org.uk