11 January 2012
Cancer patients and their loved-ones are 25 times more likely to ask for help on financial issues rather than on death and dying, according to new figures from Macmillan Cancer Support’s helpline.
The majority (39.8%) of callers contacted the helpline in 2011 to seek financial information and support including welfare rights, compared to just 1.6% who sought information and support about death and dying.
Calls to Macmillan Support Line about information, help and financial advice have increased by a staggering 30% in just one year. Worryingly, financial difficulties are set to get even worse for cancer patients. The Government is pressing ahead with plans to cut vital support by up to £94 a week for an estimated 7,000 cancer patients in the controversial Welfare Reform Bill.
Mike Hobday, Director of Policy and Research of Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
“During the biggest fight of their lives it is shocking that more and more cancer patients have to spend time seeking help about financial issues rather than focusing on their health and well-being. While we recognise the benefits system is in need of reform, if the Welfare Reform Bill goes through unamended it will have a devastating effect on cancer patients who are already struggling. We know many Lords oppose these proposals and hope they will show their support for cancer patients when it comes to a vote in Parliament.”
The Government’s Welfare Reform Bill proposals would see Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) for cancer patients and other disabled people cut after one year. Macmillan Cancer Support would like this amended to two years to give cancer patients more time to recover after treatment.
For further information, please contact:
Sarah Ross, Senior Media and PR Officer
020 7840 4722 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
 Figures based on calls to the Macmillan Support Line between January – November 2011.
 Macmillan estimates that 7,000 cancer patients could lose up to £94 a week. This figure is based on estimates of the number of cancer patients on contributory benefits who are in the Work-Related Activity Group of ESA or currently claiming Incapacity Benefit but will be placed in the Work-Related Activity Group following the reassessment of all Incapacity Benefit claimants.
 Over 16,000 people have signed a Macmillan petition against benefits changes in the Welfare Reform Bill that will leave thousands of people with cancer without vital financial support. www.macmillan.org.uk/welfarepetition
 For cancer support every step of the way call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm).
About Macmillan Cancer Support:
Macmillan Cancer Support improves the lives of people affected by cancer, providing practical, medical, emotional and financial support. Working alongside people affected by cancer, Macmillan works to improve cancer care. More than one in three of us get cancer. Two million of us are living with it. If you are affected by cancer Macmillan can help.