17 December 2009
A pilot expansion of charity Macmillan Cancer Support’s financial advice services into all of Scotland’s cancer centres and to people with long term conditions has secured more than £2.5 million in statutory welfare benefits for its clients.
On 14 December Nicola Sturgeon, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, visited Roxburghe House in Dundee to meet with some of the people these services have helped.
The Scottish Government has invested £1.1million in the pilot services that were first established six months ago.
The money, from the Scottish Government’s Achieving Our Potential fund, means Macmillan’s highly successful network of financial advice services are now available in all of Scotland’s five cancer centres.
This move follows the success of a service that Macmillan established at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre in Glasgow two years ago.
The Scottish Government money has also ensured that pilot projects in Tayside and Forth Valley have now been established to support people affected by dementia, stroke and COPD (C hronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) .
Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said:
'The reality of living with cancer or a condition like stroke or dementia can mean claiming benefits is the last thing on someone’s mind.
'This scheme is vitally important because a diagnosis of cancer or a long-term condition can lead to tough financial circumstances for individuals and their carers and they may not know which benefits they can claim. These trained advisors help people navigate their way around the often complicated benefits system.
'It is testament to the success of the programme that it has generated such a huge amount in benefit entitlements and I am delighted that it is now being rolled out across Scotland.'
Macmillan works closely with partner organisations, including local authorities, the NHS and The Pension Service, to deliver its services.
Pioneered by Macmillan, these financial advice services have helped around 20,000 people affected by cancer in Scotland since they launched just over six years ago. These services have also secured around £60 million in welfare benefits for people affected by cancer in Scotland since they launched.
As well as helping them through the complex process to apply for statutory benefits, Macmillan’s skilled financial advisers also help people appeal decisions and secure charitable grants.
Elspeth Atkinson, Macmillan’s director for Scotland, said:
'Many people coping with illness face increased expenses such as higher fuel bills and hospital travel costs at a time when they are experiencing a drop in income. Many also have no idea they are eligible for financial assistance.
'We know that our financial advice services are highly effective in helping people affected by cancer to maximise their incomes and we are convinced that this type of help will also be of great benefit to people with long term conditions, their families and carers.'
It is Macmillan Money Matters in Forth Valley and the Macmillan Tayside Welfare Benefits Partnership that is delivering the new services funded by the Scottish Government.
Dundee City Council social work and health convener, Councillor Jim Barrie, said:
'This is a very worthwhile initiative that has been providing valuable help to people at a time when they may most need it. The fact that financial hardship can be alleviated is one less thing for people to worry about.'
Perth and Kinross housing and health convener, Councillor Peter Barrett, said:
'This partnership service is extremely valuable. The cost of having debilitating conditions can often run into tens of thousands of pounds. Money worries caused by illness can be a major cause of stress for people and their families. There is often a drop in income as jobs may be lost, and savings are used up.
'People affected by illness, and their carers, may be entitled to claim a range of benefits but a lack of knowledge, embarrassment or the sheer difficulties of claiming may stop them accessing these vital benefits. This scheme ensures that advice is easily available to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, and that these people get all the benefits and financial help they are entitled to.'
Further information about Macmillan’s financial support services is available by calling Macmillan on 0808 808 00 00 or by visiting www.macmillan.org.uk .
Notes to editors:
For further information, contact Peter Hastie at Macmillan Cancer Support on 0131 260 3720.
The pilot extension of Macmillan’s financial advice service to those with other long term conditions has been funded with a £628,000 from the Scottish Government’s Achieving Our Potential fund.
Scotland’s five cancer centres are located in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.
A further £528,000 has been allocated from this fund to extend Macmillan’s financial advice services into all of Scotland’s cancer centres.
Since the first specialist Macmillan welfare rights officer was employed in Lanarkshire six years ago, these services have been rolled out across the UK.
Macmillan research has found that financial concerns have been highlighted as a considerable cause of stress for people living with cancer, second only to physical pain.