Financial help when caring

When you are caring for someone with cancer, it can cause a strain on your finances.

There may be help available from benefits and allowances, such as:

The benefits system is changing and in some areas, some benefits are being replaced by Universal Credit. Our welfare rights advisers can give you more information.

You may also be able to find help from charities. Macmillan offer one-off grant payments to help people with the cost of cancer.

If you are having problems paying your mortgage, tell your mortgage lender as soon as possible. Contact the Citizens Advice Bureau or the Department of Work and Pensions for advice on paying your mortgage.

The person you are caring for may want to give someone Power of Attorney to manage their financial and health decisions if they are no longer able to. They may also want to appoint someone to make decisions about their welfare and treatment if they have diminished mental capacity, such as dementia.

Financial help when you’re caring for someone with advanced cancer

This may be a difficult time financially. The person you are looking after might have provided the main income for your household before becoming ill. You may have decided together that you should give up work or work part-time, in order to be at home. You may have to find the money for other expenses such as extra heating, laundry charges, special equipment or dietary needs.


Benefits and allowances

Your relative or friend, or you, may be entitled to a number of different benefits and allowances. Try to claim as soon as possible. Payments are usually paid directly into an account of your choice.

Some benefits and allowances are listed here. For more information you can contact our welfare rights advisers on freephone 0808 808 00 00. If you have internet access you can also visit the websites gov.uk (England, Scotland and Wales) and nidirect.gov.uk (Northern Ireland).

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

For people aged 16–64 who need help or have difficulty with personal care (the daily living component) and/or getting around (the mobility component). PIP has many similarities to DLA but there are also differences. For example, the eligibility criteria are different and PIP payments will be reviewed more regularly. Contact our welfare rights advisers on 0808 808 00 00 to find out more.

Attendance Allowance (AA)

For people of 65 or over who have difficulty looking after themselves. There is no mobility component. The amount of benefit paid will depend on how much support and care the person needs.

Anyone who is not expected to live longer than six months because of an illness can apply for DLA/PIP or AA under the special rules. Under these rules, the claim will be given priority and will be dealt with more quickly.

Disability Living Allowance (DLA) – for people under 65 who need help or have difficulty with personal care (the care component) and/or getting around (the mobility component).

As part of the Welfare Reform Act 2012, DLA is gradually being replaced by Personal Independence Payment in England, Scotland and Wales.

Carer’s Allowance (CA)

The carer's allowance is paid each week if you are 16 or over and spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone. You can’t claim CA if you are studying for 21 hours a week or more, or if you earn more than £110 a week (after certain deductions). For you to receive CA, the person you care for must be receiving AA, DLA care component (middle or higher rates) or PIP daily living component.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

This benefit gives financial help to people who are unable to work due to illness or disability. It also provides some support to those who can work. There are two types of ESA – contributory-based (dependent on national insurance contributions) and income-related (means-tested). People may get either or both depending on their national insurance contribution record and their income and savings.

Income-related Employment and Support Allowance is gradually being replaced by Universal Credit in England, Scotland and Wales. Contributory-based Employment and Support Allowance will stay the same.

Because the benefits system is changing significantly over the next few years, the benefits and allowances you may be entitled to could change. So it’s important to always check the current situation and whether you are eligible.


Macmillan grants

These are small, mostly one-off grants, to help people meet expenses that have arisen from, or are associated with, their cancer.

Everyone’s practical needs are different, so grants are available for a variety of different cancer-related expenses. For more information please call us on 0808 808 0000 or visit be.macmillan.org.uk.


Other sources of financial help

You may be able to get some financial help from charities. A useful book which gives details of all the charities and what they provide is A Guide to Grants for Individuals in Need. It’s published by the Directory of Social Change and you can find a copy in most libraries. Many trade unions and professional organisations also have benevolent funds, which can provide financial help and advice. Details are in The Charities Digest (published by Waterlow), which is held in most libraries.

The Association of Charity Officers tries to help people find charities that may be able to offer some financial assistance. Using information about your relative or friend, such as their occupation, religion and where they live, the association can usually find relevant charities to help.

If you, and/or the person you are caring for, are employed, the human resources, personnel or welfare officer at your workplace can also be an important source of information and help.


Help with your mortgage

If you are having difficulty paying your mortgage, contact the manager of the building society or lender as soon as possible and explain what has happened. They may agree to suspend payments for a while to give you time to sort your finances out, or suggest that you pay only the interest on the loan for a while. Another solution is to extend the term of the mortgage so that you have less to pay each month.

Your local Department for Work and Pensions office, social worker or a Citizens Advice Bureau can also advise on help with paying your mortgage.

You may find it helpful to read our information about help with the cost of cancer. It has more detailed information about financial help.


Power of attorney

The person you are caring for may want to appoint a Power of Attorney. They will need to put in writing the name of someone they trust to make decisions or manage their financial and health affairs in the future if they are no longer able to do so. The person they appoint to make decisions on their behalf is known as an attorney. A Power of Attorney must be made while the person is able to understand what it is and what it means.

In England and Wales, Power of Attorney is known as Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). There are two types of LPA:

  • A Property and Financial affairs LPA that allows one or more people to make decisions about things such as paying bills, dealing with the bank and selling a house.
  • A Health and Welfare LPA which allows one or more people to make decisions about things such as treatment, care, medication and where you live.

In Scotland there are also two types of Power of Attorney:

  • A Continuing Power of Attorney (CPA) allows someone to be appointed to manage your finances
  • A Welfare Power of Attorney (WPA) allows someone to be appointed to make decisions about your health.

In Northern Ireland someone can be appointed to manage your property and finances – this is known as Enduring Power of Attorney. But it’s currently not possible for other people to be appointed to make decisions about the care and treatment of someone else.

There is a fee to register powers of attorney. If the person you are caring for is receiving certain benefits or have a low income you may be exempt from paying the registration free or only have to pay part of it.

You can get more information about Powers of Attorney and registering them from a social worker at the hospital or The Office of the Public Guardian if you live in England, Wales or Scotland or The Office of Care and Protection if you live in Northern Ireland.


Decisions about treatment and welfare

The person you are caring for may become unable to make decisions about their own care because they lack the mental capacity. This is the ability to understand and retain information, and to make decisions based on that information. They may lack mental capacity because they have a disorder like dementia, for example. If your relative or friend lacks mental capacity, a doctor must act in their best interests.

Some people make an advance decision to refuse treatment or advance statement about which treatments they are willing to accept in certain circumstances. This means that if they become unable to discuss things with their doctors and incapable of making any decisions, the doctors will still know what their wishes are. Advance decisions are sometimes called advance directives or living wills.

You aren’t allowed to give consent or make decisions about your relative or friend’s treatment on their behalf, unless they have given you specific permission to do so by setting up a personal welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). An LPA must be made while they are able to understand what it is and what it means. It’s only valid in England and Wales.

In Scotland, the legal document that appoints one or more people to make decisions on someone else’s behalf about their care and treatment, should they become incapable, is called the Welfare Power of Attorney (WPA). In Northern Ireland, it is currently not possible for other people to be appointed to make decisions about the care and treatment of someone else.

You can also find out more about advance statements and directives, LPAs or WPAs from a social worker at the hospital, The Office of the Public Guardian or organisations such as Age UK.

Back to Looking after someone with cancer

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If you are caring for someone with cancer, you may be able to get financial help.

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