Cost of living - support for people with cancer

The latest updates about the cost of living

Updated on Thursday 26th May 2022

There were announcements made in the House of Commons on Thursday 26th May about rises to the cost of living. We’re pleased to see the UK Government is offering some more help for people struggling with the increasing cost of living.

Here are some of the key announcements made the the UK Government:

  • Eight million of the lowest income families will also get a one-off payment of £650.
  • From this autumn, eight million pensioner households will receive an extra winter fuel payment of £300.
  • There will be a one-off disability cost of living payment of £150 to those on non-means tested disability benefits. This includes Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and Attendance allowance. 
  • All households will receive a £400 discount on energy bills. 

More information about the cost of living support from the UK Government is on GOV.UK.

We know that many people living with cancer are really worried about these spiralling costs, on top of the financial pressures of a diagnosis.

If you or someone you know is concerned about money, this page has more about the help that is available.

There is also more information about the specially trained advisors on the Macmillan Support Line, Macmillan Grants, other ways we can help, and the support that is available from other organisations.

"When you get cancer, your wage goes away, but your bills and your rent don't go away. You don't save for cancer. I was completely unprepared."

Clare welcoming a Macmillan Professional at her front door, chatting with Macmillan Professionals in her home, preparing food.
Clare, diagnosed with tongue/throat/neck cancer in 2016.


Why are the costs of living rising?

Inflation, which is the rate at which prices rise, has reached its highest recorded level in decades. This might affect things like the cost of household goods, taxes and certain bills. 

Here are some of the living costs you may see change over the next few months.

Energy bills increase

The cost of energy has risen because of the high price of wholesale gas and of producing electricity at the moment. There is a price cap to limit the amount energy suppliers can charge per unit of gas and electricity. This is set to rise in April, and will also be reviewed again in October.

Food prices rising

Food and non-alcoholic drink prices rose by 4.2% in 2021. There is the possibility they will rise further in 2022.

National insurance going up

Anyone earning income in the UK may need to pay National Insurance. This includes employed and self-employed people. How much someone pays depends on their income and employment status. The UK government have confirmed that National Insurance will rise in April 2022.

In the chancellor's spring statement on the 23rd of March 2022, it was announced that the threshold for National Insurance was being raised by £3,000 from July 2022. This means National Insurance won't be paid on earning below £12,570. More information about National Insurance rates is available on GOV.UK

Council Tax rising

Many local authorities in England are planning to increase Council Tax payments in 2022 to balance the spending during the pandemic. 

In April, when the price cap rises, households in England in Council Tax bands A-D will receive a £150 council tax rebate. This rebate is part of a government package to help families with rising energy costs. If you do not know what band you live in, here is where you can check your Council Tax band.

Rail fares and petrol prices going up

Train fares in England, Scotland and Wales are increasing by up to 3.8%. The cost of petrol and diesel have also been impacted by a rising cost in oil prices.

In the chancellor's spring statement on the 23rd of March 2022, it was announced that there would be a 5p cut per litre to fuel duty until March 2023.

Financial support to help with the cost of living

If you are worried about the cost of living, there is information and support available to help you with your finances.
Here are some of the ways you can get financial help.

Our Financial Guidance team

If you are worried about money, there are people you can talk to:

  • Our Financial Guides are here to give you personalised support to help you plan your budget, manage your money and understand your personal finance options, such as mortgages, pensions and insurance.
  • Our Welfare Rights Advisors can help you to find out what benefits you might be entitled to.
  • Our Energy Advisors can help you with things like access to energy schemes and grants.

If you would like to talk to speak to someone in the financial guidance team, you can: 

You can also post a question for the team in our Online Community. Someone will aim to respond to your post within 2 working days.

Our Financial guides and Energy advisors are available Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm. Our Welfare rights advisers are also available Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm, as well as 9am-5pm on Saturday and Sundays.

Macmillan Grants

Macmillan Grants are one-off payments to help people on low incomes who need support with the extra costs that living with cancer can bring.

We are hearing from more people with cancer who are feeling the enormous pressure of rising living costs. This is why we have added £3.5 million to Macmillan Grants.

We have more information about Macmillan Grants and how to apply.

Household Support Fund

The Household Support Fund was announced by the UK government in September 2021. It is funding that will be given to local councils to support the households who need it most with the costs of living. 

In the chancellor's spring statement on the 23rd of March 2022, it was announced that the Household Support Fund would be doubling from £500m to £1 billion to help vulnerable households.

Who is eligible for the Household Support Fund will vary from our council to another. You will need to contact your local council to find out more about the eligibility criteria and how to apply. To find your local council, enter your postcode on GOV.UK.

Other financial help

We have information and tools to help people with cancer get financial help.

This includes things like:

Five things to do if you're worried about paying your bills

Chris, one of Macmillan's Energy Advisors has put together five things anyone can do if they're worried about paying their bills.

  1. Look into how you can maximise your income through benefits and grants. Billions of pounds of benefits go unclaimed each year, and there are a number of benefits open to cancer patients depending on their health, household, and financial situation.
  2. Let your energy and water provider know your situation (e.g. that your consumption may go up, or if your income will go down if you have to take sick leave from work). Energy providers all have a vulnerability register called a “Priority Services Register” that can provide extra protections and adaptions for cancer patients.
  3. Some water providers also provide “Social Tariffs” that aim to reduce monthly bills for people on low-incomes or who have health conditions that require them to use more water. This is common for cancer patients who are at risk of infection, or have particular cancers, such as prostate and bowel, that require clean bedding and clothing more frequently.
  4. If you are on a Pre-Payment Meter (‘PPM’) and worried you will run out of credit, you can contact your energy supplier who can possibly add emergency credit to your account;
  5. If you find yourself in debt, there are ways to manage this. While Macmillan is unable to provide in-depth debt advice, we can explain the processes that someone will have to go through to do this, and refer you to organisations and trust funds that may be able to help with this debt.

Help with paying your energy bills

If you have difficulty paying your energy bills, whether they are gas, electricity or water bills, we are here to support you.

You can speak to one of our specialist Energy Advisors on the Macmillan Support Line about things like access to the schemes and charity grants. To make a phone appointment with an Energy Advisor, contact the Macmillan Support Line:  

Help from the UK Government

On Thursday 3rd February, the Government announced that up to £350 will be available to help households with rising energy costs.

From October all households in England, Scotland and Wales will have their energy bill reduced upfront by £200 (this will need to be repaid at £40 per year over 5 years).

From 2023, more people will become eligible for the Warm Home Discount.

There is more information on GOV.UK about the help that is available from the UK Government.

Help from energy suppliers

A lot of energy suppliers offer support to people who are struggling to pay their energy bills. This includes things like trust funds and particular services.

Trust funds

Here is more information about energy suppliers with trust funds.

  • British Gas Energy Trust

    The British Gas Energy Trust is an independent charitable trust that supports people who are struggling to Apay their bills across England, Wales and Scotland, no matter which energy supplier they are with.

  • EDF Energy Fund

    The EDF Energy Fund provides support for people who are struggling with their household energy bills. From insulation and replacement heating systems to energy-efficient white goods.

  • E.ON Next Energy Fund

    The E.ON Next Energy Fund is to help E.ON Next customers who are experiencing financial hardship and struggling.

  • Octopus Energy - Octo Assist Fund

    Octopus Energy set up a £2.5 million Octo Assist Fund in November 2021 as part of our campaign to help those worried about paying for their energy

  • OVO Energy Fund

    The OVO Energy Fund supports financially vulnerable customers who have a debt on their energy bill. You can apply online and you may be able to get a one-off payment to your energy account.

  • ScottishPower Hardship Fund

    If you are a ScottishPower customer, and you're receiving Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Pension Credit or Employment and Support Allowance, you could qualify for the ScottishPower Hardship Fund. You could also qualify if you have a low household income, or if you have experienced an income reduction due to illness.


Information and support from energy suppliers

Here is information about other support from different energy suppliers.

Other advice if you're worried about paying your energy bills

There are some independent organisations that can provide more help and advice about paying your energy bills.

Citizen's Advice Bureau

The Citizen's Advice Bureau have information about certain benefits, grants and help you may be able to get from the government and energy suppliers.


Ofgem is the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets. Their role is to protect consumers by working to deliver a greener, fairer energy system. They have lots of information on their website, including how to get help if you can't afford your energy bills.

Help with paying other household bills and costs

You may be able to get help with certain bills and housing costs. This includes things like:

  • Rent or mortgage payments
  • Council tax
  • Phone bills.

Personal Independence Plan (PIP) delays

We know there are some delays with Personal Independence Plan (PIP) payments. For many people with cancer, this means it is taking longer than expected to receive a PIP payment from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

We understand this will worrying for people who are relying on these payments. Christopher Jones, a team leader and one the energy advisors on the Macmillan Support Line has this advice for people with cancer who are experiencing PIP delays:

  1. You can involve your local MP to challenge severe delays in processing your PIP claim. You can contact your local MP yourself, or if you need extra support, with the help of our welfare rights advisers. Your local MP has a direct line to the DWP to escalate claims and investigate any particularly long delays, especially if they are causing you serious financial or health hardship. Not sure who your MP is? You can search by postcode or location on the UK parliament website.
  2. Keep a diary, noting when you have contacted the DWP. This can be useful evidence for an MP or a Welfare Rights adviser if they are looking to expedite your application.
  3. Keep a note of any changes to your condition while you wait on the PIP application to be processed. This can be useful as further evidence that can be sent to the DWP.
  4. Make sure you have had professional input from a Welfare Rights adviser to see if there are any other areas of social security support you are entitled to receive. A number of other UK benefits include disability elements similar (but not identical) to PIP, and you may be able to apply for these or add them to existing benefits, depending on your circumstances.
  5. There can also be support through charitable financial grants, as well as energy advice and support that may be able to help with household bills. Again, our Welfare Rights advisers will be able to speak to you about this.

The Welfare Rights team are available Monday-Friday, 8am-8pm, Saturday-Sunday, 9am-5pm. Here is how you can speak to them:


Emotional support if you're worried about the cost of living

If you're worried about money and you need someone to talk to or emotional support, we're here for you.
Here are some of the ways you can get emotional support.

Talk to our Cancer Information and Support Specialists

Our Cancer Information and Support Specialists are here to listen, offering emotional support, practical information and guidance to help you find the right information and support. 

You might be feeling anxious about what's happening, and you just need someone to talk it over with. They will talk to you about whatever matters to you. 

If you would like to talk to a Cancer Information and Support Specialist, you can:

They are available to speak to 7 days a week, 8am-8pm.

You can also post a question for the team in our Online Community. Someone will aim to respond to your post within 2 working days.

Other emotional help

We have information about other ways people with cancer can get emotional help.

This includes things like: