Help with housing costs if you have cancer

If you are living with cancer, you may be worried about paying your rent or other housing costs. You may be able to get financial support, including help with rent or mortgage payments, council tax or home adaptations.

If you are having difficulty paying your rent, mortgage payments or leasehold service charges, there may be things you can do. These could include:

  • claiming benefits to help with your housing costs
  • making changes to your mortgage
  • claiming on an insurance policy.

Claiming benefits

You may be able to get Universal Credit or Housing Benefit if:

  • you are renting
  • you have a low income.

We have more information about Universal Credit and Housing Benefit. The benefit you need to apply for depends on the type of housing you live in.

We have more information about other benefits and financial support available.

Help with council tax or rates

Local council tax reduction schemes can help towards the cost of your council tax if you are on a low income.

Council tax reduction schemes are different across the UK:

  • In England and Wales, each local council has its own council tax reduction scheme. The support available will depend on where you live.
  • In Scotland, there are national council tax reduction schemes. The support available is the same across each area.

In some areas, councils also have schemes where they can choose to offer extra support with council tax. These are sometimes called discretionary funds for council tax. In these areas, it may be possible to get an extra payment to help with your council tax, in addition to the normal council tax reduction scheme. These discretionary schemes have different names in different areas.

If you are a single person, or if your home has been adapted due to a disability, you may be able to get your council tax bill reduced.

If you live with another adult, such as an adult son or daughter, and they are on a low income, you can apply for a second adult rebate. This means your council tax bill could be reduced by up to 25%.

How to claim council tax reduction in England, Scotland and Wales

Contact your local council to find out what support they offer. You should be able to find your local council’s contact details in your phone book, or by visiting the website for:

Help with council tax or rates in Northern Ireland

If you cannot afford to pay your rates bill, there are different options available to help, including Housing Benefit and Rate Relief, or Rate Rebate if you are claiming Universal Credit.

If you are aged over 70 and you live alone, you might be eligible for Lone Pensioner Allowance. This gives you a 20% discount on your rates.

If you have had certain adaptions made to your home for health reasons, you might be eligible for Disabled Persons Allowance. This gives you a 25% discount on your rates.

If you are a tenant, or a co-ownership tenant with a share in the property, call the Housing Executive on 03448 920 902 or use text relay 18001 03448 920 902.

If you are a homeowner, call the Land & Property Service on 0300 200 7802 or use text relay 18001 0300 200 7801.

Before calling, make a list of all the money you have coming in (your income). You should also make a list for anyone living with you. The list should include any benefit payments.

You can find out more on the nidirect website.

If you have a mortgage

Making changes to your mortgage

If you are worried about paying your mortgage payments, contact your lender as soon as possible. Lenders must look at ways to try and help you. They might allow you to:

  • pay reduced mortgage payments or stop mortgage payments for a set period (payment holiday)
  • only pay the interest on your mortgage for a set period
  • extend the term (duration) of your mortgage
  • review the interest rate you pay.

You can also call our financial guides for free on 0808 808 00 00 to discuss your options.

Claiming on an insurance policy

If you have a mortgage, you may have taken out insurance when you first bought your home. For example, you may have insurance that will pay your mortgage payments if you are off work. Or insurance that will pay off the loan if you are diagnosed with a life-threatening condition.

You may be able to claim on this insurance if you:

  • have a cancer diagnosis
  • are off work for treatment.

We have more information about insurance.

Support for Mortgage Interest

If you own your home, you might be able to apply for a loan from the government to help towards interest payments on your mortgage or loans that you have taken out for certain repairs and improvements to your home.

To apply, you must be entitled to one of the following benefits:

Support for Mortgage Interest is normally paid direct to your lender.

If you are getting Pension Credit, the loan will help to pay the interest on up to £100,000 of your loan or mortgage. If you are below State Pension age, the loan will help you to pay the interest on up to £200,000 of your loan or mortgage.

Your payments can begin:

  • From the date you start getting Pension Credit
  • After you have received 9 Universal Credit payments in a row
  • After you have received any other qualifying benefit for 39 weeks in a row (around 9 months)

You will need to repay the loan with interest when you sell or transfer ownership of your home. You can choose to start repaying the loan sooner. The minimum voluntary repayment is £100.

You can speak to our welfare rights advisers or financial guides for more information. Call 0808 808 00 00.

Managing your energy costs

If you are going through cancer treatment, you may be at home more and spending more on energy costs.

If you are worried about paying your energy bills, you should tell your supplier that you have cancer and find out what help they can offer. They may be able to:

  • put your name on a list of people who need more support
  • provide a grant
  • arrange a different payment schedule.

Other ways to help you manage your energy costs include:

  • switching your supplier to find cheaper alternatives
  • finding out about government schemes that could help you save money on your energy costs
  • making changes around the house can also help you keep warm.

We have a leaflet with more energy-saving tips and advice on cutting down your energy bills.

You can also call an energy adviser on the free Macmillan Support Line 0808 808 00 00.

Related Stories & Media

MAC11290_E04_N
eBooks
30 Sep 2019
This leaflet is about managing your energy costs if you have cancer. It explains the payments, schemes and gra...

Water rates

Water companies are not allowed to disconnect your water supply if you have not paid your bills. Some water companies have schemes that may be able to help pay your water bill.

You can download a booklet called Help with water and energy bills at aurigaservices.co.uk. This shows all the current schemes from water companies.

You can also contact your water supplier to ask what support is available.

If you are a leaseholder

Help with service charges

If you are a leaseholder, you may pay service charges on your property. These can include bills for repairs and maintenance. You might be able to get help with these charges if you claim:

Help with service charges is paid and claimed through your normal application for one of these benefits. To apply for help, you need to contact your local benefit office. They will ask to see details about your service charges, for example your invoices. You may also need to provide information about your lease. Not all types of service charge are covered.

If you live in Northern Ireland, contact the Northern Ireland Housing Executive for information about help with service charges.

To find out if you are eligible for help with paying your services charges, or if there are any other grants you could apply for to help with the cost, speak to a welfare rights adviser.

Grants for your home

Local councils or the Northern Ireland Housing Executive can give you financial help if you need to repair, improve or adapt your home for health reasons. For example, if you need to:

  • widen doors and install ramps
  • improve access to rooms such as the bathroom or bedroom
  • provide a heating system that is suitable for your needs
  • adapt heating or lighting controls to make them easier to use.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, these grants are called Disabled Facilities Grants.

In Scotland, local councils may provide a grant to help cover the cost of adapting your home.

The amount that you can get depends on your household income and savings. It also depends on the cost of the work to your property. Depending on your situation, you may be asked to contribute towards this cost.

A grant for home adaptations does not affect any benefits you get.

There are also grants to help you improve the heating and insulation in your home. These are mainly for people who are disabled, on a low income or aged over 60.

You can find out more about grants and other financial support for:

How to claim

Contact your local council in England, Scotland and Wales, or you local health and social care trust if you live in Northern Ireland. You should be able to find your local council's contact details in your phone book, or by visiting the website for:

A professional called an occupational therapist will usually visit you at home. They consider your circumstances and recommend what adaptations you need. You will also be sent an application form.

The waiting list for a home assessment, and for help, can be long in some areas. You may not get a grant if you start work on the property before your application has been approved.

If you are renting

You may be renting from:

  • a private landlord
  • your local council in England, Scotland or Wales
  • the Housing Executive in Northern Ireland
  • a not-for-profit organisation that rents to people who have a low income or certain needs (a housing association).

If you may miss a rent payment or have already missed one, speak to the person or organisation you rent from (your landlord) as soon as possible. You may be able to arrange to pay off what you owe in instalments (several smaller amounts over a period of time).

Make sure this arrangement is affordable, so you can keep managing your payments. If you explain your situation, this may delay or stop your landlord trying to remove you from the property (evict you). It is often in your landlord’s own interests to keep you renting. Finding someone new could take time and be expensive for them.

It is important that you and your landlord agree about how much you owe. You can ask your landlord for a statement of your rent. Their statement and your records should show the same thing.

You may be able to get benefits that help pay your rent, such as Universal Credit. You can speak to a Macmillan welfare rights adviser on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm) for support. If you are eligible for benefits, you should apply as soon as possible. Universal Credit can only be backdated for up to 1 month before you applied.

Managing your phone bills

Phone calls are a great way to stay in touch with your family members or with work. They are essential costs when you are unable to go out due to illness or if you are in hospital. You may be able to reduce the cost of your phone and broadband bills:

  • Check that you are on the best deal for your home phone and mobile phone, if you have them. You may be able to get a better deal with a different provider.
  • You can also save money by making phone calls and sending messages online. You will need to download a free app such as SkypeTM or WhatsApp®.
  • The website saynoto0870.com can help you avoid phone numbers that can be more expensive to call – these often begin with 0870, 0845 or 0844. It helps you to find cheaper alternatives for many well-known companies.

You can find out more information about managing landline costs on ofcom.org.uk and mobile phone costs on nationaldebtline.org.

We have more information about managing your finances.

If you are worried about homelessness

Even if you are staying somewhere, you can still be homeless. You may be considered homeless if you are:

  • staying with family or friends
  • staying in a hostel, night shelter or bed and breakfast
  • living in a place where you have no legal right to stay (squatting)
  • at risk of violence or abuse in your home
  • living in poor conditions that affect your health
  • living in very overcrowded conditions
  • living apart from your family because you do not have a place to live together.

If you have cancer and are worried about homelessness, you may feel vulnerable. Different types of support are available. It is important to get support as soon as you can.

Your local council or the Northern Ireland Housing Executive may have a duty to give you housing or advice. What help they offer depends on your situation.

  • If you live in England, Scotland or Wales – you can find your local council’s contact details at gov.uk/find-your-local-council. They must help you if you are homeless or may become homeless in the next 8 weeks. You must also qualify for help under immigration rules.
  • If you live in Northern Ireland – you can call the Housing Executive on 03448 920 900. They must help you if you are homeless or may become homeless in the next 28 days. You must also qualify for help under immigration rules and not have been involved in anti-social (unacceptable) behaviour.

Useful organisations

There are organisations across the UK that can help if you are homeless or worried about becoming homeless:

If you live in England, you can search Homeless Link for support near you. This includes advice and health services, day centres, night shelters and hostels for homeless people throughout England.

For more information, contact Citizens Advice.

How we can help

Financial guidance
Financial issues can cause worry when someone becomes ill. You may be able to claim benefits to help you in your situation. You may also be able to get financial assistance from other organisations.
Welfare rights advice and tools

There are lots of benefits that could help you after a cancer diagnosis, but the system can be confusing. Our Welfare Rights Advisors are here to help.

0808 808 00 00
7 days a week, 8am - 8pm
Email us
Get in touch via this form
Chat online
7 days a week, 8am - 8pm
Online Community
An anonymous network of people affected by cancer which is free to join. Share experiences, ask questions and talk to people who understand.
Help in your area
What's going on near you? Find out about support groups, where to get information and how to get involved with Macmillan where you live.