Thousands of people with cancer will feel “cold and lonely” this Christmas because they do not have enough money to celebrate or heat their homes, a charity has said. Almost 170,000 people in the UK with cancer are unable to join in special family events such as Christmas due to a lack of cash, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.
Macmillan said the government must rethink its plan on welfare, which it said would take £30 a week away from people with cancer who are too ill to work.
Lynda Thomas, chief executive of the charity, said: “It’s heartbreaking that people who are going through cancer, which is likely to be one of the most difficult times of their life, are also having to wake up on Christmas Day in the cold, alone, without being able to have Christmas dinner or buy presents for their loved ones. Having cancer is an isolating time and being cut off financially because of a diagnosis makes life even harder. People with cancer can lose hundreds of pounds each month because of their diagnosis. It is incomprehensible that the government is pressing ahead with proposals to cut the benefits of people with cancer who have been medically assessed as unable to work by around £30 a week. This will make life even more difficult for this vulnerable group of people with cancer.”
Macmillan Cancer Support, which carried out the analysis jointly with Public Health England’s Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN), says that with four in five patients facing an average cost of £570 a month as a result of their disease, the findings are extremely worrying. Lynda Thomas, said: “We know that a cancer diagnosis can often be financially crippling, even more so for those who are already dealing with the highest levels of deprivation. Just as people are often left with the long-term consequences of treatment, so cancer can have a serious lasting impact on finances. More needs to be done to mitigate this as far as possible.”
About 200,000 people with cancer are living in the most deprived areas of England, leaving them vulnerable to the financial burden of the disease, a study has found. People with either lung, liver or cervical cancer are almost three times more likely to live in the most deprived areas than those with skin cancer, the researcher found. Residents of such areas are more likely to be unemployed or on income support. Increased costs faced by cancer patients can include higher heating bills, as they feel colder and spend more time at home, new clothes because of weight fluctuations, abdominal swelling or a colostomy bag or special bras if they have had a mastectomy and travel costs to and from hospitals. Macmillan said the figures highlight the folly of the government’s plans to reduce the amount received by people entering the employment support allowance (ESA) work-related activity group – for people assessed as too ill to work but capable of taking steps towards employment – by about £30 a week. More than 30,000 people with cancer rely on charity to heat their homes or buy essential items such as bedding or clothing, and some risk losing out further under the government’s benefit changes