Research carried out by children and young people’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent has revealed that costs can spiral when a child is diagnosed with cancer.
- Families spend extra £600 a month when child is treated for cancer
- Many plunge into debt as a result of extra costs
- Travel and food biggest additional spend
The charity has launched a new report Cancer costs: The financial impact of treatment on young cancer patients and their families (1) and is campaigning for the Government, banks and energy suppliers to take action and help ease the financial burden when a child is diagnosed with cancer.
CLIC Sargent’s research reveals three in five parents surveyed ended up in debt as a result of a child’s cancer diagnosis – with one in six borrowing more than £5,000. The average extra spend of £600 per month is close to a third of the average UK monthly income, often putting a major strain on family budgets (2).
Treatment for children and young people's cancer can be miles from home at specialist treatment hospitals, requiring families to stay away from home for long periods of time, or embark on regular long distance travel.
These travel costs and additional food are the biggest extra expenditure but families also find themselves spending more on clothing, parking and accommodation while having to keep up with regular bills including mortgage, rent and energy.
The survey found cancer in children and young people also affected household income with 42% of parents stopping working after their child was diagnosed with cancer and 49% experiencing a loss of earnings. All this is on top of the worry and emotional impact that cancer diagnosis brings with three quarters of parents (76%) CLIC Sargent surveyed also reporting that managing their finances caused additional stress and anxiety.
In addition families reported that the benefit system was not fit for purpose for young cancer patients or their needs, often taking too long and still leaving families with a financial shortfall.
CLIC Sargent provides a £170 grant to families following diagnosis, to help with initial costs, and gave out £1.1 million in grants in 2015/16. It also provides free accommodation at 10 Homes from Home around the UK near hospitals where children are treated for cancer.
But the charity says more needs to be done and is calling on the government, banks and energy suppliers to provide more assistance to affected families.
It is calling for:
- A review of travel assistance available to parents and young people, with recommendations for reform to be made by the end of 2017
- Immediate financial support to be provided from the point of diagnosis to every patient
- Financial services and energy companies to review their vulnerable customers policies to ensure they include parents of children with cancer and young cancer patients.
Kate Lee, Chief Executive of CLIC Sargent, said: “The pressure of managing finances causes considerable stress and anxiety during what is an already impossible time for families. This is not right or fair.
“Following the initial shock of diagnosis, treatment often starts immediately and can take place far from home. Suddenly families see their lives transform, as their priorities shift to support their child through their illness.
As our report reveals, hundreds of families are struggling to keep their heads above water financially and need more help.
“CLIC Sargent will continue be there for as many children and families as we can by providing practical and financial support but more needs to be done to ease this financial burden and help these families cope with the impact of cancer on their lives.
"That is why we are calling on the Government, banks, energy and transport companies to implement a series of measures that will make a real difference to families coping with childhood cancer."
CLIC Sargent has launched a petition to Prime Minister Theresa May to act now to ease the financial burden of childhood cancer. To sign the petition visit www.clicsargent.org.uk/ccam
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Lidl UK has raised £1million for children and young people’s cancer support charity CLIC Sargent and is the lead sponsor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Daniela Tulip, Head of CSR at Lidl UK, said: “CLIC Sargent’s research has highlighted the very real issue of the cost of cancer for families across the UK.
"As headline sponsor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Lidl UK is proud to support CLIC Sargent in its bid to ease this financial burden and make life that little bit easier for families struggling to cope with a childhood cancer diagnosis.
“Lidl recently achieved its target of raising £1 million for CLIC Sargent, six months ahead of schedule. This amount has enabled CLIC Sargent to fund 40,000 hours of care for children and young people, and their families, who are going through cancer treatment.”
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