Research carried out for CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading charity supporting children and young people with cancer, has shown a significant proportion of parents are worried about their financial situation in the run up to Christmas.
The charity claims that the survey of 2,001 British adults, carried out for the charity by ComRes, highlights the often precarious nature of many families’ finances.
Earlier research carried out by the charity found that those families struck by childhood cancer face an average extra cost of £600 every month while their child is in treatment.
CLIC Sargent warns that the two surveys represent a stark warning of how those families facing the shock of a diagnosis can soon find their previously stable finances crumbling.
Treatment is often 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. Parents often have to take time off work to care for their child, while food and energy budgets also change as a result of the complete upheaval of usual routines.
The ComRes survey saw 24% of those respondents with a child aged 18 or under saying that they would have to go into debt in order to pay for Christmas, while 37% were worried about their financial situation in the lead up to the festive period, a significantly higher percentage than those worried who don’t have children aged 18 or under (22%).
When asked how they would find another £600 every month, half (48%) of parents with a child agreed 18 or under said they would need to dig into their savings, while 27% would use credit cards and one in five (20%) would seek loans from friends and family.
Clare Laxton, CLIC Sargent Head of Policy and Public Affairs, said: “This new research reveals how many families are already facing financial stress due to the increased expenditure around Christmas. Imagine then having to pay for a happy Christmas while your child has cancer.
“We see many families have their financial situation devastated very quickly following their child’s diagnosis, as they suddenly see their lives transform and refocus around supporting their child through their illness. Often a huge amount of damage is done to their financial stability before they have even noticed, as they are prepared to do whatever they can to look after their child.
“Christmas is a time when many cancer-struck families look to make special memories and treat their child as they deal with often gruelling treatment. It can be very hard for these families to cut back at a time they want to make special for their child.
“CLIC Sargent works hard to support as many families as possible, through financial grants and advice. A childhood cancer diagnosis is always unexpected, with an inescapable emotional cost, but more needs to be done to mitigate those financial costs, to stop people spiralling into debt at the hardest of times.”
CLIC Sargent is campaigning to Stop Cancer Costing Christmas and calling on the public to donate to support those families in need over the festive period. For more information visit http://www.clicsargent.org.uk/content/stop-cancer-costing-christmas.
The charity’s petition to the Government to provide greater support for families from the point of diagnosis has received more than 10,000 signatures.