Macmillan aims to boost benefits

Macmillan Cancer Relief this week embarked on a drive to increase the number of cancer patients claiming disability benefits.

The charity is lobbying MPs to remove some of the bureaucratic barriers that dissuade cancer sufferers from seeking the benefits they are entitled to.

It also wants to raise awareness among patients about the financial help available to them from the government.

‘We believe it is unacceptable that cancer patients should suffer the huge problem of financial hardship at a time when they are most vulnerable – especially when help is available if only they knew about it,’ said Macmillan campaigns manager Sally Lee.

National, regional, parliamentary, political, voluntary sector and medical trade journalists have been targeted with a viral email that asked them to support a press campaign.

MPs are being briefed with details of the charity’s objectives, which include ensuring every cancer patient has access to a benefits adviser. It also wants to change the definition of a terminally ill person from someone who has six months to live to someone with a 12-month prognosis.

Research that claims 77 per cent of cancer patients experience financial hardship is also being used as a news hook for the campaign, along with a report that shows £126.5m in benefits was unclaimed by terminally ill cancer patients in 2001.

‘Better Deal’ posters and leaflets have been devised for the campaign.

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