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Financial support with cancer

Financial support

This page outlines financial support that is available for patients with a cancer diagnosis. Information is correct as of July 2020 (not including special Covid-19 arrangements)


Benefits available because you cannot work.

If you are employed, you are entitled to statutory sick pay from your employer and then could be eligible for New-style Employment and Support Allowance after 28 weeks. You may also be paid contractual sick pay from your company, according to your contract of employment. If you are self-employed you can claim New-style Employment and Support Allowance (see also section on low income).

Benefits because your illness causes you to have difficulty walking or taking care of yourself

  • Personal Independence Payment is available if you are under retirement age (replacing Disability Living Allowance from 10 June 2013 for new claimants). To qualify you need to have had problems for 3 months and they need to be likely to exist for a further 9 months. This benefit is not means-tested or taxable.
  • Attendance Allowance is available if you are over state retirement age. To qualify you need to have had problems for 6 months. This benefit is not means-tested or taxable.
  • Either of the above could entitle someone else to claim Carer’s Allowance for looking after you.

Benefits because you are on a low income

  • If you are under state retirement age and have savings of less than £16,000, you may be entitled to additional income related benefits, in the form of universal credit, even if you are working.
  • If you are over state retirement age, you may be entitled to Pension Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction, even if you have savings over £16,000.
  • Universal Credit replaces most means-tested benefits for working age people (except Council Tax Support – apply separately to Council). You will need to apply on-line and have an email address.
  • Go to to apply.

Benefits because you have a terminal illness

If you have a terminal illness you are likely to have automatic entitlement to Personal Independence Payment or Attendance Allowance. Seek further advice as soon as possible.*

How to claim benefits

  • For Company and Statutory Sick Pay, ask your employer (Personnel/Human Resources).
  • For Personal Independence Payment, telephone 0800 917 2222.
  • For Attendance Allowance application forms phone 0800 731 0122.
  • For Carer’s Allowance claim packs phone 0800 731 0297 (or go to website
  • For Council Tax Reduction forms, contact your local council benefits section.
  • For Pension Credit phone 0800 99 1234.
  • For Universal Credit and New-style Employment and Support Allowance, go to
  • Do a quick check yourself on the benefits calculator at 
Further information and advice

More detailed information can be obtained from: (government website) (Citizens Advice public website) (Macmillan website)

The Macmillan information booklet ‘Help with the Cost of Cancer’ can be obtained from the Macmillan Information Centre in the Berkshire Cancer Centre at the Royal Berkshire Hospital and at the Macmillan Information Desk at Wexham Park Hospital.

To seek further advice

To speak to someone on a more personal basis for detailed information and advice please contact:

  • Local Citizens Advice.
  • The Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 0000
  • If you have followed the above advice and are having difficulty getting benefits into payment, need help with an appeal against a benefit decision or feel you need more help and advice regarding your benefit claim, then please either drop in to the Macmillan Information Centre in the Berkshire Cancer Centre, Mon-Thurs 9am-4pm or Fri 9am-2pm or ask your clinical nurse specialist to make a referral to the Macmillan Berkshire Benefits Service based in the Royal Berkshire Hospital. This offers the option of face to face advice if required.
Macmillan Grants

The standard amount for a grant is £200, although this may change from time to time. Macmillan grants can help meet a wide range of practical needs arising from cancer, such as to:

  • Purchase new clothes needed because of changes to body shape or size.
  • Pay high heating bills incurred when more susceptible to feeling cold during chemotherapy.
  • Pay transport costs to and from hospital.
    Cover the cost of a much-needed short holiday in the UK during, between, or after treatment, or when no further treatment options are available

We can also help with more specific requests that will help improve a person’s comfort or quality of life.

Eligibility criteria

To be considered for a grant, a person living with cancer must meet our eligibility criteria:

  • Have a cancer diagnosis, or still be affected by cancer, or its treatment
  • Be a UK resident
  • Have no more than £6,000 in savings if a single person, or no more than £8,000 savings if a couple or family
  • Have a low income after paying rent, mortgage and council tax. This means a weekly income of £323 for a single person and £442 for a household of two people, which includes any children. Depending on the nature of the situation and request, we may take into account additional adults in the household.
  • We do not count Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Attendance Allowance (AA) in our calculations.
  • The request for the grant must demonstrate a clear link to the impact of cancer and its treatment

These are general rules, but we do consider individual situations.

If you have any questions or you would like to make a grant application, please contact Shirley or Sarah on 0118 322 8700 or 

You can also pop by and chat to us at the Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Centre, North Block, Level 1.

If you would prefer to look online, please visit click here for the Macmillan Cancer Support website.

Free prescriptions

Cancer patients can get free prescriptions. Please ask your doctor, clinical nurse specialist or at the pharmacy for an application for prescription charge exemption.

Medical exemption certificates are credit-card-size cards. They are issued if you have cancer, including the effects of cancer or the effects of current or previous cancer treatment. It lasts for five years and then needs to be renewed.

There are other criteria for free prescriptions, such as if you are over 60 years old. For the full criteria please click here.