MP Backs Hammersmith Based Charity’s Plea
To Give Children with Cancer a Break
Greg Hands, Member of Parliament for Hammersmith and Fulham has called for an urgent review of the help provided to the families of children diagnosed with cancer who are often left waiting months to get financial aid.
In an article to be publish later this week in the parliamentary ‘House’ Magazine, he reveals that families have to wait for three months after a child is diagnosed with cancer before they can even claim benefit and then nearly half have to wait a further three months before they receive the first payment. Even when received, benefit does not cover the first twelve weeks of treatment, when treatment is at its most intensive and parental worry at its peak.
Hands said “Every day, 10 children and young people are told they have cancer. The whole family's life is suddenly turned upside down. For parents, coping with the shock and the emotional trauma is hard enough, but as treatment starts, so does their extra expenditure and the subsequent anxiety of financial pressures. Travel to specialist cancer hospitals, overnight accommodation to be near their child and higher telephone bills are just some of the extra costs. And these are compounded by the instant loss of income as parents struggle to cope with work and caring”.
Hands whose younger brother died of cancer four years ago said “The financial and emotional costs to my family were very real, very long term, but were nonetheless manageable, largely because my brother was an adult. To have a dependant child with cancer is, however, a much tougher proposition”.
“I was launching CLIC Sargent’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Chris is just one of more than 3,000 parents a year who have struggled to keep their families going through what can be years of treatment. Single parent Chris lost his job when he told his employer that his son had cancer.”
He told Hands “My son Liam was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2004. He was 13 years old. When I told my employer that Liam was ill, he said that he was very sorry to hear about Liam but that he had a business to run and was not a charity. He left me with no job and a £500 payoff cheque. With two children and having a three hour round trip to Liverpool for Liam’s treatment, sometimes as much as four times a week, it has been such a struggle to make ends meet.”
February 2, 2007