Sign Posting and Benefits Guidance

FIRSTLY REMEMBER YOU CAN GET FREE PRESCRIPTIONS WITH A CANCER DIAGNOSIS. Ask at your pharmacy or GP surgery.

Where to get financial advice

The following information is subject to change. It is accurate as of February 2014

If you need advice you can ask to see our Information Officer, or ask your specialist nurse to sign post you for advice. There might also be able to sign post you for advice with dealing with debts and will know about special funds you may be able to apply for.

Other advisors are

Benefits Enquiry Line (BEL) – phone 0800 882 200
Textphone for people with hearing difficulties: 0800 243 355
Web site: https://www.gov.uk/benefits-adviser

The Department for Work and Pensions local offices are called Jobcentre Plus offices. It used to be called the Benefit’s Agency. You can find the number of your nearest office in your local phone book. We refer to the DWP on this page, but in your phone book you may need to look under Benefit’s Agency, Department for Work and Pensions or Jobcentre Plus.

Each office also has its own text phone number for people with hearing problems. All DWP offices provide their staff with deaf awareness training.

If you need translate for help for someone who doesn’t speak English or Welsh, let the DWP office know in advance and they will provide a translator. If you prefer, you can bring your own interpreter.

Universal Credit (UC)

  • Universal Credit will be paid to people who are working but on a low income, as well as to those who are out of work
  • Most people will have to apply online and manage their claim through an online account
  • Universal Credit is supposed to respond to people’s changing circumstances – those on low incomes should get ongoing support as they move in and out of work, rather than benefits stopping and starting and new claims having to be made
  • Some people on low incomes will continue to be paid UC when they first start a new job or increase part time working hours
  • UC will be paid monthly into your bank account
  • Support with housing costs will go directly to you as part of your monthly payment, and not to your landlord

Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

This will replace DLA on 8th April 2013 in parts of northern England and nationally from 10th June 2013. From those dates, new claims will have to be for PIP, not DLA.  If you are already getting DLA, this won’t affect you until 2015 or later except if your condition changes or your DLA is due to end and you get a renewal letter. Then you’ll have to claim PIP from October 2013.

PIP is tax free. It can be paid whether you are working or not. There are 2 parts to it, the Daily Living part and the Mobility part.

The Daily Living part pays £53 a week at standard rate and £79.15 at enhanced rate. You can claim this if you have any difficulty with preparing food or eating, washing, dressing, communicating, managing medicines and making decisions about money.

The Mobility part pays £21 a week at standard rate and £55.25 at enhanced rate. You can claim this if you have difficulty going out or moving around.

You automatically qualify for enhanced rates if you are not expected to live more than 6 months. If not, your rate is worked out following an assessment of your needs. It is paid every 4 weeks into your bank account.

To claim, phone your local Job Centre plus (DWP) office, who will send you a form to fill in? You may need to have a medical assessment to check how your condition affects you, or speak to your specialist nurse who can help you with this.

Attendance allowance (AA)

You can claim Attendance Allowance if you are 65 or over, and need help with personal care because of illness or disability. You must have needed help for at least 6 months, unless you are terminally ill in which case, you can get the higher rate of AA straight away.

This benefit is not based on National Insurance contributions and is not means tested in any way. There are 2 rates of AA for help with personal care

  • A lower rate of £51.85 per week if you need help during either the day or night
  • A higher rate of £77.45 per week if you need help during both the day and night or are terminally ill

You may need to have a medical assessment to check how your condition affects you. Getting AA might increase the amount of other benefits and financial support you’re entitled to. You may get extra Housing Benefit or Pension Credit if you have a severe disability. If you are a carer, you may be able to get Carer’s Allowance if the person you care for gets AA.

You can get a claim pack from your nearest DWP Office. Look for the Benefits Agency (or DWP) in the phone book or ring the Benefit Enquiry Line on 0800 882 200 (text phone 0800 243 355). Ask for an Attendance Allowance claim pack and leaflet SD3. You can also apply for AA on line., or speak with your specialist nurse.

The Disability and Benefits Helpline can give information and help with existing AA claims. Call 08457 123456 between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday.

Tax Credits

There are two tax credits, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

Working Tax Credit (WTC) covers everyone over 16 years old working at least 16 or more hours per week if you care for children, or at least 30 hours per week if you are over 25 and don’t. If you are over 60 or an adult with a disability, you have to be working at least 16 hours per week. If you are part of a couple with children, your joint working hours have to be least 24 hours a week, with one of you working at least 16 hours.

Working Tax Credit is paid on top of your net pay. There is no set income limit as it depends on your circumstances, but as a guide, the limit is around £18,000 for a couple without children or around £13,000 for a single person. There are extra allowances to help with childcare or if one of you is disabled. If you are sick short term, you can still be classed as working. So you can receive working tax credit while you are on statutory sick pay (SSP). SSP lasts for a maximum of 28 weeks, so if you are off sick for longer, you can no longer get working tax credit.

Child Tax Credit (CTC) is available whether you are on benefits or not. If your household income is too high, you may not qualify. You can claim for children up to 16, or 20 if they are in certain types of education or training.  Child Benefit will continue and is not affected by the Child Tax Credit. CTC is paid to you as a benefit, rather than being a tax allowance. CTC is paid to the parent who has most responsibility for child care. Usually, this is the mother. You have to renew your claim every year.

To claim either tax credit, you need your P60 from the end of the last tax year, or your accounts or tax returns from that year if you are self- employed. A P60 is a statement of taxable earnings. Your employer usually sends it to you automatically at the end of the tax year. The last tax year is the one that ends in the previous March. So if you were claiming in February 2013, you would need to supply your P60 for the tax year April 2011 to March 2012. The tax office needs these papers to work out your earnings for your claim.

The system should be flexible enough for changes in financial circumstances to be dealt with as they happen. But it is important that you tell the HM Revenue and Customs (the Inland Revenue) about any changes. You can do this by phone. You must tell them if your income

  • Went up at all in the previous tax year (the year that your tax credit for this year is based on) and you haven’t already told them
  • Goes up during this year by more than £10,000
  • If you don’t give this information in time, you may have to pay some of your tax credit back. The longer you leave it, the more that will be.

If your income is less than it was the previous year, you should report that too. You may get more. You have to do this as soon as possible after your income has gone down because they will only backdate your claim by one month.

  • It is best to tell HM Revenue and Customs straight away if you have
  • Any loss of income
  • Disability benefit awarded to a family member
  • Decreased or increased your working hours
  • Become unemployed, are off sick or on strike for more than 10 days

Remember – if you already claim housing benefit, claiming tax credit is likely to lower the amount you get from these benefits.

You can claim either of these tax credits by phoning the Tax Credit Helpline on 0845 300 3900 (text phone 0845 300 3909). Lines are open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 4pm on Saturday.

Carer’s Allowance (CA)

Carer’s Allowance is a benefit for carers aged 16 and over who look after a relative or friend for at least 35 hours a week. The current rate is £58.45 per week, but you may have some of this deducted if you already get other benefits. It is also taxable.

To get CA, you need to be a carer of someone who gets the care component of the Disability Living Allowance at the middle or higher rate, or someone who gets Attendance Allowance. You must earn less than £100 a week after deductions for tax and national insurance. Unfortunately, you do not qualify if you are studying for more than 21 hours a week. Your claim can be backdated for up to 3 months provided the person you are for was getting DLA or AA during that time.

If you have stopped working for the time being, each week you qualify for CA, you will automatically be credited with Class 1 National Insurance contributions. The credits are free and help to make sure you qualify for other benefits in the future such as your state pension. This is called the Carer’s Credit.

Please note – you can get your National Insurance stamp paid even if the person you care for doesn’t get DLA or AA as long as you get a ‘Care Certificate’ signed by a health or social care professional, such as a doctor, specialist nurse or social worker. You can also do this if you don’t qualify for Carer’s Allowance because you are studying.

If the person you are caring for dies, you can continue to claim carer’s allowance for 8 weeks after the date of their death.

Carer’s Allowance overlaps with some other benefits and the state retirement pension. So if you get the same or more from these you may not qualify. But it is still worth claiming because you may then qualify for Pension Credit or the carer’s premium on other benefits.

Finally, remember that getting Carer’s Allowance can affect the benefits of the person you are caring for. Check this out before you make a claim. Applying for Carer’s Allowance can be complicated so it’s worth getting help from a Benefit’s Advisor or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

You can claim Carer’s Allowance on line or by post using form DS700, which you can download from the same link.

Income Support (IS)

People aged between 16 and pension age can claim Income Support (IS) if they are on a low income, working less than 16 hours a week and not signed on as unemployed. If you have a partner, they must work less than 24 hours a week.

Your income is used to decide whether you qualify for IS. This is called means testing. You must have capital, any savings or capital you have over £6,000 will affect your claim and if you have over £16,000 you won’t get anything. Capital is what you own, such as a house or flat, but does not include your home. Other financial demands you have, such as paying child maintenance, will also be taken into account.

The final amount you get is based on factors such as your age, health, and housing costs, working hours, the number of people in your household and whether you are a single parent or a carer. There is a personal allowance for living expenses and additional payments for being a carer or having a disability. Claiming IS can mean you are eligible for other benefits such as Disability Living Allowance, free school meals, free prescriptions and Housing Benefit.

To claim IS, visit or phone your local Jobcentre Plus office or phone 0800 055 6688 (text phone 0800 023 4888) between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday. You can also claim IS on line

Pension Credit (PC)

Pension Credit is really income support for people over pension age.

Remember that any savings you have will count towards your income. There is an online pension credit calculator that you can use to work out how much you might get. Pension credit comes in two parts

  • Guarantee Credit
  • Savings Credit

Guarantee Credit is based on your income. You can claim if you are over pension age. If you have more than £6,000 in savings, you will receive less than the full amount. There is no limit to the number of hours you can work but most of what you earn will be counted when your entitlement is worked out. You are eligible if your income is less than £142.70 for a single person or £217.90 for a couple (as of April 201). Guarantee credit tops it up to this amount. If you are a carer, or get Attendance Allowance or Disability Living Allowance, you can get a higher rate of Guarantee Credit.

Savings Credit is for people over 65 who have an income or savings above basic state pension level. You may get up to £18.54 per week for a single person or £23.73 for a couple depending on your weekly income.

The maximum income limit includes all earnings and pensions you receive. If in any doubt about whether you qualify, do put in a claim. You may get more if you are disabled, a carer or have certain housing costs such as mortgage interest payments.

You can download more information about PC from the Government Benefits website.

To claim pension credit, you can ring the Pensions Service on 0800 99 1234 or text phone 0800 169 0133.  Lines are open 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. Someone will complete the form with you over the phone and then send it to you for checking and signature. Or you can download a PC claim form from the Government website.

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is a payment for employed people who become sick and who are unable to work. It is not means tested. To qualify you must be employed and earn enough to pay National Insurance contributions. You have to be unable to work for any 4 or more days in a row, including weekends and bank holidays. If you are off sick for 3 days or less, you will not qualify. You will only be paid SSP for days that you are contracted to work (for example, you will not be paid for weekends if you work Monday to Friday).  You must have average weekly earnings of at least £107 a week to qualify (worked out on the 8 weeks before your sickness began).

The standard weekly rate of SSP is £85.85 a week for up to 28 weeks.  You can’t claim if your employer has a sick pay scheme that would pay you that amount or more.

Tell your employer as soon as you become sick. You need a medical certificate from your doctor if you are off sick for more than a week. The benefit will be paid the same way as wages for up to 28 weeks of sick leave, but you may get sick pay for longer than that depending on your own employer’s sickness scheme.

If you are still ill after 28 weeks, your employer should give you an SSP1 form to claim Employment Support Allowance.

Claim from your employer. If you aren’t sure what they are telling you is right, you can call the HMRC employees enquiry line for advice on 0845 302 1479 (text phone 0845 915 3296). Lines are open from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

You may also be entitled to Income Support depending on your financial circumstances, and should get advice on which would be better for you – ask your DWP Office (Job centre Plus).

Employment support allowance (ESA)

If you are ill or disabled, Employment Support Allowance (ESA) can give you financial support if you can’t work or help to work if you are able to.  You can claim if you are employed, self-employed, unemployed or a student on DLA. It is based on your record of National Insurance contributions or your income, or both.

There are two phases to the allowance. First there is the assessment phase. For the first 13 weeks of your claim, you can get up to

  • £00 if you’re over 25
  • £56.25 if you are under 25

After that, people are sorted into two groups, either the Work Related Activity Group or the Support Group. The Work Related Activity Group is for people who are thought able to work with the right support. You go to monthly meetings with an adviser, who will organise the support you need to get back into work. The Support Group is for people who would not be able to work at all, due to their illness or disability. So after 13 weeks, you will get

  • Up to £99.15 per week if you are in the Work Related Activity Group
  • Up to £105.05 if you are in the Support Group

When you first claim, you have a work capability assessment.  You complete a questionnaire about how your illness or disability affects you day to day. Your doctor may also be asked for a medical report. A health professional then considers these and may send you for a medical assessment if they feel they need more information.  If you have an illness or disability that severely affects your ability to work, you will not be expected to prepare for work but may still need to have the medical assessment.

You can claim by calling the New Claims Centre on 0800 055 6688 (text phone 0800 023 4888). Lines are open from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday. They will ask you questions about your circumstances and tell you what happens next. Or you can download a claim form on line and send it to your local Jobseeker plus (DWP) office.

Housing Benefit

You can get Housing Benefit if your income is low either because you are on other benefits, or you do not earn very much. You can be in full or part time work and still qualify if your income is low enough. You must claim for where you actually live, but this may include house, flat, houseboat or caravan, hotel or guesthouse if you are homeless and can find no alternative accommodation. You may get help whether you rent from the council, a housing association or a private landlord. You may get some or all of your rent paid.

You qualify for HB if you pay rent, are on a low income or benefits and have savings below £16,000. If you are under 35, you can only get HB for a bedsit or a single room in a shared house or flat.

The amount of HB you get depends on

  • Whether you rent privately or from the council
  • Whether you have unoccupied rooms and live in council or other social housing (such as a housing association house or flat)
  • You and your partner’s income
  • The size of your family
  • Any savings above £6,000
  • The amount of rent you have to pay

You cannot claim HB if you have savings of more than £16,000, unless you receive Pension Guarantee Credit. Housing benefit does not cover fuel costs or some service charges. It doesn’t cover mortgage interest payments but these may be covered by Income Support instead.

You can get claims backdated in some circumstances. You can also claim in advance (up to 13 weeks or 17 weeks if you are over 60) if you are moving. But you won’t get the money before you move.

If you are on benefits, you can claim from your Jobcentre Plus office or call 0800 055 6688 (textphone 0800 023 4888). Lines are open from 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

If you claim Pension Credit, you claim from the Pensions Service on 0800 99 1234 (textphone 0800 169 0133). Lines are open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm on Saturday.

If you are not on benefits, you claim from your local council.  You can download the HB claim form online

Council Tax Reduction (CTR)

This replaces Council Tax Benefit from April 2013. You can claim if you are on a low income or on benefits. Depending on your circumstances, you may not have to pay any council tax. The reduction you get depends on

  • Where you live
  • Your personal circumstances – your income and number of children
  • Your household income – savings, pensions, or partner’s income
  • Whether children or other adults live with you

To claim CTR, you have to contact your local council.

Department for Work and Pensions
Benefits Enquiry Line (BEL)
Phone: 0800 882200
Text phone for those with hearing difficulties: 0800 243355
Website: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/

This is an advice and information line for disabled people and carers about benefits and how to claim them. You can also get benefits advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau or Social Services. Both have local offices and you can find contact details in your local phone book or on the internet.

OTHER USEFUL CONTACTS

Cancer Research UK
Angel Building
407 St John Street
London EC1V 4AD
http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/

If you have a question about cancer, you can call free phone on 0808 800 40 40.

Cancer VOICES
Website: http://opportunities.macmillan.org.uk/p_homePage.aspx
This is a UK wide network of people affected by cancer, supported by Macmillan Cancer Support. Cancer VOICES can help you use your experience of cancer to help shape the future of cancer care. This might be through getting involved in local or national groups or taking part in surveys or research.

Macmillan Cancer Support
Head Office
89 Albert Embankment
London
SE1 7UQMacmillan Cancer Line: 0808 808 0000 (Mon to Fri, 9am to 8pm; information available in other languages)
Email: cancerline@macmillan.org.uk

Cancer Help UK

T: 0808 800 4040

W: www.cancerhelp.org.uk

Part of Cancer Research UK, provides a free Information service about cancer care for Patients and their families.

Carers UK

T: 0808 808 7777

(10 – 12 am, 2 – 4 pm Wed and Thurs)

W: www.carersuk.org

Advice and information to carers, through Website, helpline, booklets. 

Citizens Advice Bureau

T: See Yellow Pages for local office

W: www.citizensadvice.org.uk

The service helps people resolve their legal, Financial and other problems by providing free Independent and confidential advice.

Penny Brohn Cancer Care (formerly the Bristol Cancer Help Centre)
Chapel Pill Lane
Pill
Bristol
BS20 0HH
Helpline: 0845 123 23 10 (Mon to Fri, 9.30am to 5pm)
Switchboard: 01275 370 100
Website: http://www.pennybrohncancercare.org/
Email: helpline@pennybrohn.org
Provides a programme of complementary care – The Bristol Approach – to people with cancer and their loved ones.

BBC Health
Website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/
this is a well written site with basic cancer information. It also has a lot of other information on how to use health services, such as getting second opinions and patient rights.

Best Health
Website: http://besthealth.bmj.com/x/index.html
this site provides information about many medical conditions, including some common cancers. All information is based on published evidence and the site includes references for all its information.

Health Talk Online
The cancer section of this website contains video and audio clips of people with the main types of cancer, so that you can share in their stories.
There is an adult cancer section at http://www.healthtalkonline.org/Cancer/, a teenage cancer section at www.youthhealthtalk.org/,and a section about taking part in clinical trials at www.healthtalkonline.org/medical_research/clinical_trials

The Cancer Counseling Trust

The Cancer Counseling Trust has now closed but their website gives details of other organizations that provide counseling services. 
Website: http://www.cancercounselling.org.uk/

Age UK

T: 0800 169 6565 (Advice line)

Support and advice on a wide range of subjects, ocal support networks for the over 55s.

W: www.ageuk.org.uk

Bladder & Bowel Foundation

Information and support for individual’s affected by difficulties or changes in bowel and bladder function.

T: 0845 345 0165 (medical advice)

info@bladderandbowelfoundation.org

www.bladderandbowelfoundation.org

Assist UK
Redbank House
4 St Chad’s Street
Manchester
M8 8QA
Phone: 0161 832 9757
Email: general.info@assist-uk.org
Website: http://www.assist-uk.org/

Gives free and impartial information and advice about products to make everyday living easier for people with disability. You can see and try out equipment at 48 disabled living centres throughout the UK.

Essential Aids
Website: http://www.essentialaids.com/

This is an online shop for daily living aids for the disabled community, the elderly or those who look after people with mobility difficulties

The Medic Alert Foundation
Medic Alert House
327-329 Witan Court
Upper 4th Street
Milton Keynes
MK9 1EH

Freephone: 0800 581 420
Email: info@medicalert.org.uk
Website: http://www.medicalert.org.uk/
This registered charity provides ID jewellery engraved with your medical condition and a 24 hour telephone number to call in the event of an emergency. The jewellery starts at around £20 per bracelet.

Women’s cancer organisations

Look Good Feel Better
West Hill House
32 West Hill
Epsom
Surrey
KT19 8JD
Tel: 01372 747 500
Fax: 01372 747 502
E-mail: info@lgfb.co.uk
Website : http://www.lookgoodfeelbetter.co.uk/

A charity set up by the cosmetics industry. Volunteer beauty therapists provide skincare and make up workshops for women undergoing cancer treatment. All guests are provided with a goodie bag. It has been running for 12 years and workshops are held in 40 hospitals across the UK. Find your nearest workshop and read more about the work of the charity on their website.

Women’s Health Concern
4-6 Eton Place
Marlow
Buckinghamshire
SL7 2QA
Phone: 01628 890199
Website: http://www.womens-health-concern.org/
Email: admin@womens-health-concern.org
Organisation that provides information about many women’s health issues. Can give personalised advice on menopause problems and hormone replacement therapy. Professional counselling available. Produces booklets on a range of subjects including hormone replacement therapy, menopause, hysterectomy and ovarian cysts

Help with relationships and sexuality

Relate
Central Office: Premier House
Carolina Court
Lakeside
Doncaster
DN4 5RA
Phone: 0845 456 1310 (lo-call)
Website: http://www.relate.org.uk/
Email: enquiries@relate.org.uk

Offers private and confidential counselling, and psychosexual therapy to help with relationship problems.

CORST (College of sexual and relationship therapists) 
PO Box 13686
London
SW20 9ZH
Telephone: 020 8543 2707
Website: www.cosrt.org.uk/index.asp
Email: mailto:%20info@cosrt.org.uk
Provides information about what help and therapy is available for sexual difficulties.

Sexual Advice Association
Suite 301, Emblem House
London Bridge Hospital
27 Tooley Street
London
SE1 2PR
Telephone 020 7486 7262
Website http://www.sda.uk.net/
Email: info@sexualadviceassociation.co.uk
Information on sexual problems that can affect men and women. They provide lists of local specialist practitioners, as well as factsheets on problems such as erectile dysfunction (impotence).

Prostate Cancer UK
First Floor
Cambridge House
100 Cambridge Grove
Hammersmith
London
W6 0LE
Website: http://www.prostatecanceruk.org/
Helpline: 0800 074 8383 (Mon to Fri, 10am to 4pm, Wed, 7pm to 9pm)
This organisation provides a telephone helpline staffed by nurses. They can give you information and advice on all aspects of prostate cancer, including erectile dysfunction (impotence).

General organisation

NHS Direct
Phone: 0845 46 47 or 111

Website: www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/
NHS Direct is gradually being replaced by NHS 111 in England. Call NHS 111 if you need fast medical help but it’s not a 999 emergency. To find out where the NHS 111 number is currently in use, and for general health advice and information, look on the NHS Choices website.

The Medical Advisory Service (MAS)
PO Box 3087
London
W4 4ZP
Phone: 020 8994 9874 (Mon to Fri, 6pm to 8pm)
Men’s Health Helpline: 020 8995 4448 (Mon only 7pm to 9pm)
Website: http://www.medicaladvisoryservice.org.uk/
Email: info@medicaladvisoryservice.org.uk

This organisation provides a telephone helpline staffed by nurses. They can give you information and advice on medical problems, including erectile dysfunction (impotence).

Expert Patients Programme

For general enquiries
Freephone: 01925 320000
Tel: 020 7922 7860
Email: get.info@eppcic.co.uk
Website: http://www.expertpatients.co.uk/

there are 5 regional offices, you can find the details are on their website.

This organisation runs free courses for people in England with long term medical conditions. The aim of the courses is to help the people attending them gain confidence in taking responsibility for their conditions alongside the health professionals caring for them. The courses are usually six weekly sessions lasting two and a half hours. All the courses are run by trained tutors who live with a long term medical condition.

Author; Gini Melesi- Community Cancer Nurse Specialist

Date; 09 February 2014

Date of Review; August 2015