Dealing with extra travel costs

The chances are you’ll need to travel for your child’s treatment. Whether it’s minutes or miles away from home, these trips can feel exhausting, stressful and expensive. If you’re struggling to meet the costs, make the most of the extra support available to help look after your bank balance.

First steps

Start by speaking to the team at your hospital to find out whether any of your child’s care is able to take place in a hospital closer to home. This is called ‘shared care’.

Some hospitals run their own transport schemes, so it’s worth asking about this if you’re going back and forth a lot.

If you need to travel a long way, ask your team if there’s any free accommodation near the hospital you could stay at. Young Lives vs Cancer has Homes from Home near some hospitals, and there are Ronald MacDonald houses at others.

Claim back your costs if you’re on low income

If you or your partner receive one of the qualifying benefits (and meet any related criteria), or have been named on an NHS Low Income Scheme certificate, you might be able to claim back your cash using the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme. If you’re in Northern Ireland take a look at the information here instead.

You’ll be refunded for travel and parking for most appointments – so keep hold of your receipts! It’s worth noting that some services may not be covered (out of hour appointments, routine check-ups or screening). The cost of travelling to visit your child in hospital isn’t covered either.

If your child is 16 or over they can make their own claim, probably under the Low Income Scheme.

Cut down parking charges

Parking charges vary. In Scotland and Wales most costs have been scrapped, and in Northern Ireland parking is free for chemotherapy and radiotherapy patients.

The news isn’t so good if you’re in England as each hospital sets its own rate. But there are some things you can do to help cut costs:

  1. Check with your Patient Liaison Service (PALS) to see if your hospital has any parking concession schemes
  2. Check whether you are eligible for the Blue Badge Parking Permit. Some hospitals will provide reduced or free parking for holders
  3. If you are on a low income, see the above information about the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme.

Nab a new set of wheels

Using the Motability Scheme, you can exchange your child’s mobility allowance for a new car, scooter or powered wheelchair – and make adaptations if you need to stow a wheelchair, for example.

Parents of carers can order a car on behalf of their child. Or if your child is of driving age they can benefit from this themselves and nominate you as the named driver.

Your child must have at least 12 months remaining of:

The cost of insurance, servicing, maintenance and breakdown assistance will be covered, along with up to two named drivers.

The scheme is run by the national charity Motability who also provides charitable grants. Take a look to see if your child is eligible.

Save on vehicle tax

If your child is receiving the higher or enhanced rate mobility components of DLA or PIP, then you won’t have to pay vehicle tax.

You can also get a 50% reduction if your child gets the standard rate mobility component of PIP.

You can only have one vehicle exempt from tax and it must only be used for your child’s needs. You can claim the exemption when you apply for tax.

In Scotland? Check out the Young Patients Family Fund

If you live in Scotland, you might be able to claim for the costs of your travel (as well as food, and in some cases, accommodation) through the Young Patients Family Fund. This Fund provides financial support to families and carers of young people (under 18) receiving inpatient hospital care in Scotland.

To make a claim, you need to get a claim form (you can download one from the website) and either submit it to the cash office in your treating hospital or post it to the hospital’s NHS Health Board.

For more details, to check if you’re eligible, and for support with making a claim, visit the website on the above link.

Spend less on travel

Here’s a few more savvy ideas that could help you save money.