Posted on Wednesday 6 March 2024

in News, Press releases

Young Lives vs Cancer responds to the 2024 Spring Budget

Today (Wednesday 6 March), the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, announced the UK Government’s annual 2024 budget. This sets out the Government’s spending, and how public money will be invested. 

In response to today’s Spring Budget, Rachel Kirby-Rider, Chief Executive at Young Lives vs Cancer said: “Cancer can completely disrupt a young person’s life, during and beyond treatment. From education and employment to mental health and finances, children, young people and their families face unimaginable challenges and additional costs that no one should have to face. It’s crucial they get all the care and support they need.  

“We urgently need to see better financial support for young people and families – relief from the pressure of soaring bills and the risings costs of living, and tackling the unavoidable travel costs they face – and commitments to funding the essential NHS workforce. 

“While some of today’s announcements, like extending the Household Support Fund and changes to Child Benefit caps, will offer some support, we still need to see much more targeted, long-term support for the children, young people and families we support.  

“Young Lives vs Cancer is here to ensure the voices of all children and young people with cancer and their families, are heard. We’re committed to working with the government, the NHS and fellow charities to create the change they need.”

What does the Spring Budget mean for children and young people with cancer and their families?

Families of children and young people have to find an additional £700 a month, on average, while facing cancer treatment to pay for the increased costs that start immediately at diagnosis, for things like travel, food, clothing and increased heating bills. This comes while many are facing an average of over £6,000 drop in household income. It’s a situation no one, let alone young people and families facing cancer, should be in.  

Whilst parts of the Spring Budget went some way to addressing some of these challenges, much more still needs to be done so that children and young people with cancer and their families get the financial support they need and deserve.  

Energy and rising costs of living

Despite the energy price cap being lowered from April, bills are still much higher than in previous years, leaving many still struggling. Today’s announcement of the Household Support Fund being extended for an additional six months is welcomed and will offer much needed local cost of living support to those who are able to apply through their local councils.  

However, young cancer patients and their families face many extra monthly costs throughout their treatment which have been worsened by the cost of living crisis, and this includes needing to use more energy. Even though we’re moving out of winter, energy bills for young people and families facing cancer don’t stop – from needing the heating on, to running the washing machine more than normal, the energy they need to use to keep well comes at a huge cost. More support for households with their energy bills and the wider cost of living is still urgently needed, especially for young cancer patients and their families.  

Benefits

It was announced that the Child Benefit threshold will go up from £50,000 to £60,000, with a top limit of £80,000, which will help some households maintain their benefits at a higher income. There are also plans to consult on making the benefit apply to household income, rather than individual income, by April 2026. 

Benefits are a vital lifeline for many young people and families facing cancer, especially disability and carer’s benefits. These benefits need to go much further to help young people with cancer and their families with the reality of the costs being faced. Young cancer patients and their families face a range of challenges accessing the benefits they’re entitled to, from waits before you can apply, delays in applications being processed, and the complicated and stressful process. At a time when children and young people truly need extra support as soon as they are diagnosed, and when parents and carers often have to stop working to become unpaid carers, benefits become a vital lifeline. Children, young people and their families need suitable benefits support quickly from the point of diagnosis.  

Travel costs 

Young people with cancer and their families are spending out an average of £250 a month to travel to hospital for treatment, with an average of 350 miles travelled per month. Petrol, taxis and train fares all add up on top of the many other costs families face when their child is diagnosed with cancer. While there are existing schemes in place, not all young people and families are eligible, and they don’t cover all costs. Young people with cancer and their families need better financial support, which is why Young Lives vs Cancer continue to campaign for a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund. 

Research funding  

The Chancellor announced that £45million of funding will be allocated for life sciences research, which includes cancer, with £3million of dedicated funding going to Cancer Research UK. We hope this boost in funding will contribute towards research into cancer in children and young people, and drive improvements in their treatment and care.  

Dedicated research is a core part of the Children and Young People’s Cancer Plan that Young Lives vs Cancer and CLLG continue to campaign for.

Health spending 

The Budget included an announcement of funding for an NHS England Productivity Plan, aiming to improve the productivity and efficiency in hospitals in England. We look forward to understanding more details of this plan and how it may help improve delivery of care, and remove administrative burdens, for children and young people with cancer and their families. 

Children and young people with cancer require specialist treatment and care. It’s still vital that the specialist children’s cancer workforce is adequately resourced to meet their unique needs and deliver world class cancer care.  

How is Young Lives vs Cancer helping children, young people with cancer and their families with these costs? 

Young Lives vs Cancer Social Workers work closely with families to navigate the benefits system and apply for any financial support they are entitled to – many families say without this help they wouldn’t know where to start. 

We offer young people with cancer and families financial grants to help with the costs of cancer. Every young person and/or family receives an initial grant at diagnosis to help with immediate costs such as travel, food and clothing. Young Lives vs Cancer Social Workers can also provide grants to help when needed such as if a family is struggling to pay rent, facing increased bills or with travel. 

Young Lives vs Cancer is continuing to campaign and share the voices of young people and families who need better financial support to help with travel costs. We are asking the government for a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund to cover these costs for all young people with cancer and their families. 

Last month, the Department of Health and Social Care announced a new Children and Young People Cancer Taskforce, The Taskforce has created a dedicated space focused on improving the experiences and outcomes for children and young people (0-25) with cancer, and their families, and is a positive and important step. We look forward to continuing to work with the Department of Health and Social Care and colleagues from across the children and young people’s cancer sector on this important initiative. 

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