Change………..it can happen to anyone and access to timely benefits, money and debt advice is crucial when this happens.
A health diagnosis, redundancy, relationship breakdown, reducing your working hours to care for a loved one can change your financial circumstances and prompt a need to seek information and advice.
Below are a few ideas of where you can go for advice on many different aspects financial uncertainty. All those listed below are reliable and are genuine local and national companies that can help you with PIP, Universal Credit, energy bills and much more.
Many people assume that they will not be entitled to claim benefits because their income/capital is too high.
However, there are some benefits in the system which are not means tested and are paid on the basis of a person’s national insurance contribution record or on the basis of their need for help with care and or mobility. Please download the Macmillan Money Worries leaflet for further details.
Therefore it is highly recommended that you seek advice from a Macmillan Benefit advisor to check potential entitlement as you might be missing out.
Please contact your local Macmillan Financial Advisor for Torridge, North, Mid and West Devon on:
Telephone: 0845 894 9567
Calls will cost 2p per minute plus your telephone company’s Access Charge.
The line is staffed Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 9.30am until 5pm.
The Macmillan advisors, June Travers-Wakeford and Sam Scott, are also available for face to face appointments at the Fern Centre- please follow the link to the Fern Centre Website for more information.
Patients who live in Bude are advised to check with the admin team on the above number as they may need to contact the advisor from the Cornwall office.
Macmillan has so much financial information on the website including a benefits calculator along with booklets and leaflets on financial matters. These can be downloaded from the website or alternatively you can pick up copies from the Seamoor Unit or Fern Centre. Suggested titles are:
- Help with the cost of cancer (MAC4026_E18)
- Sorting out your financial affairs (MAC14286_E06_N)
- Financial guidance series – Insurance (MAC14285_E05_N)
- Housing costs (MAC14650_E04_N)
- Managing energy costs (MAC11290_E04_N)
- Work and cancer (MAC11675_E07_N)
- Questions to ask about work and cancer (MAC14580_E04_N)
- Self-employment and cancer (MAC12818_E05_N)
It can be hard to find the right support and advice, it’s even harder when you live in a rural location such as Devon. Services can often be difficult and expensive to access, that combined with mental health or addictions can often leave you feeling very lonely and isolated. Encompass Southwest is a local charity based across North Devon, Torridge and West Devon offering free and confidential advice on a variety of issues.
Due to the COVID-19 virus and the need to social distance Encompass have set up a new community helpline to provide telephone advice on the following: Welfare Benefits, Debt & Budgeting, Housing and Mental Health support via their partners at Mind in Somerset. The helpline is open Monday to Friday 9.30am – 3pm and is free and confidential. To speak to one of the trained advisers please call 01271 371499 and press option 1.
Don’t forget you can also find useful information on the Encompass website in the online advice section.
Encompass is based in Barnstaple at 2 Bear Street, Barnstaple, Devon EX32 7BU but please note the office is not open to the public without a prior appointment.
Wiser Money is a partnership between Navigate CIO and Encompass Southwest. The partnership was formed in 2012 and currently delivers a number of financial inclusion services across Devon and Somerset and operates under a formal partnership agreement.
Wisermoney are funded through charitable grants, donations and contracts including The National Lottery and The British Gas Energy Trust (BGET).
Visit the Wisermoney website to find out where your nearest project is, the projects can help with the following subjects:
- Money, benefits and debt advice
- Mental health training and support
- Financial education
- Workshops, training and events
South West Water offer a lower water tariffs named WaterSure for those using more water because of a medical condition or have three or more children under 19 and receiving a means tested benefit and WaterCare for those on a low income and receiving a means tested benefit. Debt Relief – advice, payment plans and in some cases grants are available for those who have experienced life changing circumstances.
Telephone: 0344 346 1010
‘Debt line’ Telephone: 0800 083 0283
361Energy provide free energy home check and help switching provider, advice on grants, insulation options and benefits checking.
If you have a medical condition, and/or are living on a limited income you could be eligible for a Leap Funded free home energy efficiency check.
Website : www.361energy.org
Telephone : 01271 599361
Talking about your cancer may be difficult, especially at work. Some people may worry that their employer will make them redundant or discriminate against them. However, it is important to know that people affected by cancer are protected against discrimination by the Equality Act 2010.
Talking to your employer can also help them to make changes that will support you during treatment. They can help and support you in a number of different ways. They may make work adjustments, give you time off and tell you about your sick pay entitlements.
Before making any reasonable adjustments, your employer may ask to contact a medical professional to find out how to best support you. You will need to give them permission first.
In addition to talking to your line manager, you may wish to discuss your situation with your HR manager or your trade union.
Working during treatment
It can be difficult to decide whether to carry on working during cancer treatment. You may need to keep working for financial reasons, especially if you are self-employed. Some people also decide to carry on working to focus their attention on something else. However, your ability to work will depend on your health, the type of treatment you have and your occupation.
Taking time off work
Cancer and the side effects of treatment can be intense. Some people may be able to continue working through treatment. Other people may have to stop.
Under equality laws, your employer should give you a reasonable amount of time off to attend hospital appointments. This may not be paid time off unless your employment contract states so.
If you’re an employee and cancer treatment makes you unable to work, you will usually get Statutory Sick Pay. Your employment contract may also allow you to claim Occupational or Company Sick Pay.
If you are temporarily unable to work, there may be other benefits you are eligible for.
A welfare rights adviser can give you more information. You can contact a welfare rights adviser by calling the Macmillan Support Line free on 0808 808 00 00 from 9.00am to 5pm.
If you’re self-employed you may worry you won’t be able to keep the money coming in or that you’ll have to close your business. If you and your family rely on the income from your business, you may feel under strong pressure.
Support is available from different organisations and you may be eligible for benefits you don’t know about. You can find out about those sources of support by calling the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00.
Returning to work
After your cancer treatment is over, you may agree a flexible return-to-work-plan with your employer.
The plan might include changes to your hours, your duties, or your workplace. Depending on your condition, you may have to change parts of your job like driving or operating machinery. Your employer is required to make reasonable adjustments to assist your return. This could include changing your requirements, making sure you have suitable access, or providing you with different tools.
It’s also important to consider your financial situation. Your mortgage or credit agreements may have changed during your treatment. And if you were receiving benefits, returning to work may cause some of them to stop. There are many places to go for advice and guidance around financial issues. You can call the Macmillan Support Line to talk to a financial guide.
Giving up work
Some people choose to give up work completely when they’re diagnosed with cancer. This allows them to focus on the cancer, its treatment and other aspects of their lives.
If work has been the major focus of your life, it can be difficult to adjust to not working. It may help to talk to someone about your feelings, such as a close family member or friend. Or you may find it helpful to talk to someone outside your social circle, such as a counsellor.
If you give up work, you also give up the rights associated with your employment, such as occupational sick pay, Statutory Sick Pay, pension rights and occupation-linked private medical insurance.
If you want to take early retirement on health grounds or for personal reasons, it’s essential to take advice from your pension administrator. You may be able to take early payment of your pension on the grounds of ill health, but this will depend on the rules of your own particular pension scheme. You may have several options to consider.
Getting advice from an independent financial adviser about the various options open to you may help you get a higher income from your pension.
Early retirement is always a big decision, particularly if you’re making this choice because of your health. The Macmillan Financial Guidance Service can help you understand the options available to you. They can also help you with the questions to think about before you make a final decision. This is a free service. You can contact them on 0808 808 00 00 from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.
Looking for work
If you’re looking for work, there are rules about what an employer can ask about your health and how they use this information.
An employer can ask you for information about your health after they’ve offered you a job. If on the basis of this information, they then decide to withdraw the job offer, they’ll need to make sure the reason they’re doing so isn’t discriminatory.
It’s still acceptable to ask questions during the recruitment process about a person’s health for the following reasons:
- to make sure they’re not discriminating against anyone in their recruitment process
- to conduct positive action (for example, for a company to improve their recruitment of people with disabilities)
- to enquire whether reasonable adjustments are needed for the recruitment process
- to establish whether the applicant will be able to carry out a function that’s fundamental to the role
Disability-related questions mustn’t be used to discriminate against a disabled person. An employer is only allowed to ask questions about health or disability if they are, or may be, relevant to the person’s ability to carry out particular functions of the job.
Many people with cancer don’t consider themselves to be disabled, and if they’re asked in general terms whether they consider themselves disabled they’ll say ‘no’. However, if you’re asked by your employer if you’re disabled, you should say ‘yes’ for the purposes of the Equality Act and the Disability Discrimination Act. This is because everyone with cancer is covered by these acts and the term ‘disabled’ has a specific meaning under the acts.