Childhood cancer costs “forcing parents into debt”
Additional costs include unpaid leave from work, travel fares and care for siblings

Two thirds of parents of children with cancer are being forced to borrow money to cover costs while their youngster has treatment, according to research.

A survey for the charity CLIC Sargent found families struggle to meet the extra expense of accommodation, childcare, food and travel.

Some 66 per cent of parents surveyed said they were borrowing money to make ends meet and 76 per cent said extra costs were having a major impact on family finances.

A mother visits her son in an isolation room: Cancer-related expenses every month amount to more than 360 on average

A mother visits her son in an isolation room: Cancer-related expenses every month amount to more than 360 on average

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Just under half (42 per cent) were borrowing on a credit card, while a fifth had taken out a loan.

More than one in 20 had turned to high interest, short-term payday loans to cope with additional costs.

Of those in debt, around a third had borrowed more than 2,000.

Common problems included having to reduce working hours and taking unpaid leave to care for their child during treatment. A third said they had to be off work for three months or more.

Meanwhile cancer-related expenses every month amounted to more than 360 on average.

Lorraine Clifton, chief executive of CLIC Sargent said: “Everyone is suffering in this economic climate but parents of children with cancer are amongst the hardest hit. The extra costs can be significant.

“It”s shocking to hear that some families felt driven to debt in order to get through financially.

“Unpaid leave from work, travel costs and care for siblings are some of the additional costs that families face once cancer treatment begins.

“CLIC Sargent is concerned that Government reforms will restrict families” options to financial support through the benefits system.

“Which is why we want to work with the Government and other organisations to ensure young people and children with cancer, and their families, have the financial support they need.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “To be told your child has cancer must be every parents” worst nightmare and we are doing everything we can to support people in this situation.

“Parents of cancer victims have a fundamental right to fair and appropriate car parking concessions and it is expected that hospital trusts will deliver them. And there is support available for healthcare travel costs.”