Charities warn that Budget changes could hit cancer sufferers

6 08 2010

Two leading charities have warned that proposals contained in the government’s recent emergency Budget could leave some cancer sufferers up to £1,000 a year worse off.

The Citizens Advice Bureau and Macmillan Cancer Support have raised concerns that changes to the way working tax credit is calculated will hit some people diagnosed with cancer or another serious illness by £20 a week, and could deny them hundreds of pounds in backdated payments.

Tax credits provide extra financial support to those on low incomes, including those who experience a sudden drop in income such as the seriously ill who have to take extended time off work for treatment.

Under the government’s proposals, which were tucked away in George Osborne’s June Budget, calculations for tax credits will no longer take account of the first £2,500 of a household’s loss in income – meaning that should a cancer sufferer have to take an extended period off work, they will in future get far less financial support via the tax credit system.

The government also plans to limit backdating of tax credit claims from three months to one month.

Macmillan chief executive Ciarán Devane said: “We strongly oppose planned changes to the way working tax credits are calculated. These cuts will further reduce the income of the poorest people living with cancer. Cancer patients rely on tax credits to help meet the extra costs they incur as a result of their cancer, such as higher fuel bills, clothing, travel and special diets. We urge the Government to think again about this unfair proposal.”

For the charities’ full press statement, including a hypothetical case study of the impact of the cuts, click here.

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