Babies and children * Young people * Healthy living

Child's cancer drives parents into debt

Child s cancer drives parents into debt 'Big problem' for family finances

Two thirds of parents with children who have cancer are being driven into debt by the extra cost of caring for them, according to a report.

A survey for the child cancer charity CLIC Sargent found that 66 per cent of parents had been forced to borrow money to cope with the extra costs of travel, childcare, food and accommodation while their child was receiving cancer treatment.

Three out of four (76%) parents surveyed also said their child's illness had made a "big problem" for the family finances.

The survey of 245 parents found that families spent around £367 a month on cancer-related expenses, averaging £4,400 a year.

To help make ends meet, more than two in five (42%) parents borrowed from a credit card, while one in five (20%) said they had taken out a loan.

Some 6 per cent of parents said they had borrowed from high interest, short-term payday loans to cope with the extra costs.

Of the parents who had acquired debt, two in five (41 per cent) reported borrowing £1,000 or more, while one in four borrowed more than £2,000.

More than half (55%) of the parents surveyed said they took time off work as unpaid leave after their child was diagnosed with cancer, with one in three taking three months or more unpaid leave.

The findings are in the report Counting the Costs of Cancer, published to mark the start Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

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.

"We’re dependent on the generous support of the public and other donors to fund our vital work to support young cancer patients, but the money we raise can only be part of the solution.

"We want to work with the government and other organisations to find better ways of ensuring young people and children with cancer, and their families, have the financial support they need."

More information: CLIC Sargent

This article was published on Mon 5 December 2011

Image © forestpath -

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