6 May 2014
Macmillan Cancer Support calls for greater understanding of the impact of cancer and better training for front line staff in order to improve services for people living with cancer in a new report to the banking industry, launched today.
The report -Counting on Your Support - which examines the vital role the banking industry can play in easing the financial burden of cancer, sets out nine bold recommendations to help prevent cancer patients from spiralling into debt and financial difficulties.
As well as better training for customer-facing staff to help them have sensitive conversations with customers with cancer, the report also calls for specialist staff with expert training on financial impact of cancer to be easily accessible to people in need and for banks to offer exceptions to process when dealing with terminally ill customers.
Cancer is an expensive disease. Research shows four in five (83%) cancer patients are hit with an average cost of £570 a month as a result of their illness , comparable to a monthly mortgage payment . This is due to a ‘double whammy’ of increased costs and a sudden loss of income. In order to keep up with the additional costs, many cancer patients are forced to miss loan repayments, bounce direct debits or rely on savings just to keep their head above water.
New Macmillan research also reveals that almost all (95%) of people with cancer don’t contact their bank after diagnosis, with deterrents including worrying that that banks would not want to help or contact resulting in negative consequences such as being forced to pay off a mortgage. Of those who did contact their banks, over a third (36%) said their bank was not able to offer them support.
Teresa Treasure, 52, from Staffordshire was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2003, breast cancer in 2012 and a secondary last year. She says:
“Living on benefits after taking redundancy because of my health was an enormous struggle. When I missed a standing order payment, my bank cancelled my current account and cards. I went into the bank in a panic, told them I had cancer, but the manager spoke to me in the public area and refused to reinstate my account. It was shaming, embarrassing and utterly lacking in compassion.
“Money worries now dominate my life with only a basic account. I live from one payment and bank trip to the next.”
As representatives of the banking industry, the British Bankers Association (BBA) has committed to support the recommendations and will use them to help produce new guidance in the summer. The guidance will outline what banks should do to make sure people with long-term health conditions are offered financial support.
Mike Hobday, Director of Policy and Research at Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
“Each year thousands of cancer patients are left struggling financially as a result of their diagnosis, leaving them not only fighting for their lives, but also keeping themselves and their families above the poverty line.
“The banking industry has a vital role in helping to minimise the financial impact of a cancer diagnosis. As our research shows, the majority of cancer patients did not approach their bank for financial support and advice and many say their bank didn’t offer support – this must change.
“By working together with the banking industry to implement our simple and practical recommendations, like providing better support to customers via front line staff, the banks can make a massive difference to people living with cancer.
“Many banks do recognise the financial impact of cancer, but we need the whole industry to come together and adopt these solutions so no cancer patient faces financial hardship alone.”
Anthony Browne, the Chief Executive of the BBA, says:
“This report represents valuable thought leadership by Macmillan and should be welcomed by our industry. The recommendations in the following pages will help many businesses – not just in banking – identify how to best help customers whose lives have been turned upside down by cancer.
“For anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer, money matters are hardly likely to be the first worry on their mind. However, this report shows that those who ring the Macmillan Support Line are 25 times more likely to be seeking assistance on financial issues than those related to death or dying.”
Macmillan Cancer Support is calling on banks across the sector to take up these recommendations.
No-one should face financial worries alone. For financial support visit www.macmillan.org.uk/financialsupport or call us free on 0808 808 00 00.
For further information, please contact:
Cora Bauer, Media and PR Officer
0207 091 2016 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
1. Total cost figure includes additional expenditure and loss of income. All cost figures show the mean average for all those incurring that cost. Three-digit figures have been rounded to the nearest 10 to make them more accessible. Figures based on a postal survey of 1,610 adults with a cancer diagnosis, recruited from a database of callers to the Macmillan Support Line and visitors to a sample of Macmillan Information and Support Centres located in hospitals across the UK. The majority (95%) had received cancer treatment within the last six months. Fieldwork took place between August and October 2012. Results were weighted to be representative of all people with a cancer diagnosis in the UK by age, gender, cancer type and country of residence.
The research was commissioned by Macmillan Cancer Support, carried out by researchers from the University of Bristol Personal Finance Research Centre in partnership with TNS BMRB, and part-funded by our partner The RBS Group.
2. Average mortgage payment in the UK for someone with a 30% deposit is £580 a month, according to the Halifax Affordability Review 2013: http://www.lloydsbankinggroup.com/media/pdfs/halifax/2013/1901_Housing_Review.pdf, accessed March 2013
3. Macmillan Cancer Support/YouGov online survey of 3,007 UK adults who have or have had cancer. Fieldwork was undertaken between 5th and 27th December 2013. Survey data has been weighted to be representative of the wider cancer population (cancer prevalence) in the UK by age, gender, nation and cancer type.
4. As above.
About Macmillan Cancer Support
When you have cancer, you don’t just worry about what will happen to your body, you worry about what will happen to your life. Whether it’s concerns about who you can talk to, planning for the extra costs or what to do about work, at Macmillan we understand how a cancer diagnosis can take over everything.
That’s why we’re here. We provide support that helps people take back control of their lives. But right now, we can’t reach everyone who needs us. We need your help to make sure that people affected by cancer get the support they need to face the toughest fight of their life. No one should face cancer alone, and with your support no one will.
To get involved, call 0300 1000 200 today. And please remember, we’re here for you too. If you’d like support, information or just to chat, call us free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk