27 February 2017
Thousands of middle-aged people in the UK are being forced to borrow money from their parents because of the cost of having cancer, according to a new report out today by Macmillan Cancer Support.
In No Small Change, Macmillan estimates that more than 30,000 people with cancer in their 40s and 50s1 (8%) have borrowed money from their elderly parents. More than 2,000 have moved in with their parents or parents-in-law after having to sell their house.2
Macmillan Cancer Support says that people are having to borrow from the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ because of the costs of cancer, such as travel to and from hospital as well as loss of income because they are too unwell to work. An estimated 700,000 people with cancer (28%) of all age groups are vulnerable too because they have no savings to fall back on.3
The charity says these new figures show how money worries can affect cancer patients and their families. It warns that cancer– which for the majority of people with cancer costs an average of £570 a month in lost income or increased expenditure4 – can ‘rob people of their independence’ and leave them feeling ‘ashamed and distressed.’ The report also shows money worries during cancer can affect people’s physical and emotional health.
Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support said:
“It is heart-breaking that people in their 40s and 50s with cancer might have to go cap in hand to their parents to ask for money simply to keep a roof over their head or put food on the table. The cost of cancer is leaving people embarrassed, ashamed and dependent.
“Borrowing money could cause tension amongst families at a time when people need support more than ever. While Macmillan is here for anyone facing money worries, we also need the Government, healthcare professionals and the banking and insurance sector to play their part to ease this burden.”
Terry White, from Nottinghamshire, was 56 when he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He said:
“Life before cancer had been comfortable. I’d worked hard and saved hard but six months into an eight-month chemo regime our savings had dwindled to nothing and our finances had spiralled out of control.
“I had to claim benefits for the first time in my life, with the threat of our home being repossessed hanging over us. It got so bad that I had to borrow £2,000 from my 78-year old parents. It was deeply embarrassing that at this time in my life I was going cap in hand to ask for their support.’
Macmillan, which provides a range of support for people affected by cancer including benefits advice, financial guidance and grants, wants those with money worries to get in touch. But it also warns that the Government, healthcare professionals and the financial services sector must play a part in alleviating the financial struggles of people affected by cancer. With more families in general struggling with debt this year5 and the numbers of people diagnosed with cancer continuing to grow6, there must be urgent action.
The Government must ensure people affected by cancer can access the benefits they need. Health and social care professionals need the training and tools to raise awareness of potential money worries amongst cancer patients and signpost them to financial information and advice. The banking and insurance sector must provide support to meet the needs of those financially affected by cancer. For example, banks should ensure their frontline staff are confident in identifying and helping these customers.
To find out more about the financial impact of cancer, read the policy report and get support visit macmillan.org.uk/moneyworries.
For further information, please contact:
Catherine Jones, Senior Media Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support
0207 091 2453 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
- Estimate based on Macmillan/YouGov online survey of 2,002 UK adults with a previous cancer diagnosis. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th and 25th November 2016. The figures have been weighted and are representative of those living with cancer in the UK. The survey found that 8% of people in their 40s and 50s had borrowed money from their parents/parents-in law to cover the additional costs or loss of income associated with their cancer. We have applied this to the estimated 390,000 people in their 40s and 50s alive following a cancer diagnosis (between 1971 and 2013) in England as of 2013 to arrive at an estimate of at least 30,000 people across the UK. Estimate of people in their 40s and 50s living with a cancer diagnosis in England is based on: Macmillan-NCRAS UK Cancer Prevalence Project, Age breakdown of England Observed Prevalence 1971-2013. Based on unpublished data as of January 31st 2017. This work is part of the Macmillan Cancer Support and Public Health England’s NCRAS Partnership Work Plan
- Estimate based on Macmillan/YouGov online survey of 2,002 UK adults with a previous cancer diagnosis. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th and 25th November 2016. The figures have been weighted and are representative of those living with cancer in the UK. The survey found that 0.5% of people in their 40s and 50s had moved in with their parents/parents in law after having to sell their house. We have applied this to the estimated 2,500,000 people living with cancer in the UK to arrive at an estimate of 2,000. Estimate of the total number of people living with cancer in the UK is based on: Maddams J, Utley M, Møller H. Projections of cancer prevalence in the United Kingdom, 2010-2040. Br J Cancer 2012; 107: 1195-1202. (Projections scenario 1). Macmillan analysis based on extrapolation of 2010 and 2020 projections that the number of people living with cancer will hit an estimated 2.5 million in 2015.
- Estimate based on Macmillan/YouGov online survey of 2,002 UK adults with a previous cancer diagnosis. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th and 25th November 2016. The figures have been weighted and are representative of those living with cancer in the UK. 28% of those surveyed said they had no savings. We have applied this to the estimated 2,500,000 people living with cancer in the UK to arrive at an estimate of 700,000. Source of this is as above.
- Previous research by Macmillan Cancer Support shows that cancer costs on average £570 for the vast majority (83%) of cancer patients. Research 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. The research found the total mean monthly cost of cancer resulting from added expenditure and/or loss of income to be £570 a month (amongst those incurring any cost). 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.
- Unsecured debt hits new peak of nearly £13,000 per household – new TUC analysis, Trade Union Congress, 8th January 2017, https://www.tuc.org.uk/economic-issues/labour-market/economic-analysis/fair-pay-fortnight-2015/unsecured-debt-hits-new-peak
- Almost half the population is predicted to get cancer at some point in their lives by 2020. Macmillan Cancer Support. 2013. Cancer mortality trends: 1992–2020. Estimated based on prevalence, incidence and mortality trends for full details see here (accessed December 2014).
- Research out last month showed that people in Britain are owed more than £1,100 by family and friends. 1 in 3 Brits agree that money causes frequent issues between their friends and family. http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2017/01/money-digest-119/,
- People undergoing cancer treatment are often at home and feel the cold more due to side effects such as weight and hair loss and reduced energy levels, so tend to turn their heating up. This can result in their energy consumption going up while their income may be significantly reduced, making energy costs a big concern for cancer patients. Macmillan can help people living with cancer with their energy bills through npower’s Macmillan Fund and Macmillan’s Energy Advice Team. npower’s Macmillan Fund is the only programme in the UK offering bespoke support to npower customers living with cancer by capping energy bills and writing off debt. Macmillan Energy Advisors, offer support and advice to help people living with cancer regardless of their energy supplier.
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