Money and cancer

People with cancer can face a significant financial impact as a result of their diagnosis. It is important that they have access to the support they need from financial services providers, the NHS, Governments and beyond.

Macmillan’s research shows four in five people:

  • feel the financial impact of cancer
  • and are on average £570 worse off a month.

For many people, a cancer diagnosis may mean they have to reduce their hours or stop working for a period of time. This can result in a reduced income, at a time when they may be facing increased costs because of paying for regular trips to medical appointments and higher household bills.

With the cancer population set to grow from 2.5 million today to 4 million by 2030 it is vital that action is taken now, to ensure people get the financial support they need.

A hand holding some change. Text reads: In The Balance More info

In The Balance

In June 2017, we published In The Balance [PDF, 3MB]. It outlines the banking sector's vital role in helping people to cope with the financial impact of cancer. In it, we make a number of calls on the banking sector to improve the support provided.

Working with the banking sector

In recent years, we have seen a genuine commitment to progress in the banking sector. We have also worked with banks and building societies to help them improve the service they offer to customers affected by cancer. This includes our work with Nationwide Building Society to develop a Specialist Support Service for customers with cancer, and with Lloyds Banking Group to establish a Cancer Support Pilot.

But we know that more still needs to be done to ensure that all people affected by cancer get the support they need from their bank. The banking sector’s huge reach presents a unique opportunity to help people cope with the financial impact of a cancer diagnosis and treatment, and the time to act is now.

What needs to happen

We are calling on banks, industry bodies, the FCA and the Government to each play their part by making the changes to better support people with cancer. Working together to raise industry standards and increase trust, we can get the balance right; so that people feel confident to ask for support and banks are able to provide it.


What can the banking sector do to better support people with cancer?

What do we want banks to do?

  • Ensure that staff have sufficient knowledge about cancer, as well as general vulnerability training, to meet the needs of their customers with cancer.
  • Ensure that people are aware of, and referred to, specialised support where this is available.
  • Increase their focus on the early identification of people affected by cancer and the development of early interventions to support them.
  • Develop new flexible policies and processes to help people affected by cancer manage mortgage repayments and other credit commitments.
  • Invest in communications to their customers to increase awareness of - and confidence in - the support available, to encourage them to disclose a cancer diagnosis to their bank.
  • Evaluate and monitor the effectiveness of interventions designed to support vulnerable customers and share best practice to improve sector-wide consistency.


What do we want industry bodies to do?

  • Develop a single shared standard for fair treatment of vulnerable customers which makes explicit reference to the needs of customers with cancer and other serious illness.
  • Establish a monitoring and evaluation framework, with progress reported annually against this new single industry vulnerability standard.


What can be done to support the banking sector?

  • The FCA should provide clarity about how it expects banks to show that they are delivering improved outcomes for their vulnerable customers and how this will be assessed using regulatory tools and powers.
  • The Government should amend the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 to create a requirement on the FCA to set out a reasonable duty of care for financial services providers to exercise towards their customers.

A hand holding some letters. Headline text: No small change. More info

No Small Change

In February 2017, we published a report, No Small Change [PDF, 2.5 MB]. Our report provides an insight into the significant financial impact of cancer and how it can affect people’s physical and mental wellbeing. It outlines what governments, health bodies and the financial services industry should do to help people face the financial impact of cancer. 

We are calling for:

  • people affected by cancer to be made aware of the financial impact of cancer and signposted to the appropriate financial information, guidance, or advice at key points in their journey
  • the benefits system to operate effectively and to provide an adequate level of support for people affected by cancer
  • the banking and insurance sectors to do more to ensure their customers with cancer have consistently positive outcomes.

Find out more about our campaign to Make Money One Less Worry.


The financial impact of cancer in the devolved nations


Financial Support for cancer patients has always been at the forefront of Macmillan’s work in Scotland. We are currently partnered with the Scottish Government and local councils to provide Financial and Benefits Advice at the five cancer centres in Aberdeen, Inverness, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

With new welfare powers being devolved to the Scottish Parliament we will campaign to ensure that cancer patients get the benefits they are entitled to in as efficient a manner as possible.


Wales / Cymru

We know from our research and from speaking to people affected by cancer that finances and the cost of cancer is an increasing issue for people in Wales. Only a quarter of people with cancer discuss their financial situation with a health or social care professional. 

We believe that each person who receives a cancer diagnosis should be offered the opportunity to access welfare benefits advice to ensure stress and anxiety around their finances is minimised.

Arian a Chanser

Gwyddom trwy ein hymchwil ac wrth siarad â phobl sydd wedi cael eu heffeithio gan ganser fod cyllid a chost canser yn broblem gynyddol i bobl yng Nghymru. Dim ond chwarter y bobl sydd â chanser sydd yn trafod eu sefyllfa ariannol gyda gweithiwr iechyd neu ofal cymdeithasol proffesiynol.

Credwn y dylai pob person sydd yn cael diagnosis o ganser gael cyfle i gael cyngor am fudd-daliadau lles er mwyn lleihau’r straen a’r pryder yn ymwneud â’u sefyllfa ariannol.


Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Welfare Reform Act was passed in November 2015 and the introduction of changes to working age benefits are now underway. This could have an impact on the financial support received by people affected by cancer. We consider it vitally important that people with cancer are supported through these changes and do not lose out on much needed income.

Currently, more than 1 in 4 people of working age receive no information about getting financial help when undergoing treatment for cancer in Northern Ireland. Macmillan is committed to making sure that everyone affected by cancer is signposted to appropriate support and receives the benefits they are entitled to.


Key UK reports

A collection of our UK key reports are available to download below. Please see nation specific resources above.

Tick the document name to select. Then click ‘Download selected’ to download