5 March 2018
- Cancer costs nearly £1,500 more a year than having a child
- Most patients are £570 worse off each month, while parents spend £448.41
- Macmillan Cancer Support is calling on the Government to introduce a legal duty of care for the banking sector to help vulnerable customers
Cancer is more expensive than a child, reveals research by Macmillan Cancer Support.
The charity warns the financial impact of having cancer is costing many patients nearly £1,500more a year than it does to have a child,4.
Macmillan is now calling on the Government to make it a legal obligation for banks to have a duty of care for vulnerable customers, such as people living with the disease, before they reach crisis point.
This could include flexibility on mortgage payments, interest freezes on credit cards and loans or ensuring customers are signposted to financial help as early as possible.
It reveals the majority of cancer patients (83%) are £570 worse off on average every month as a result of their diagnosis.
Research shows it costs parents a monthly average of £448.411 per child under the age of 11.
This makes cancer £121.59 more expensive than parenthood every month – and a staggering £1,459.08 more costly a year.
The cost of cancer comes from a combination of patients being too ill to work and additional outgoings, such as paying to travel to and from hospital for appointments.
Cancer and its treatments can also leave patients feeling the cold more and one in five (21%) see their yearly energy bill increase by almost £200 on average[v].
The costs incurred by having a child include food (£86.85)1 and schooling (£38.75), as well as holidays (£60.69), toys (£33.18) and activities (£45.31).
Macmillan provides benefits advice and grants to cancer patients – giving out a record £13.9 million in 2017 alone[vi] - to help cover the extra costs of their diagnosis.
But it says everyone must play their role to stop more people falling into financial difficulty and the banking sector is a vital part of that picture.
Despite there being pockets of good practice, such as Macmillan’s own work with partners Lloyds Banking Group and Nationwide Building Society, the charity’s research reveals that just 1 in 9 (11%)[viii] people with cancer actually tell their bank about their diagnosis.
This is typically because they didn’t think their bank would be able to help them, or they were worried about the consequences of telling their bank.
That’s why the charity is urging the Government use the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill, which is currently going through parliament, to change the law so that banks and building societies have a legal obligation to act in the best interests of their customers, particularly if they are vulnerable. It believes this would encourage cancer patients to seek help from their bank earlier, before they risk spiralling into debt.
The introduction of a duty of care could involve banks providing specialised and tailored support, such as greater flexibility around products including mortgages, credit cards and loans. This would enable cancer patients to better manage the financial impact of their diagnosis.
The charity’s research found that a quarter of cancer patients who told their bank about their diagnosis felt dissatisfied with the help they received[vii]. Macmillan believes a duty of care would also give important clarity to the banking sector on the support they should provide and help ensure consistency.
Mother of three Christine Martindale’s youngest son, Jonny, was 10 when she was diagnosed with cancer of the parotid, part of the salivary gland.
The 60-year-old former social worker from Falmouth, Cornwall, said: “I was in the middle of moving house when I was diagnosed and there came a point when I thought, ‘I just can’t cope’. I had to withdraw my house from the market and lost money on a survey for another home.
“My finances continued to dwindle and I had to borrow from my daughter, friends and family to cover my expenses. I even got a lodger to help cover my mortgage.
“When I was pregnant I could prepare for the arrival of my children and it was an experience I could share. But cancer was never planned and it was not foreseen. People didn’t gather around me like they did for a baby – I felt in isolation.”
By 2020 almost half of the population will have a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime leaving more[viii] and more people at risk of financial difficulty.
Lynda Thomas, Macmillan Cancer Support’s Chief Executive said: “Cancer does not wait until you get a promotion at work or until you have enough savings in the bank. It arrives unexpectedly, shaking up everything from your health to your finances.
“Without the right support, the sudden financial impact of the disease can be crippling.
“Macmillan can’t plug these growing gaps alone. The Financial Guidance and Claims Bill presents a unique opportunity for the Government to support banks and other financial services providers to make a positive difference to the lives of people living with cancer. Progress has been made, but this change in the law will provide more consistent support and prevent vulnerable customers spiralling into debt.”
For more information visit www.macmillan.org.uk/bankingonchange
For further information, please contact:
Laura Routledge, Media & PR Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support
0207 091 2063 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
About Macmillan Cancer Support
You may have cancer, but you are still you with a life to lead, friends to see, family who need you and people to love.
Macmillan is here to help you get on with your life no matter how cancer affects you. We can give you the practical, emotional and genuinely personal support you need to hold on to who you are and what’s important to you.
We can be there for you during treatment, help with work and money worries and give you the time you need to talk about your feelings or whatever’s troubling you. Whether it’s everyday things like the cost to park at hospital during treatment or big stuff like explaining cancer to your children, we’ll do all we can to support you.
We’ll be honest: cancer can be tough. But we’ve helped millions of people through it and we can do the same for you. To us you’re always a person, never a patient. Life with cancer is still your life and we will help you live it.
From the moment you’re diagnosed, for as long as you need us, you can lean on Macmillan. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00 or visit macmillan.org.uk
 Based on results from a local government survey. Table 1 https://static.halifax.co.uk/assets/pdf/media-centre/press-releases/2017-12-20-costly-kids-almost-a-fifth-of-average-salary-spent-on-raising-a-child-press-release.pdf NB: For some parents, child care costs could dramatically increase their monthly spend.
 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.
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.
 Based on figure of £448.41 monthly cost for parents subtracted from monthly cost of £570 for cancer patients coming to £121.59
 Based on monthly cost £570 for cancer patients multiplied by 12 months for yearly total of £6,840 and that being the annual cost of cancer for the majority (83%). The average cost of a child annually being £448.41 x 12 months in a year, which equates to £5,380.92. The latter subtracted from the former gives the difference in cost at £1459.08
[v] Respondents were asked “By approximately how much, if any, have your energy bill(s) changed for reasons related to your cancer diagnosis and treatment?” and selected one from a number of cost bands. The yearly average increase in energy bills was calculated using the mid-point of each band, £30.00 per month for the ‘£30.00 a month or more’ band, and £2.50 for the ‘less than £5.00 per month’ band. Of the 436 (21%) respondents who say their energy bills have increased as a result of their cancer diagnosis and treatment:
20% have increased by £30 or more per month
18% have increased by £20 to £29 per month
26% have increased by £11 to £19 per month
23% have increased by £5 to £10 per month
14% have increased by less than £5 per month
This provides an estimate monthly increase of £16.46. Multiplied by 12 gives an annual increase of £197.52.
[vi] Estimate taken from internal data analysis of grants issued by Macmillan in 2017
[viii] Macmillan Cancer Support/Revealing Reality Research 2017. Online survey of 510 people who have ever had a cancer diagnosis and 505 people who are ‘financially entangled’ with a loved one with cancer and/or who have acted on behalf of someone with cancer. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22 December 2016 – 04 January 2017. Data relating to people living with cancer is weighted to be representative of the population of those living with cancer in the UK.)
[vii] Macmillan Cancer Support/Revealing Reality Research 2017. Online survey of 510 people who have ever had a cancer diagnosis and 505 people who are ‘financially entangled’ with a loved one with cancer and/or who have acted on behalf of someone with cancer. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22 December 2016 – 04 January 2017. Data relating to people living with cancer is weighted to be representative of the population of those living with cancer in the UK.)
[viii] Macmillan Cancer Support estimate 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. (Scenario 1 presented here) Forman D, et al. Cancer prevalence in the UK: results from the EUROPREVAL Study. Annals of Oncology. 2003. 14: 648–654; Office for National Statistics; Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland; General Registrar Office Scotland; Welsh Cancer Intelligence & Surveillance Unit; Northern Ireland Cancer Registry; Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency