30 November 2015
Almost 170,000 (7%) people with cancer in Britain are unable to celebrate special family events such as Christmas and birthdays due to lack of money, according to new research commissioned by Macmillan Cancer Support and carried out by Truth Consulting .
The new research, which includes a survey of nearly 1,000 people living with cancer, also finds that around one in ten (9%) say they’ve had to miss out on visiting family and friends because they couldn’t afford it.
Other research , which surveyed over a 1,600 people who’ve been in touch with Macmillan, shows that a quarter (28%) of those with cancer are unable to adequately heat their home in winter.
Macmillan warns that many people with cancer will feel ‘cold and lonely’ this Christmas because of the financial impact of their disease. The charity has previously found that four in five (83%) people with cancer are on average £570 a month worse off as a result of their diagnosis.3 This is due to people often having to stop work at the same time as coping with additional costs, such as transport to hospital appointments, new clothes or wigs and spiralling household bills.
It is urgently calling on the Government to rethink their proposal to take £30 a week away from people with cancer who are too ill to work through its Welfare Reform and Work Bill.
People on low incomes (around £10,000 a year or less) already suffer a greater financial impact after a cancer diagnosis, with four in five (82%) being on average £604 a month worse off as a result of their diagnosis.  They will also be hit hardest by the proposed benefit cuts as they’re more likely to be entirely dependent on this financial support whilst they fully recover from cancer.
More than one in ten (12%) people on low incomes are unable to celebrate events such as Christmas whilst around one in six (16%) had to miss out on visiting family and friends because they couldn’t afford it.  Other Macmillan research shows that four in ten (43%) are unable to adequately heat their home in winter because of the cost. 
People on lower incomes suffer a greater financial impact after a cancer diagnosis mainly because they face bigger losses to their income.  Macmillan thinks this could be because they’re less likely to be entitled to sick pay beyond Statutory Sick Pay and more likely to struggle to return to work due to ill health. 
Gemma Savory, 31, from the West Midlands, was diagnosed with bowel cancer last year. She says:
“I was made redundant soon after my diagnosis and despite receiving benefits it just wasn’t enough to cover all the extra costs that come with cancer.
“Last Christmas was a real struggle but fortunately my wonderful colleagues helped me through it by selling Christmas cards for me which helped raise enough funds for me for Christmas Day. The financial impact of cancer is hard at the best of times but at Christmas I just felt so guilty for not being able to celebrate with family and friends.
“I didn't choose to have cancer. It doesn't even seem fair that I have to worry about this as well as having undergone gruelling radiotherapy, chemotherapy and having had two major surgeries.”
Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support says:
“It’s heartbreaking that people are going through cancer, which is likely to be one of the most difficult times of their life, are also having to wake up on Christmas day in the cold, alone, without being able to have Christmas dinner or buy presents for their loved ones. Having cancer is an isolating time and being cut off financially because of a diagnosis makes life even harder.
“People with cancer can lose hundreds of pounds each month because of their diagnosis. To put a stop to this will be difficult but every sector, from the government, to the NHS, businesses and the voluntary sector must play their part. It is incomprehensible that the Government is pressing ahead with proposals to cut the benefits of people with cancer who have been medically assessed as unable to work by around £30 a week. This will make life even more difficult for this vulnerable group of people with cancer. The Government must recognise the financially exposed situation people with cancer often face and the impact this has on their quality of life, especially at this time of year.
“Macmillan knows many Lords and MPs oppose these proposals. Now we need them to speak up and support cancer patients as the Bill makes its way through Parliament. And we desperately need the Government to listen.”
Macmillan is calling on the Government to remove the proposed £30 a week cut to the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) from the Welfare Reform and Work Bill. To get involved in the campaign visit our website macmillan.org.uk/welfarereform
For further information, please contact:
Charlotte Morris, Media and PR Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support
0207 091 2467 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
1. Macmillan Cancer Support/Truth online survey of 955 adults in England, Scotland and Wales who have a cancer diagnosis. Fieldwork was undertaken between 3 - 21 September 2015 and included on online survey of 955 people living with cancer. Data has been weighted. Macmillan estimate (of 168,000) calculated by taking the proportion of survey respondents who are unable to celebrate special family events such as Christmas and birthdays due to lack of money, applied to the estimated population of people living with cancer in GB today (243,700) taken from ‘ 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. The distribution across the nations taken from Maddams J., Thames Cancer Registry, personal communication. See also Maddams J, et al. Cancer prevalence in the United Kingdom: estimates for 2008. British Journal of Cancer. 2009. 101: 541-547’.
2. Macmillan Cancer Support/University of Bristol and TNS BMRB postal survey of 1,610 adults living with cancer. Fieldwork conducted August - October 2012. Data has been weighted.
3. Macmillan Cancer Support/University of Bristol and TNS BMRB postal survey of 1,610 adults living with cancer. Fieldwork conducted August - October 2012. Survey results have been weighted.
4. Macmillan Cancer Support/TNS financial impacts of cancer research conducted in 2012. Data has been weighted. Macmillan analysis of average cost of cancer for those on incomes of around £10,000 or less based on the number of people living on £199/week or less and the mean cost of cancer per month.
5. Macmillan Cancer Support/Truth online survey of 955 adults in England, Scotland and Wales who have a cancer diagnosis. Fieldwork was undertaken between 3 - 21 September 2015 and included on online survey of 955 people living with cancer. Data has been weighted. Macmillan analysis of those on incomes of around £10,000 or less based on the number of people living on £849/month or less.
6. Macmillan Cancer Support/University of Bristol and TNS BMRB postal survey of 1,610 adults living with cancer. Fieldwork conducted August - October 2012. Survey results have been weighted. Macmillan analysis of those on incomes of around £10,000 or less based on the number of people living on £199/week or less.
7. Macmillan Cancer Support/University of Bristol and TNS BMRB postal survey of 1,610 adults living with cancer. Fieldwork conducted August - October 2012. Survey results have been weighted. The survey asked people about their financial situation at the time of the survey as well as immediately before their diagnosis to calculate the absolute change in income. To adjust the calculated absolute change in income proportionately, results from a five-point scale where respondent rated the extent to which any difference (positive or negative) in their income since diagnosis was due to their diagnosis was used. Regression analysis showed that the odds of experiencing a loss of income were seven times higher among those with the lowest incomes (of less than £430 per month, or £100 per week) than those with the highest incomes (of £2,150 per month, or £500 per week, or more). The study also found that people living in the lowest-income households suffered particularly high income losses on average. However as the measure of household income relate to income at the time of the survey, this could be due in part to reductions in income due to a diagnosis can be so substantial to move those previously on moderate or even high incomes to the low income group.
8. Opinion based on anecdotal evidence and qualitative findings including Macmillan Cancer Support/YouGov research of interviews with 46 people affected by cancer, 23 (50%) of which were from low income households. Fieldwork conducted January-April 2015. The research found that those in low paid, flexible contracts, zero hour contracts, were less likely to be entitled to sick pay beyond statutory sick pay or paid holidays.
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