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Money worries caused by cancer
I have seen people affected by cancer putting on a brave face, comforting their children, assuring them everything with be okay, all the while grappling with fears about what their treatment will involve or if they’ll pull through. But that’s not all: recent figures revealed by Macmillan Cancer Support show that, on top of this, people affected by cancer across the UK are also dealing with money worries caused by their cancer diagnosis.
Macmillan has contributed £50m to help keep cancer patients from financial meltdown in the last five years The number of Macmillan grants given out to patients for clothing, heating and other vital items has risen sharply over the last five years, with the charity providing more than a staggering £50m¹ to help keep cancer patients from financial meltdown. Between 2012 and 2016, the charity provided almost £13 million to clothe cancer patients who often experience weight loss or gain during cancer treatment. And around £14.5 million to help cancer patients pay their fuel bills. The charity says a “financial storm” of inflation², rising housing costs³ and welfare reform⁴ could have exacerbated people’s financial difficulties during this time, forcing them to turn to charities for support. This paints a stark picture of how many people living with cancer are in financial crisis, turning to charities like Macmillan as a last resort, and this needs to be addressed urgently.
Last year my husband had a cancer scare and, although we were incredibly lucky and it turned out to be a false alarm, I had a fleeting glimpse into the life of someone affected by cancer. I can only imagine what it must feel like to have to worry about paying for clothing or heating on top of the immediate concern for his health.
A growing problem
By 2020, almost half of the population will have a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, leaving more and more people in financially desperate situations. Everyone has a role to play to make sure the financial shock of cancer doesn’t turn into a crisis, and the banking sector is no exception.
By 2020, almost half of the population will have a cancer diagnosis in their lifetimeThe banking sector’s huge reach presents a unique opportunity to help people deal with the financial impact of cancer diagnosis and treatment. Banks can play an important role in ensuring that cancer patients don’t miss out on vital support that could prevent them from falling into financial difficulty. There has been some progress in the work banks are doing, but there is still much more to be done.
With the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill currently going through parliament, Macmillan is urging the Government to change the law so that banks and other financial service providers have a legal duty of care to their customers. This could see banks fulfilling a legal duty to act with customers’ best interests in mind by providing specialised and tailored support including flexibility around products such as mortgages, credit cards and loans, to help manage the financial impact of their diagnosis better. This change in the law could encourage people to seek help from their bank earlier, knowing that they have a legal duty to act in their best interests, and prevent money worries from spiralling out of control.