Managing your finances

If you are not able to work, it can affect your finances. You may need to think about:

  • Maintaining your cash flow – This might include chasing up outstanding invoices, offering customers incentives for early payments or checking your insurance policies for any possible early pay-outs.
  • Reducing your spending – You could try to cut back on unnecessary spending, but think about the long-term impact on your business.
  • Getting expert advice about your business debts and obligations – If you owe people money, you will probably have to tell them about the cancer. Be honest and realistic about when you will pay them.
  • Paying your tax – Contact HMRC if you are worried about paying your tax on time.
  • Talking to your bank – Speak to your bank manager if you expect to have problems paying any debts.

You may need external help with your finances. A good accountant can save you a lot of time and money. Ask your friends and business contacts for recommendations. Or your local Chamber of Commerce or small business group will have a list of providers.

Business finances

If you are not able to work for a while, it can have a big impact on your business finances. You may have to think about:

  • cash flow
  • how to plan your business finances
  • how much money you have available right now to meet your business expenses and to pay any staff (including yourself).

We have a video about managing finances when you run a small business, and you or one of your employees is affected by cancer.

Maintaining your cash flow

There are things you can do to make sure you are maintaining your cash flow:

  • Chase up outstanding invoices and take appropriate action against late payers.
  • Offer your customers incentives for early payment.
  • Start thinking about other sources of income – you may qualify for a grant or emergency funding to help small businesses, or members of your trade or profession.
  • Check whether you are covered by critical illness insurance or income protection insurance.
  • Check if you have insurance included within your business loans. If so, call your insurer or the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00 to talk to one of our financial guides about making a claim.

Taking on new work may not be the best solution at the moment.

Also, make sure you are claiming all of the personal state benefits you are entitled to. Our welfare rights advisers on the Macmillan Support Line may also be able to help you. You can call them on 0808 808 00 00.

Reduce your spending

Some spending, such as paying your phone bill, will be essential to keep your business going. Other things may not be necessary for a while.

  • If you will not need your premises for a while, you may be able to reach an agreement with your landlord.
  • If you rent a vehicle, check if the contract will allow you to give it back.
  • If your business involves selling merchandise, look at how you can manage your stock differently.
  • You could also negotiate with your staff so you can work shorter hours for a while. Or you could cut back on money spent on non-essential areas of the business.

Before cutting back on important spending, consider the long-term impact on your business. How much will it cost you to put those resources back into place when you are ready?

Business debts and obligations

If you are not sure how to pay your business bills or debts, you can get free, confidential advice and help from organisations such as Business Debtline. It is a good idea to get expert, independent advice before you approach your creditors or agree to new finance arrangements. Here are some tips for paying business bills or debts:

  • Do not ignore your debts. If you do not act, they will just get worse.
  • If you have insurance, such as business insurance, find out whether it will pay out now because you have cancer.
  • Create a budget that lists your income and outgoings.
  • Deal with priority debts first. This means debts where non-payment could have serious consequences, such as losing your home or business.
  • Get independent advice before you borrow any more money. The wrong decision could make your debts worse.

You may not want to tell people about the cancer, but if you owe them money or if you need to claim insurance you will probably have to. You may also be asked for a letter from your doctor confirming your diagnosis.

When you are approaching creditors, it always helps to have a plan in mind. Be open, honest and realistic about when you will pay them. Tell them where you expect the money to come from.

Paying your tax

It is important to contact Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) straight away if you are worried about paying your tax on time. If you do not contact them and you do not pay on time, you could be subject to interest and fines. If you talk to them, you may be able to delay payment of certain taxes, or pay large bills over a longer period of time. If you think your income will be lower while you have treatment, you can also ask HMRC to reduce part of your tax payments on account.

You should call the HMRC Business Payment Support Service on 0300 200 3835 if you do not think you will be able to pay your tax in full and on time. This telephone number is for customers to call before the payment deadline. If you have missed the deadline and have received a demand or a letter warning of legal action, you must contact the HMRC office that issued it. You will find the contact details on the letter or demand.

Macmillan can’t advise you on business debt and finances, but we can help you with information about personal money matters.

Talking to the bank

Contact your bank manager if you expect to have problems paying money you owe, such as:

  • an overdraft
  • a business credit card
  • a business loan.

If you are looking for funding to help you in the short term, you will need to explain why.

Before talking to your bank, be prepared to answer any questions about your health accurately. This is especially important if you have insurance through your bank. Some forms of insurance, such as travel insurance, may become invalid if you do not give all the relevant facts about your health.

Protection against discrimination

Banks are not allowed to discriminate against disabled people when they are deciding on loans. This includes people with cancer, from the time of diagnosis and for the rest of their lives. This protection comes from the Equality Act 2010 (in England, Scotland and Wales) and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (in Northern Ireland). The only case where a bank might be able treat you less favourably is if they can show you pose a greater repayment risk.

The bank also has a duty to make any changes needed to make sure people with cancer can still use their banking services.

If you think you have been treated unfairly by your bank because you have cancer, you should contact the bank’s internal complaints department first. If you are not satisfied with your bank’s response, you can refer your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service. The Equality and Human Rights Commission also has a helpline that can give you information and guidance about your rights as a person with a disability.

Expert help

You may want to look into getting external help with your finances. You may already have a bookkeeper or accountant. They can help you keep your finances under control while you are taking some time off. If you do not have this kind of help already, it might be worth thinking about.

A good accountant may save you more money than you pay them. It might also be useful to hire someone to send out your invoices and chase payments to make sure the money comes in as steadily as possible.

One of the best ways to find an accountant or bookkeeper is through personal recommendations. Ask your neighbours, friends and business contacts. Your local Chamber of Commerce or small business group will be able to give you a list of providers of these services. You can also find an accountant on the Register of Statutory Auditors, which lists accountancy firms that are approved to prepare and audit financial accounts. Go to to search for any UK location.

If you are a member of a professional body, you may find that they have a fund to help members facing problems because of their health.

The government website GOV.UK has in-depth information about running your own business in England, Scotland and Wales. Visit for practical advice on running a business in Northern Ireland and access to government services.

Help with personal finances

As well as financial support with your business finances, there is also a lot of support available to help you with your personal finances.

Macmillan’s Financial Guidance Service provides free, impartial guidance and support on all areas of personal finance, such as insurance, pensions, mortgages and financial planning. You can call the team free on 0808 808 00 00.

In some situations, it may help to contact a financial adviser to get advice on your options. A financial adviser can recommend products and decisions that may be best for you. They will charge a fee for the service, but you may decide it would be a good investment. To search for a financial adviser near you, go to or

Back to If you're self-employed

Self-employment and cancer

If you’re self-employed you may worry about work and money during your cancer treatment. Support is available to help you cope financially and emotionally.

Working during treatment

Deciding whether to carry on working during treatment is a difficult decision. It depends on individual circumstances.

Making treatment decisions

When you’re self-employed, you may have particular questions about treatment decisions and how they could impact on your work.

Managing your workload

Cancer treatment can have an impact on the way you run your business. You may need to reorganise your activities to manage your workload.