Managing your finances

Maintaining the financial balance of your business can be particularly stressful when you have to cut down your work activity.  You may be able to apply for a grant or be covered by income protection insurance, which may help bring in some money. Consider whether you can cut some spendings and reduce some costs.

You may have business debts or obligations to pay. Don’t ignore them, it will make things worse. It may be helpful to contact a specialist adviser. They can give you advice to help you discuss new repayment arrangements with your creditors. Contact Business Debtline.

If you’re concerned about your tax payment, contact HMRC. They can help you spread out installments over a longer period of time. You should contact your bank manager if you think you might struggle paying the money you owe. Under UK law, banks are not allowed to discriminate against disabled people or treat you less favourably because of a cancer diagnosis.

It may be a good idea to ask a bookkeeper or an accountant to look after your finances while you’re taking time off. They’ll help you save money effectively.

Maintaining your cash flow

If you are not able to work for a while, it can have a big impact on your financial situation. You may have to think about cash flow.

  • Chase up outstanding invoices.
  • Start thinking about alternative sources of income – you may qualify for a grant or emergency funding to help small businesses, or members of your trade or profession.
  • You could be covered by critical illness insurance or income protection insurance. Check if you have insurance included within your business loans. If so, now’s the time to talk to your insurer about making a claim.

Taking on new work is probably not the best solution at the moment. Also make sure you are claiming all of the personal state benefits you are entitled to.

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 won't need your premises for a period of time, you may be able to reach an agreement with your landlord.
  • If you are hiring a vehicle, check if the contract will allow you to give it back.
  • Look at how you can manage your stock differently if your business involves selling merchandise.
  • You could also negotiate with your staff to work shorter hours for a period of time, or 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 and how much it will cost you to put those resources back into place when you're ready.

Business debts and obligations

If you’re 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’s a good idea to get expert, independent advice before you approach your creditors or agree to new finance arrangements.

  • Don’t ignore your debts. If you don’t act, they will just get worse.
  • If you have insurance, such as critical illness insurance, business insurance or payment protection insurance, find out whether it will pay out now because you have cancer.
  • Make sure you’re claiming all of the personal state benefits you’re entitled to. Our cancer support specialists on 0808 808 00 00 may be able to help you.
  • 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 the loss of 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 your 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’re approaching creditors, it always helps to have a plan in mind. Be open, honest and realistic about when payments will be made, and tell them where you expect the money to come from.

Paying your tax

It is important to contact HMRC straight away if you’re worried about paying your tax on time. You may be able to make arrangements with them to delay payment of certain taxes, or to 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 future tax payments. There’s a special helpline for anyone struggling to pay their business or personal taxes.

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

If you anticipate problems paying your bank the money you owe (for example, your overdraft, business credit card or business loan), you will need to talk to your bank manager. If you’re looking for funding to help you in the short term, you’ll need to explain why.

Before approaching your bank, be prepared to answer any questions about your health. Any information you provide must be accurate. If you have insurance through your bank, for example, this could become invalid if the information you give the bank is incorrect or if you don’t give all the important facts about your health.

If you think you have been treated unfairly by your bank because you have cancer, you should contact the bank’s own internal complaints department first. If you are not satisfied with your bank’s response, you can refer your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service, visit 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. The Equality Act in England, Wales and Scotland and the Disability Discrimination Act in Northern Ireland mean that, when banks are deciding on loans, they are not allowed to discriminate against disabled people. This includes people with cancer, from the time of diagnosis and then for the rest of their lives. Your bank can’t offer you different terms because you have cancer. The bank also has a duty to make any changes needed to make sure people with cancer can still use their banking services.

Expert help

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

A good accountant will 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 or the ICAEW (Institute for Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) website If you’re a member of a professional body, you may find that they have a fund to help members facing problems as a result of their health.

The government services and information website has in-depth information about running your own business and financial issues you may face.

You can use the checklist below to identify the support you may need with your business finances, and to come up with some ideas about who can help.

Download a blank checklist [PDF, 179kb].

Personal finances

Cancer can have a significant impact on your personal finances. Make sure you are claiming all of the personal state benefits you are entitled to. You can call us for personal financial support on 0808 808 00 00.

Protection from discrimination, harassment and victimisation

The Equality Act 2010 has replaced discrimination laws in England, Scotland and Wales – including the Disability Discrimination Act – bringing them together in one place.

The Disability Discrimination Act still protects people with a disability in Northern Ireland.

Under the Equality Act, it’s unlawful to discriminate against someone because of their disability. Everyone with cancer is classed as disabled under the act, from the time of diagnosis and then for the rest of their lives. The act includes protection for self-employed people against any discrimination, including cancer-related. It also protects you against harassment or victimisation when using goods and services, and education and transport.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has a helpline that can give you information and guidance about your rights as a person with a disability.

Back to If you are self-employed

Self-employment and cancer

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

Working during treatment

Cancer treatments can cause side effects of symptoms at work. There are ways to make things easier for you.

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.