Cancer sufferers come under undue financial pressure because of a lack of support from banks and building societies, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.
The charity has today called upon the government to change the law in order to ensure banks and building societies have a legal obligation to do more to help the most vulnerable customers.
With the Financial Guidance and Claims Bill currently going through parliament, Macmillan is urging the government to change the law so that banks and financial service providers offer specialised and tailored support including flexibility around products such as mortgages, credit cards, and loans.
The charity says it has seen a rise in the number of grants it gives to cancer patients in the last five years – it’s given £50 million over this period.
This, coupled with growing inflation, rising housing costs, and welfare reform has created a “financial storm” for the those least likely to be able to weather it.
As little as one in ten (11%) cancer sufferers inform their bank of their health status, principally because they did not realise that their provider would be able to help, or they were worried that it would affect them negatively in the process.
Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support comments: “The sheer number of cancer patients turning to Macmillan for financial support shows just how many are struggling to keep financially afloat.
“When their income plummets and their outgoings rocket, people living with cancer can be left grappling with how to make ends meet. A financial storm of economic uncertainty and changes to benefits are likely to have heightened these fears.
“Macmillan will always support people with cancer, but we can’t keep plugging these growing gaps on our own. Everyone has their part to play. Banks can help us tackle the problem by offering cancer patients early and tailored support.”
Cancer costs patients £570 per month
According to the charity, the average cost to cancer patients of their condition is £570 per month. The illness often leads to a loss of income and increased expenses such as travel, heating, and clothing bills.
In July, Moneywise reported that Lloyds Banking Group had teamed up with Macmillan to help customers affected by the disease. The charity trained a ‘Cancer Support Team’ at the bank to provide bespoke support to affected customers.
Macmillan also has a similar partnership in place for customers of Nationwide building society, but the charity feels that more needs to be done to support cancer sufferers financially.
Ms Thomas adds: "We know progress has been made but we think a change in the law will provide more consistent support to financially vulnerable cancer patients to prevent their finances spiralling out of control.”