This week I joined Macmillan Cancer Support to discuss their new report on the financial impact of cancer entitled ‘Cancer – A Costly Diagnosis?’
The report focussed on people’s individual experiences of the financial impact of cancer and highlights three particular policy areas; the implementation of Universal Credit, the support banks and building societies give people living with cancer and the cost of travel insurance.
One in two people born after 1960 will get cancer in their lifetime, and while the physical and emotional consequences of cancer are well-known, the financial impact of a diagnosis can be devastating and 4 in 5 people are, on average, £570 a week worse off as a result of their diagnosis.
The financial impact of cancer can move someone from a position of relative security to one of financial distress within a short space of time and people living with cancer are still not getting the right support they need from the government and from financial service providers.
Without this support, the financial shock of cancer will turn into a crisis.
To help with the financial impact of cancer Macmillan are asking the Government to introduce the legal requirement of a duty of care to ensure all financial services providers act in the best interests of their customers. The Treasury Select Committee have backed these calls in their recent report looking the support our financial institutions are giving vulnerable people.
Macmillan also say the travel insurance market is stacked against those affected by cancer with many continuously facing disproportionately high costs and some premiums as high as £10,000 for a simple family holiday. Macmillan are calling for regulators to work with the insurance industry to ensure that affordable and appropriate insurance is available to people after a cancer diagnosis by conducting a full market study.
Macmillan is also concerned that Universal Credit is failing to meet the needs of people with cancer, with too many losing out on vital support. Macmillan say that their support line and face-to-face benefit advisors are telling them that Universal Credit can be difficult to apply for, challenging to get the right support and many people face long waits for payments. They are calling for the Government to make it easier for organisations like Macmillan to support people through their claim.
I will continue to work with Macmillan Cancer Support on their campaign to ensure people living with cancer get the right support and I would welcome hearing more constituents living with cancer on the impact their diagnosis has had on them.
Over 100 people, many of them living with cancer, came to the Houses of Parliament to share stories of the financial barriers they face after a diagnosis. A number of constituents also wrote to me expressing their concerns and I was delighted to be a part of the event.
It is of the utmost importance that the UK Government read this report carefully and act upon its recommendations. The mental and physical impacts of cancer are well known, but the financial implications of the disease are often overlooked. The UK Government need to review social security policy to ensure that the welfare safety net is in place for those who are diagnosed with cancer.