Charity warns of poverty problems created by cancer

One in five Londoners with cancer have no savings to cushion the financial impact of the illness, according to research by Macmillan Cancer Support, which is offer a range of advice and support for those affected and needing help.

Rodrigo Fenick Figueroa is part of the charity team offering help to cancer patients

Rodrigo Fenick Figueroa is part of the charity team offering help to cancer patients

The charity’s report, No Small Change, shows money worries can affect people with cancer when they least expect it. It warns that a lack of financial safety net could leave an estimated 38,000 people with cancer in London vulnerable to hardship due to the unexpected cost of cancer.

Those diagnosed with cancer may face significant loss of income from being too unwell to work, additional travel costs to and from hospital appointments, and increased heating bills. Previous research by the charity has shown, for the majority of people, cancer costs an average of £570 a month in lost income or increased expenditure.

Ed Tallis, the head of services for Macmillan Cancer Support in London said: “It is worrying that so many Londoners don’t have savings and could therefore be financially vulnerable if they were to get cancer.

“It’s difficult to save at the best of times and when you’re going through cancer the last thing you want to worry about is if you can put food on the table or keep a roof over your head. It’s important that people know, if they were to get cancer, Macmillan is here to help with money worries.”

In Croydon and south-west London, Macmillan provides a range of support for people financially affected by cancer via the Macmillan Citizens Advice Service.

The team provides free and impartial advice on benefits and tax credits and help to apply, accessing charitable grants, applying for transport concessions and advice on employment, housing matters, as well as signposting to other organisations for specialist help. The project covers Croydon University Hospital, St George’s Hospital, Kingston Hospital and Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals.

The charity also provides a free national telephone support line where people affected by cancer with money worries can access benefits advice, energy advice, financial guidance (on mortgage, pension, insurance, and financial planning options) and means-tested grants.

The helpline number is: 0808 808 00 00.

South-west London Macmillan case worker, Rodrigo Fenick Figueroa, said: “People are often quite surprised at how much their finances can be affected after receiving a cancer diagnosis. It’s often the last thing you would think about, but having cancer can be expensive.

“We are here to offer free, confidential advice to patients, carers and family members about benefits and charitable grants that may be available. If people need further financial advice – on things like debt, employment, budgeting or energy bills – we can refer them to other specialist services that can help.”

Anyone affected by cancer in south-west London and worried about money can access the Macmillan Citizens Advice Service by calling 020 042 0332.

To find out more about the wider financial impact of cancer, read the policy report and get support visit

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