The charity said its support line has referred more people with cancer to food banks in recent weeks ‘than ever before’.
Macmillan Cancer Support has announced an extra £3.5 million in funding to its financial grants scheme as it deals with a rapid increase in people needing help with soaring bills.
The charity is predicting a further 16% increase in the number of people with cancer applying for a Macmillan grant in 2022.
It said that in the first six weeks of the year, it has given out more than £1.6 million in financial grants to support people living with cancer in the UK who are struggling financially – an increase of a third (33%) on the same period last year.
People often face surging bills after a cancer diagnosis, for example higher energy bills as people try to keep warm when going through treatment or the extra travel costs getting to and from appointments.
Macmillan research shows that 83% of people with cancer in the UK experience some kind of financial impact from their diagnosis, and for those affected, this reaches an average of £891 a month, on top of their usual spending.
Macmillan is urging anyone worried about money to contact the charity’s financial support teams on 0808 808 00 00, free of charge.
Lynda Thomas, chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Receiving the life-changing news that you have cancer is already a financial wrecking ball for many, as people face extra and often unexpected costs – from higher energy bills as people desperately try to keep warm during treatment, to the cost of travelling to and from appointments.
“The cost of living crisis is exacerbating these challenges and we’re hearing from more and more people with cancer worried about how they will pay their bills or put food on the table.”
Christopher Jones, energy team leader on the support line at Macmillan, said: ”Every day we’re hearing from people living with cancer who are feeling the enormous pressure of the rising cost of living, with some saying their costs have doubled, even before the upcoming energy price cap uplift.
“Our experts on the support line are reporting they’ve referred more people with cancer to food banks in recent weeks than ever before.”
Cancer patient Lara, 30, who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2019, told the charity: “We straight up can’t afford life anymore to put it truthfully and with the cost of living going up it’s terrifying.”
Ruth, 56, from Norfolk, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019 and underwent treatment during the pandemic, said: “I can’t afford to have the heating on during the day and I have to keep busy in order to stay warm.
“I also wear my dressing gown over my clothes and have fingerless gloves and a hat. At times, I go to bed and get under the duvet to stop myself from getting cold. I feel like my body has been totally wiped out by chemo at times – it has aged me several years physically and mentally. The financial pressures on top just add another layer of stress and worry.”
Sarah, from London, who was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2018, said: “I’ve been left worried sick about how I am going to pay the bills, keep a roof over my head and put food on the table.
“As a result of my treatment, I’ve also had to think about new clothes because my body has changed as well as home adjustments.”
Here are Macmillan’s tips to help people manage their finances:
– Look into how you can maximise your income through benefits and grant advice. There are several options open to cancer patients, depending on your health, household, and financial situation.
– Let your energy and water providers know that your situation could mean your consumption may go up, or your income may go down. Energy providers have a priority services register that can provide extra protections and adaptions for cancer patients. Some water providers can provide social tariffs to reduce monthly bills for people on low incomes, or who have health conditions requiring them to use more water.
– If you are on a pre-payment meter and worried you may run out of credit, contact your energy provider who may possibly add emergency credit to your account.
– While Macmillan cannot give out direct debt advice, the charity can explain the processes and signpost you to organisations to help.