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 expenditure.
Although many people face the extra, and often unexpected, costs a cancer diagnosis can bring, almost one in four (23%) people living with cancer in the UK – almost 700,000 people – have found it easier to talk about their cancer itself than the impact it has had on their finances.
Money can be a tricky subject for many people to talk about and an extra worry when dealing with a cancer diagnosis. That’s why we want to encourage people affected by cancer to reach out to our Virgin Money Macmillan Guides who are there to offer emotional and financial support.
Virgin Money Macmillan Guides Link opens in a new window, a first of their kind in the industry, are customer-facing Virgin Money colleagues, who have volunteered to be Guides. Each person has received bespoke training from Macmillan to help them support people affected by or living with cancer. Guides offer emotional support, information and signposting to further help available from Macmillan, Virgin Money and beyond. This incredible service is available to everyone, regardless of whether you are a Virgin Money customer or not.
On top of the financial impact a cancer diagnosis can bring, Covid-19 and the cost of living crisis has created additional challenges for people living with cancer over the past two years. In fact, those who have found it easier to talk about their diagnosis rather than the impact it’s having on their finances are around twice as likely to have seen their household finances affected by Covid-19 and the current cost of living crisis.
"My diagnosis was such a shock and having to struggle with my finances on top of worrying about the cancer was a lot to take on. At a time when childcare responsibilities and the pandemic meant I was without employment, there was just no time to budget for the added expenses of cancer that came my way, including the wigs, clothing and other items that would help me retain some comfort and dignity through my illness.
I really struggled to talk about my financial situation until I spoke to Macmillan. My Macmillan Welfare Benefits Adviser, Debbie, literally did everything for me – from arranging a one-off grant, to applying for benefits. In the end, opening up about my finances was the best thing I could have done and gave me one less thing to worry about."
For those who may be worried about their finances, Richard Manson, Financial Guidance Specialist on Macmillan’s Support Line has provided his top five tips to help people get their financial house in order:
1. Complete a budget
A budget can help you stay in control of your finances; if your spending is higher than your income, you may need to think about making some changes. It can also be useful if you need to contact your bank because they will want to know as much information as possible about your financial situation before seeing what support they can offer.
2. Contact your bank
Whilst the support you may be offered can vary between banks depending on your personal situation and their policies, it’s helpful to contact them and find out what they can do for you. Don’t forget we have our specially trained Virgin Money Macmillan Guides Link opens in a new window who can offer financial and emotional support whether you’re a customer or not.
3. Check your insurance
Some insurance policies, such as critical illness, will make a payment for a cancer diagnosis and a life insurance policy will often include terminal illness benefits, which may allow an early claim if your doctor expects a prognosis of less than 12 months. Even if you’re unable to claim, some policies will include additional benefits that can be accessed after a diagnosis, such as waiver of premium which will pay the insurance premium if you cannot work because of illness or disability.
4. Ensure you have an up to date will
Everyone should have a will regardless of their age or health. A valid will ensures that the right people inherit and that your loved ones don’t suffer unnecessary hardship. A will can also be used to arrange affairs tax efficiently and to appoint people to sort out an estate following a death.
5. Review your private or occupational pension
If you need to retire or leave work due to ill health, thinking about your pension options is useful for many different reasons. If you haven’t already, you may be able to access your pension because of your age or health circumstances. It’s also important to make sure that you have filled out an expression of wish form. This tells the trustees of the scheme where any death benefits should be paid if the worst happens. Pension scheme rules vary and the decisions you make will affect your family’s financial future so it’s important to get financial advice before you make any decisions.
“It’s time to normalise the conversation around cancer and money. Many people living with cancer don’t feel comfortable talking to people around them, and they may even avoid talking to their bank through fear of being penalised. But there is support out there to help people take control and make good financial decisions. Our team of in-store and over the phone Macmillan Guides are specially trained by Macmillan and are ready to offer practical support to help anyone affected by or living with cancer.”
For financial guidance and support you can contact Macmillan’s Support Line (0808 808 00 00), seven days a week, 8am-8pm, or you can get in touch with a Virgin Money Macmillan Guide Link opens in a new window today in store, over the phone or via webchat.
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