Support for the cost of cancer

Half of us born after 1960 will get cancer in our lifetime. If we have been lucky enough not to have been diagnosed ourselves, it is almost certain that we will know someone close who has been.

In Parliament I have continued to raise the issue of support for the NHS cancer workforce and the importance of increasing awareness of symptoms for various types of cancer.

I was pleased to host Macmillan Cancer Support for the launch of their report ‘Cancer – a costly diagnosis?’ in Westminster. This publication focuses on the financial impact of cancer and highlights three particular policy areas; the implementation of Universal Credit, the support provided by banks and building societies to people living with cancer, and the cost of travel insurance.

As the report highlights, the welfare system provides a vital safety net for people when they need help the most. However, I am concerned to read Macmillan state where Universal Credit support is lacking in its assistance to people with cancer.

While Universal Credit reforms are helping 2.4 million working households save £630 a year, it is vital that the system supports those with cancer to help manage the financial impact of diagnosis.

The report also calls for an end to the ‘banking lottery’ so that all patients can rely on their financial services provider to provide the necessary support to manage any financial burden. A legal Duty of Care to ensure all financial services providers act in the best interests of their customers will help banks to act pre-emptively to support users.

I am also concerned to note the disproportionately high costs in the travel insurance market against those affected by cancer, with some premiums reaching £10,000 for a family holiday.

In parliamentary debates I have secured and led, I have spoken out about the psychological effect which cancer can have, and how this affects patients and their support networks.

I look forward to continuing to work with Macmillan on ensuring people with cancer receive the right support and to pressing the new government to make sure this happens.

Henry Smith MP