20 October 2015
Today, Nationwide Building Society, in association with Macmillan Cancer Support, launches a first of its kind support service for people affected by cancer. The service demonstrates the vital role the financial industry can play in supporting customers with cancer.
Cancer is an expensive disease. Almost 400,000 people living with cancer each year struggle to keep up with household bills and credit1,2 and Macmillan research shows four in five (83%) cancer patients are hit with an additional average cost of £5703 a month as a result of their illness, comparable to a monthly mortgage payment.
This is due to having to take time off work for medical appointments or being unable to work due to treatment. Other costs incurred from a cancer diagnosis can include increased heating and water bills and a change in dietary or clothing requirements.
Nationwide’s new Specialist Support Service was set up in response to Macmillan’s 2014 Counting on Your Support Report4, which set out nine recommendations to the financial industry to ease the financial burden of cancer.
The report found that 95% of cancer patients don’t contact their bank or building society when faced with financial difficulty for fear of not getting any help or worse, that their diagnosis will have a negative impact on their financial situation. Of those who did make contact over a third (36%) said their provider wasn’t able to offer them support.
The new service provides tailored one-to-one support for members and customers affected by cancer with the information and support they need when it comes to making informed decisions about their finances following a cancer diagnosis. This includes immediate requests for support to the longer-term management of financial difficulties – from current accounts to mortgages.
Nationwide member, Mandy Connor, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015, said: “My diagnosis earlier in the year meant taking time off work for treatment and recovery, and that brought with it changes to my income I wasn’t prepared for. As a result I was spending as much time worrying about my financial situation as my health.
“As a Nationwide customer, I was put in contact with the new Specialist Support Service to help me manage my money. They were friendly and fully understood my situation, offering to monitor my current account income and outgoings for me to ensure I didn’t fall behind on bills and payments. They cancelled overdraft fees and would keep an eye on payments so didn’t need to.
“We now speak regularly to check how things are going and it’s a huge help at a difficult time. Rather than worrying about my money, I can focus on getting better and getting back to work.”
Graham Beale, Nationwide’s Chief Executive, said: “If you’re diagnosed with cancer, the last thing on your mind should be money. But for many it can dominate their lives as much as the practical and emotional consequences of living with cancer.
“We recognise that making financial decisions at the best of times can be tough enough, but that a little extra support can go a long way to making these decisions easier when you or a loved one is affected by cancer. Through our partnership with Macmillan, we’re aiming to provide support when it matters most and offer flexible, one-to-one service that really can make a difference.
“It’s our hope what’s worked for us can work for others in the sector and that – in the coming months – we’ll be able to extend the service to other life-threatening or life-limiting conditions.”
Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “The banking industry has a vital role to play in helping to minimise the financial impact of cancer yet the majority of people with cancer report that when they go to their financial provider they are not receiving the help and support that they need.
“It’s great that Nationwide’s Specialist Support Service is addressing the challenges people affected by cancer often experience in accessing the right support from their financial providers. By implementing our simple and practical recommendations like providing better support to customers via front line staff, banks and building societies can make a huge difference to the lives of people living with cancer, but we still need the whole industry to come together and adopt these solutions so that no one living with cancer faces financial worries alone.”