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Thinktank calls for advice referrals and IP auto-enrolment to ease cancer costs

Demos says financial healthcheck should be part of cancer follow-up care.

The Government should introduce financial health checks for cancer sufferers and a form of income protection automatic enrolment as part of a raft of measures to tackle the financial costs of cancer, according to cross-party thinktank Demos.

In a report published last week, Demos revealed the financial burden on cancer sufferers is equivalent to a mortgage.

A survey of 1,610 cancer sufferers shows 83 per cent suffered a financial loss, at an average of £570 a month, through factors such as loss of income.

Demos calculates this to be almost £7,000 a year, equal to the average annual cost of a mortgage in the UK, based on statistics from the Office for National Statistics.

The report calls for the Government to work with the IP industry to develop a kitemarking system of minimum standards, then give employees the option to take out IP when they are auto-enrolled into a workplace pension.

It says the kitemarking system should be done in partnership with the Government’s simple products review, which is currently working on proposals for a simple income protection product.

Demos is also calling for the NHS to introduce a financial health check as part of follow-up care after a diagnosis for cancer and other serious illnesses, similar to measures introduced in Wales last year to refer cancer patients to financial advice services.

In addition, the report says income protection and pension providers should explain clearly to employees the risk of income loss due to cancer and what they can do to protect themselves.

It also says there should be better training for frontline staff in banks to improve referral rates for cancer sufferers to specialist teams.

It says the FCA should ensure that firms are providing appropriate support to customers with long-term health conditions, and that better systems are introduced to allow people to take payment holidays while undergoing treatment. 

Demos researcher and report author Jo Salter says: “More people are surviving cancer, and employers and health services need to adapt the support they offer to reflect this new reality.”

Highclere Financial Services partner Alan Lakey says: “Financial health checks at diagnosis would be welcome, but at that stage it would be too late to take out protection.

“All they could do is make the most of the money they have. We need people to take advice before the worst happens.”

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