Cancer costs: financial impact of childhood cancer revealed

Cancer in children and young people costs families an extra £600 a month on average, putting massive strain on budgets and causing many to fall into debt.

Cancer costs: financial impact of childhood cancer revealed

Research carried out by children and young people’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent has revealed that costs can spiral when a child is diagnosed with cancer.

  • Families spend extra £600 a month when child is treated for cancer
  • Many plunge into debt as a result of extra costs
  • Travel and food biggest additional spend

The charity has launched a new report Cancer costs: The financial impact of treatment on young cancer patients and their families (1) and is campaigning for the Government, banks and energy suppliers to take action and help ease the financial burden when a child is diagnosed with cancer.

CLIC Sargent’s research reveals three in five parents surveyed ended up in debt as a result of a child’s cancer diagnosis – with one in six borrowing more than £5,000. The average extra spend of £600 per month is close to a third of the average UK monthly income, often putting a major strain on family budgets (2).

Treatment for children and young people's cancer can be miles from home at specialist treatment hospitals, requiring families to stay away from home for long periods of time, or embark on regular long distance travel.

These travel costs and additional food are the biggest extra expenditure but families also find themselves spending more on clothing, parking and accommodation while having to keep up with regular bills including mortgage, rent and energy.

The survey found cancer in children and young people also affected household income with 42% of parents stopping working after their child was diagnosed with cancer and 49% experiencing a loss of earnings. All this is on top of the worry and emotional impact that cancer diagnosis brings with three quarters of parents (76%) CLIC Sargent surveyed also reporting that managing their finances caused additional stress and anxiety.

In addition families reported that the benefit system was not fit for purpose for young cancer patients or their needs, often taking too long and still leaving families with a financial shortfall.

CLIC Sargent provides a £170 grant to families following diagnosis, to help with initial costs, and gave out £1.1 million in grants in 2015/16. It also provides free accommodation at 10 Homes from Home around the UK near hospitals where children are treated for cancer.

But the charity says more needs to be done and is calling on the government, banks and energy suppliers to provide more assistance to affected families.

It is calling for:

  • A review of travel assistance available to parents and young people, with recommendations for reform to be made by the end of 2017
  • Immediate financial support to be provided from the point of diagnosis to every patient
  • Financial services and energy companies to review their vulnerable customers policies to ensure they include parents of children with cancer and young cancer patients.

Kate Lee, Chief Executive of CLIC Sargent, said: “The pressure of managing finances causes considerable stress and anxiety during what is an already impossible time for families. This is not right or fair.

“Following the initial shock of diagnosis, treatment often starts immediately and can take place far from home. Suddenly families see their lives transform, as their priorities shift to support their child through their illness.

As our report reveals, hundreds of families are struggling to keep their heads above water financially and need more help.

“CLIC Sargent will continue be there for as many children and families as we can by providing practical and financial support but more needs to be done to ease this financial burden and help these families cope with the impact of cancer on their lives.

"That is why we are calling on the Government, banks, energy and transport companies to implement a series of measures that will make a real difference to families coping with childhood cancer."

CLIC Sargent has launched a petition to Prime Minister Theresa May to act now to ease the financial burden of childhood cancer. To sign the petition visit

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Lidl UK has raised £1million for children and young people’s cancer support charity CLIC Sargent and is the lead sponsor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Daniela Tulip, Head of CSR at Lidl UK, said: “CLIC Sargent’s research has highlighted the very real issue of the cost of cancer for families across the UK.

"As headline sponsor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Lidl UK is proud to support CLIC Sargent in its bid to ease this financial burden and make life that little bit easier for families struggling to cope with a childhood cancer diagnosis.

“Lidl recently achieved its target of raising £1 million for CLIC Sargent, six months ahead of schedule. This amount has enabled CLIC Sargent to fund 40,000 hours of care for children and young people, and their families, who are going through cancer treatment.” 

- Ends –

(1) Survey carried out by 279 parents and 149 young people, recruited through CLIC Sargent networks, care professionals and social media. 

(2) Based on ONS–LMSB SA AWE Total Pay WE. Released 17.8.16. Average weekly pre-tax income of £502. Series ID: KAB9 

For more information, an interview or images please contact Nick Edmondson on 020 8752 2856 or email: Outside office hours please call 08448 481189.

Cancer Costs Report

Two online surveys were carried out by 279 parents and 149 young people recruited through CLIC Sargent’s networks, our care professionals and social media. All percentages reported are drawn from the number of people who answered each question, not the total sample size.

About cancer in children and young people

Every day, 10 children and young people in the UK hear the shocking news they have cancer. Treatment normally starts immediately, is often given many miles from home and can last for up to three years. Although survival rates are over 80%, cancer remains the single largest cause of death from disease in children and young people in the UK.

About CLIC Sargent

CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, and their families. We provide clinical, practical and emotional support to help them cope with cancer and get the most out of life. For more information visit

Note to sub editors

Please note that the name ‘CLIC Sargent’ should not be abbreviated to CLIC, and that the word ‘CLIC’ should always appear in capitals, as above.

About Lidl

Since establishing itself in the UK in 1994, Lidl has grown consistently and today has over 630 stores in England, Scotland and Wales. Voted ‘Best Supermarket 2016’ by readers of Good Housekeeping, Lidl has experienced continued growth with over 6 million British shoppers now flocking to the supermarket each week, half a million more, per week, than in 2015. The family supermarket takes pride in providing top quality products at the lowest possible prices throughout the country from Kirkwall to the Isle of Wight. Regular world food themes give customers a chance to excite their taste buds with a range of produce from all over the world including the South of France, Italy, Poland and Cornwall and in recent years Lidl’s seasonal wine collection has been embraced by the British public, enabling households up and down the country to buy premium wines at incredible value. Whilst its roots may be in Germany, Lidl UK is passionate about working with British producers and two thirds of its products are sourced from the UK. In addition to food, Lidl also has bi-weekly special offer promotions on products ranging from cycling gear to hiking accessories, kitchen gadgets to BBQs. These offers change on a Thursday and Sunday and are subject to availability. For more information and a convenient store locator, please visit