5 September 2023


Guardian sponsored research conducted by charity Young Lives vs Cancer

Key findings of the research

  • Having cancer can add almost £700 a month to outgoings for young cancer patients and their families
  • The majority may also suffer a loss of income and earnings as a result of reducing hours or taking time off for treatment
  • For almost a third, this loss of income and earnings is £10,000 or more
  • Nearly a third of households said at least one of the adults had to stop work entirely following the young person’s cancer diagnosis

New research sponsored by Guardian and conducted by cancer charity, Young Lives vs Cancer, finds the financial cost of having a child with cancer is significant, with the average additional costs for young cancer patients and their families hitting almost £700 a month. These hefty additional costs – referred to in the report as ‘the cancer premium’ – often coincide with the need for those affected to reduce hours or take time off to attend treatment or look after their child. This results in a simultaneous financial impact – referred to as ‘the cancer penalty’.

The cancer premium

Of the almost £700 a month of additional expenses for households following a young person’s cancer diagnosis, travel was found to be the biggest single additional expense at a monthly average of £250, reflecting the need to get to appointments and treatment. Food was the second biggest additional monthly expense at £144, followed by energy bills at £68, clothing at £56, toys and treats at £48, and childcare for other siblings at £30, all of which were incurred as a direct result of attending or recovering from cancer treatment. Parking was found to add a monthly £24, additional telephone bills £15, and accommodation £14 a month.

Not only are these additional monthly costs high, but they’ve also risen in recent years, with the figures in 2023 representing a 15% increase for young cancer patients and their families compared to similar research run by the charity in 2017. As described by one of the parents contacted during the 2023 research: “It’s a huge strain mentally and physically. Having a child be diagnosed and go through treatment and hospital stays and horrific side-effects is literally the worst thing any parent can face. Having to do this whilst holding down jobs, normality for our other child and trying to hold everything together to pay a rising mortgage, bills etc… in a cost-of-living crisis and the added costs of travel, parking and food for treatment, has put a huge strain on us financially and as a family.”

The cancer penalty

On top of the cancer premium, over two thirds (71%) of the young cancer patients and their families contacted during the research had experienced loss of income or earnings because they needed to make changes to their work schedule, with the average loss reported as more than £6,000 a yearFor nearly a third (31%), the fall in their income and earnings was even bigger, with a loss of £10,000 or more. Of the households with someone employed prior to the diagnosis, for nearly a third (32%) the income losses resulted from at least one of the adults stopping work entirely.

Rachael Welsh, Guardian’s Head of Marketing, has been working with the charity to commission the research. She said: “It’s sad and shocking to think that, on top of the emotional turmoil of having a child with cancer, the families of these young people must find almost £700 a month on top of their normal outgoings to simply cover the cost of their child having the illness. It’s even more worrying when you consider that alongside this extra expense, over two thirds of the families affected are also impacted by a significant loss of income and earnings as they take time off to attend treatment and to look after their child. They’re being hit financially by both a cancer premium and a cancer penalty.”

“No family should have to go through financial hardship at the very time they’re dealing with their child’s cancer. At Guardian we believe every family should be able to put in place something to protect against the negative financial impact of their child being seriously ill, and that’s why we offer optional Children’s Critical Illness Protection. This cover can be added to any of our adult covers – including Life Protection and Income Protection – to give families the peace of mind that should their child become seriously ill, money won’t be something that adds to their worries.”

Rachel Kirby-Rider, Chief Executive at Young Lives vs Cancer, said: “The impact of a young person having cancer is devastating on so many levels, and this research shows just how difficult it can be for families financially. The financial support that young people and their families are entitled to rarely covers the additional financial burden, and that’s before you consider any lost income as a result of young people and parents needing to reduce hours or take time off. This is why Young Lives vs Cancer exists: to raise awareness of the issues faced by young cancer patients and their families, and to support them to face everything that cancer throws at them.”

Guardian’s partner fundraising event and adviser awareness campaign

To further support Young Lives vs Cancer, Guardian is holding a fundraising event in London this week with many key partners. Partners attending are invited to donate directly to the charity, helping to support young people with cancer and their families. Guardian is also using the event to launch an awareness campaign within the protection industry to highlight the significant and often unexpected costs to families of having a child with cancer. The protection challenger brand hopes the research findings will help highlight the need for more advisers to discuss children’s critical illness cover with their clients, to help prevent families from falling into financial hardship if their child becomes seriously ill.

-Release ends-

Notes to editors:

Press enquiries to Natalie Robinson, 07789 501146,

The research involved an online survey with a total of 259 participants and follow-up interviews. The participants included parents or caregivers of children and young people under 27, as well as young people aged 18 to 26, who have undergone cancer treatment and care within the past two years.

Guardian Financial Services is an appointed representative of Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority.

All products are provided by Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited and we have an agreement with them to underwrite and issue the protection policies we distribute through the UK intermediary channel.

As an appointed representative of Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited, Guardian Financial Services Limited is the market-facing brand under which we promote our proposition and engage with advisers.

Background to Guardian Financial Services, owned by Gryphon Group Holdings

Guardian, the life and protection insurance business, launched in 2018 and pledged to grow the protection market. The brand promise of ‘Life. Made Better.’ reflects the company’s commitment to rethink and reinvent protection for the better; making sure customers get cover that’s easier to understand, simple to buy and designed to never let them down.

Guardian’s business partners

Gryphon Group Holdings is majority owned by Punter Southall Group as the largest equity capital investor. Guardian partners with UnderwriteMe for its Underwriting Engine, Liss Systems, the UK arm of Nasdaq-listed EXL, for its policy administration technology, and Space, for its front-end technology, branding and marketing. Guardian’s reinsurance partners are Hannover Re and Gen Re.