Cancer52 Response to Public Accounts Committee Inquiry into Government Support for Charities

7th April 2021


Cancer52 is a charity which represents nearly 100 charities working to support the 150,000 people diagnosed with rare and less common cancers every year.  Rare and less common cancers are those outside the more common cancers of breast, bowel, lung and prostate.


Nearly half of all cancers diagnosed (367,000 per annum in the UK) are rare and less common and more than half of the 166,000 deaths in the UK per annum.  


Cancer52’s member charities represent over £220 million of charitable spend and range in size from tiny, volunteer run charities with incomes of only thousands, to large multimillion-pound organisations, which invest heavily in research and support services.


When £750 million of government funding was announced last year, Cancer52 shared available information with its charity members.


Some of Cancer52 members were successful in obtaining funding via the National Lottery Fund including Cancer52 itself, Mesothelioma UK, It’s On The ball, Trekstock, Neuroendocrine Cancer UK and Ovarian Cancer Action.


Three members of Cancer52 received funding via Government funding allocated by the Department of Culture Media and Sport (Anthony Nolan Trust, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, Blood Cancer UK).


However, other Cancer52 members were not successful at obtaining funding.


There were two key problems with the disbursal of the £750 million.


  1. The National Lottery Funding application process was geared towards charities that operate within a local community. More than two thirds (more than 60) of Cancer52 charities are small charities with low incomes (below £500,000 annually) which operate across England or the UK, supporting small communities of people with rare and less common cancers. Future funding streams need to recognise that some charities support communities of people that are geographically dispersed but bound together by a common issue.


  1. There was a lack of transparency about how to obtain funding from within Government, as there did not seem to be a publicly available application process.


Cancer52 wants Government to recognise that


        Cancer52’s members are a national cancer community and a driving force behind cancer support, care and research in the UK. They are an essential part of health and social care and their existence is vital to building back the UK post the pandemic.

        The Covid-19 pandemic has adversely affected Cancer52’s charity members. Many types of fundraising activities have been affected. Income is significantly down, with many charities reporting income loss of up to 50%. A survey of Cancer52 members, of which a fifth took part, found that incomes across all respondents had fallen from £120 million in 2019-20 to £40 million in 2020-21.

        Cancer52 members provide cancer patients with support and knowledge, and fund research. They are adept at building communities across disparate and dispersed geographies. This includes online patient support groups, helplines and websites as well as face-to-face support groups and services such as counselling or advice. They are embedded in, and dedicated to, the NHS and people living with rare and less common cancers.

        Support to date from the Government has focused on local neighbourhood charities, rather than charities, like Cancer52’s members, which support communities of people nationwide. Without such charities these communities of people with a rare or less common cancer would be left with little or no support. When applying for National Lottery Funding, member charities had to take care to show that they were also supporting communities of people, though these communities might be geographically dispersed, as the Fund appeared to be more directed towards charities supporting communities in local geographic areas.

        The Government must establish a minimum £500m community fund to help charities rebuild from the pandemic, and in turn for charities to continue their work supporting people with rare and less common cancers through services and research.

        Cancer52 would like to work with the Government to develop better ways of measuring the social value of charities, so that all charitable work by all charities is recognised and counted.





7th April 2021