Thousands of cancer patients need charity handouts to pay fuel bills

Cancer patients are becoming increasingly reliant on charity handouts to heat their homes, as they struggle to pay rising fuel bills, figures have shown.

Macmillan Cancer Support said it had made one-off payments totalling £2,548,563 to 12,669 patients to assist with fuel costs during 2011 – a sharp increase on the 7,369 needing similar help just five years ago.

The charity is calling for an ongoing independent review of fuel poverty – which was commissioned by the UK government – to prioritise cancer patients for help.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Campaign manager Laura Keely said: “To feel too scared to put the heating on because of soaring energy bills is an unacceptable reality for thousands of vulnerable cancer patients who feel the cold more and spend long periods of time at home.

“When the charity was established 100 years ago, founder Douglas Macmillan helped cancer patients by handing out sacks of coal to keep them warm.

“It is shocking that a century on, people who are diagnosed with this devastating disease are still relying on charity help to heat their freezing homes.”

Studies have shown seven in ten cancer patients aged under 55 lose income after being diagnosed, often as they are too ill to work. However, their bills often rise because they need to spend more time at home and feel the chill because of their treatment.

Certain groups of cancer patients are particularly vulnerable to fuel poverty, including those on housing benefit and council tax benefit.