20 December 2012
Around 27,000 cancer patients in the UK could be behind with paying their fuel bills  and owe their fuel providers as much as £2.8million in overdue payments , according to new research by Macmillan Cancer Support.
A YouGov poll of cancer patients in the UK reveals that over half (54%) of those diagnosed within the last two years are worried about the cost of heating their homes this winter.
Three in ten (30%) said that they have had to turn off the heating in the last three months even when they needed it on to keep their fuel bills down.
Worryingly, one in three (34%) surveyed said that they had even put on outdoor clothes indoors to try to keep warm.
This is all despite the fact that people going through cancer treatment feel the cold more and spend long periods of time at home.
Gail, 50 from London, was diagnosed with gynaecological cancer in 2009 and again in 2012, she says:
“I’ve always paid my way but since my first cancer diagnosis three years ago I had to give up my job and it’s been a financial nightmare of debt. I’m still struggling to pay off my fuel bills from last year. It means a cold home because I can’t afford the heating, wrapping up in extra layers of clothes and worrying about my sons getting ill as a result. At one point I couldn’t sleep for four nights worrying about it all.”
Mike Hobday, Director of Policy and Research at Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
“Our research shows just how dire the financial situation has become for some people living with cancer in the UK. Thousands of cancer patients are falling behind with their energy bills and resorting to turning the heating off, even though it’s vital for their recovery that they keep warm.
“Cancer patients simply cannot afford to meet rising fuel prices at a time when many suffer a loss of income - it is appalling that they are being punished for their condition. It’s high time we put a stop to cancer patients suffering in fuel poverty.”
If you’re worried about paying your fuel bills and need information or support, call 0808 808 00 00 or visit www.macmillan.org.uk/heating.
For further information, please contact:
Claire Keuls, Media & PR Officer,
020 7840 4872 (out of hours 07801 307 068)
Notes to Editors:
1. Macmillan/YouGov online survey of 2,142 UK adults living with cancer. Fieldwork was undertaken between 26 November and 14 December 2012. Results in this release are based on the 535 respondents who have been diagnosed within the last 2 years. 5% of this group said they were currently in debt to their heating provider. The number of cancer patients are estimated for the UK as those diagnosed in a year plus those surviving one year. Cancer incidence data for 2010 for the UK are taken from Office for National Statistics; Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland; Welsh Cancer Intelligence & Surveillance Unit; Northern Ireland Cancer Registry. One year survival for England is assumed to be equivalent across the UK and applied to cancer incidence, one year survival is taken from the Office for National Statistics for patients diagnosed in 1996-2010 and followed up to 2011.
2. Of the 5% of respondents who said that they are currently in debt to their heating provider:
23% owe more than £200
15% owe between £101-£200
38% owe £50-£100
23% owe less than £50
Based on the estimate of cancer patients diagnosed in a year plus those surviving one year patients diagnosed within the last two years, Macmillan estimates that the total amount of debt could be as high as £2.8million. Debt figures calculated using the mid-point of each band, and £200 for the ‘more than £200’ band.
Macmillan Cancer Support works closely with npower and together have developed the Fuel Management Programme to lift people affected by cancer out of fuel poverty. Together we provide assistance with bills and arrears as well as energy efficiency advice. Over 1,150 npower customers have received help from the programme. If you are an npower customer and spending more than 10% of your income on fuel or for information about how Macmillan can help you visit Macmillan.org.uk/heating.
About Macmillan Cancer Support
Cancer is the toughest fight most of us will ever face. But you don’t have to go through it alone. The Macmillan team is with you every step of the way.
We are the nurses and therapists helping you through treatment. The experts on the end of the phone. The advisers telling you which benefits you’re entitled to. The volunteers giving you a hand with the everyday things. The campaigners improving cancer care. The fundraisers who make it all possible.
We are Macmillan Cancer Support