7 January 2011
This winter a quarter of people living with cancer (24%) have had to, or expect to have to, wear their coats or other outdoor clothing indoors to keep their fuel bills down, and one in five (19%) have or will have to stay in bed to keep warm.
Even more worrying is that one in fourteen (7%) have already got, or expect to get into debt so they can pay their fuel bills.
The shocking new research by leading cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Support comes as it calls for terminally ill cancer patients to be given help to pay their fuel bills via the Government’s new Warm Home Discount scheme.
Macmillan is urging the Government to include terminally ill cancer patients in the core group who will automatically receive an energy rebate to avoid the stress and difficulties involved in them having to apply for it.
The public also back the call, with nine out of ten people (89%) agreeing that vulnerable cancer patients should be supported through the scheme.
Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support says;
‘Paying fuel bills is one of the biggest worries for cancer patients. It’s unacceptable that in today’s society cancer patients, who feel the cold more and spend long periods of time at home, are still freezing but are too scared to put the heating on because of rising fuel bills.
‘We want the Government to help the most vulnerable cancer patients, such as people who are terminally ill, by ensuring they qualify for the Warm Home Discount that energy companies will have to provide from April next year.
‘With energy prices set to rise and freezing temperatures across the country it’s more important than ever that vulnerable cancer patients are given extra help to pay their fuel bills.’
Heidi, 37, from Cheshire, who has been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer says:
‘My immune system is so weakened but I can’t afford to keep warm all the time. I’m always in debt and behind payments for my energy bills. It makes me panic. I have to cover myself in blankets and hot water bottles to help keep my joints warm.
‘I wish the government would realise that it’s not just the old who get cancer and suffer the cold.’
For further information, please contact:
Rebecca Openshaw, Macmillan Cancer Support
Tel: 0207 840 4699 (Out of hours 07801 307 068)
Notes to editors:
YouGov online survey of 1,799 UK adults living with cancer. Fieldwork took place 9-20th December 2010. Survey results are unweighted.
GFK NOP telephone survey of 962 UK adults aged 16+. Fieldwork took place 17-19th December 2010. Survey results have been weighted to reflect the UK population profile.
On 2nd December, the Government launched a consultation to seek views proposals for the Warm Home Discount scheme. The consultation will close on 14th January. This covers England, Scotland and Wales.
Macmillan Cancer Support wants the Government to include terminally ill cancer patients in the ‘core group’ who will receive the rebate automatically to avoid the stress and difficulties involved in people with a terminal illness applying for support.
The Warm Home Discount (previously Mandatory Social Price Support Scheme) will from April 2011 require the six biggest energy providers in England, Wales and Scotland to provide a rebate to certain customers who are identified as being vulnerable to fuel poverty.
The scheme will replace energy provider’s existing voluntary social support schemes and will run until 2014/15. In year one the scheme will be worth £250m, which will increase to £310m by year four.
The Government has failed to meet its target to end fuel poverty in all vulnerable households in England by 2010 and it’s likely they won’t reach their second target of 2016. Before the end of the year, it will initiate an independent review of the fuel poverty target and definition.
How people with cancer affected by fuel poverty?
Cancer patients have high fuel bills because they’re likely to feel the cold more and spend more time at home during treatment or recovery. This increase in bills comes at a time when their household income has usually dropped because they’re not working. The groups of cancer patients who are particularly vulnerable to fuel poverty are people who are terminally ill, undergoing treatment or are receiving certain benefits eg Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit.
Professionals tell us there is a link between feeling cold and mental wellbeing and that feeling cold can strongly affect a cancer patient’s recovery.
About Macmillan Cancer Support
Macmillan Cancer Support improves the lives of people affected by cancer, providing practical, medical, emotional and financial support. Working alongside people affected by cancer, Macmillan works to improve cancer care.
Call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00, Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm. Calls are free, including from mobiles or visit www.macmillan.org.uk