28 February 2011
Commenting on the Government’s Warm Home Discount consultation response, Mike Hobday, Head of Policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said:
‘Sadly, the Government has turned its back on people with a terminal illness living in fuel poverty by failing to help them as part of the new Warm Home Discount scheme.
‘While we’re pleased the Government has recognised the need for cancer patients on certain benefits to be targeted by energy providers, we are deeply disappointed that they have ignored calls for terminally ill cancer patients to automatically receive the rebate.
'It is incredible that the Government promised to protect the ‘poorest and most vulnerable in society’ and yet is unwilling to assign money to help people diagnosed with a terminal illness. The Government could have done this, with a cost of less than 4% of the total budget for the scheme.
‘Research shows that people with a terminal illness often do not apply for benefits they’re entitled to so unless they receive the support automatically, it is highly unlikely that the Warm Home Discount will reach them.
‘The Government must reconsider their plans and take action to end the misery of thousands of people with a terminal illness who are at home freezing but too scared to put the heating on because of rising energy bills.’
For further information, please contact:
Rebecca Openshaw, Media & PR Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support
020 7840 4699 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
About the Warm Home Discount scheme
• The Department of Energy and Climate Change released its response to the Warm Home Discount consultation today. The Warm Home Discount, a new mandatory social price support scheme, will obligate energy companies to provide a rebate on certain energy customer’s fuel bills from April this year. Read the Government’s consultation response here:
• Under Government plans, certain groups of Pension Credit recipients will be included in the ‘core group’ who will receive the £130 rebate automatically. There will also be a ‘broader group’ who will be identified by energy companies.
• 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.
• We were looking for people with a terminal illness to receive the payment automatically – this meant assigning £9.6 million of a £310 million fund, or around 4%, specifically to people with a terminal illness.
• 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.
How people living with cancer are affected by fuel poverty
• Cancer patients have high fuel bills because they are 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 are not working.
• Macmillan Cancer Support/RS Consulting (2010), Fuel poverty and cancer: survey of people with cancer found:
- Certain groups of cancer patients are particularly vulnerable to fuel poverty. These include those undergoing treatment (25%) and those on certain benefit, such as, housing benefit (47%) and council tax benefit (46%). The research also highlighted that 27% of cancer patients on disability living allowance and 40% with an annual household income of under £20k are in fuel poverty
- 1 in 4 people with cancer undergoing treatment are fuel poor
• Macmillan’s online survey of 974 people with cancer in the UK (2009) found:
- 7% of those in fuel poverty are on a social tariff
- Seven in ten people under 55 experience a reduced income losing on average 50% (Macmillan Cancer Support
- 59% have used more fuel since their diagnosis
• According to Macmillan’s grants team 41% of people receiving a grant from Macmillan asked for help towards the cost of fuel in 2009.
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. Questions about living with cancer? Call the Macmillan Support Line free on 0808 808 00 00, or visit macmillan.org.uk