1 April 2011
Macmillan Cancer Support is urging cash-strapped cancer patients to apply for a new rebate energy providers are obliged to give vulnerable customers from today (April 1 2011), to help them pay their fuel bills.
People living with cancer are being encouraged to apply for the Government’s new Warm Home Discount scheme which requires the ‘big six’ energy companies to give certain customers an annual rebate of £120.
Each year, thousands of cancer patients struggle to keep warm on a low income and receive very little help to pay their bills. People who are terminally ill, currently in treatment, or receiving benefits are most likely to be living in fuel poverty. These people in particular are urged to contact their energy company to see if they are eligible for the rebate.
People receiving pension credit will automatically receive the rebate. Energy companies will be free to decide what criteria other customers will have to meet to be able to apply for it but generally people will have to prove that they are ‘vulnerable’ and living on a low income.
Energy companies are likely to accept applications from this summer and will deliver the majority of rebates in the winter months.
Mike Hobday, Head of Policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said:
‘Feeling too petrified to put the heating on because of money worries is an unacceptable reality for far too many cancer patients who feel the cold more because of their condition and are at home for longer during treatment and recovery.
'While we are pleased the Warm Home Discount scheme has been introduced, we’re concerned that cancer patients are still largely reliant on energy companies’ goodwill in including them in their schemes.
'We’re encouraging cancer patients living in fuel poverty to apply for this new rebate and are working with energy companies to ensure as many people with cancer as possible benefit from it.’
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For further information, please contact:
Rebecca Openshaw – Media & PR Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support
020 7840 4699 (out of hours 07801 307068)
About the Warm Home Discount scheme
• 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 today. 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 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.
• The Department of Energy and Climate Change announced on March 14 that there will be an independent review of the Govt’s fuel poverty strategy lead by Professor John Hills: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/pn11_044/pn11_044.aspx
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
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. One in three of us will get cancer. Two million of us are living with it. If you are affected by cancer Macmillan can help.
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