16 February 2010
Macmillan Cancer Support is once again calling for an end to the struggle faced by thousands of cancer patients freezing indoors this winter.
Paying fuel bills while undergoing treatment or recovering from cancer is one of the biggest worries for cancer patients in need 1 . This winter alone, over 4,600 people asked Macmillan for help with their fuel bills - nearly half of all the people Macmillan has helped financially 2 .
Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support says:
'People tell us when they feel colder due to the effects of cancer treatment, they turn the heating up and then receive higher fuel bills, often when their household income has dropped because they cannot work. This is a huge strain; financially, physically and emotionally.'
Among Macmillan’s health and social care professionals, 92 per cent 3 believe that being cold is linked to mental wellbeing, while 85 per cent 3 agree that the cold can affect cancer patients’ recovery.
Annie, 54, from Hampshire, was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer in 2007. Her husband had to take early retirement to be her full time carer.
'We live on a severely limited income and have spent winter so worried about the fuel bills that we’d turn off the heating and cover up with blankets to try and keep warm. Cancer has taken away the life that my husband and I worked towards.'
Today, as one in five cancer patients undergoing treatment is living in fuel poverty 4 , the charity is calling for the Winter Fuel Payment to be extended to cancer patients in need and the terminally ill. Macmillan also wants the Government to recognise cancer patients as a group that should have full access to the new mandatory social support that energy companies will have to offer by 2011.
Support Macmillan’s campaign to freeze out fuel poverty for cancer patients by signing the pledge at www.macmillan.org.uk/fuelpoverty
Anyone struggling with their fuel bills can get hold of a free fuel poverty fact sheet by calling 0808 808 00 00 or visiting www.macmillan.org.uk/fuelpoverty
***CASE STUDIES AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST***
For further information, please contact:
Helen Champion– Macmillan Cancer Support
020 7840 4689 (out of hours 07801 307068) HChampion@macmillan.org.uk
Notes to Editors:
1 Macmillan defines cancer patients in need as those undergoing treatment in the past year, who are terminally ill, or in receipt of Council Tax Benefit or Housing Benefit
2 Macmillan Grants figures between 1 October 2009 and 9 February 2010. 4,645 people were helped with their fuel bills - 45 per cent of the total number of people helped financially by Macmillan. Macmillan grant figures 2010
3 Macmillan Cancer Support survey of 66 Macmillan professionals including nurses, GPs, other healthcare professionals, patient information managers, social workers, and benefits advisers, November 2009
4 9.6% of the general (non vulnerable) population are in fuel poverty, Department of Energy and Climate Change fuel poverty statistics, 2009. 19% of cancer patients undergoing treatment in the last year are in fuel poverty, Macmillan Cancer Support Online survey of 974 people with cancer, May 2009
Fuel poverty is defined as when a family needs to spend at least 10 per cent of their income on heating and lighting their home.
About Macmillan Cancer Support
Macmillan Cancer Support improves the lives of people affected by cancer. We provide practical, medical, emotional and financial support and push for better cancer care.