Cancer patients “rely on charity hand-outs” as they struggle to pay for fuel bills70 per cent of those aged under 55 lose income after being diagnosed with the disease2,548,563 paid to cancer patients in 2011″It would appear that this problem is going to increase as fuel bills continue to rise”, says MP
Cancer patients are being forced to rely on charity handouts as they struggle to pay for rising fuel bills, says a report.
Findings highlighted that 70 per cent of those aged under 55 lose income after being diagnosed with the disease, often because they are too ill to work.
As a result Macmillan Cancer Support revealed that the number of requests for financial aid have almost doubled over the past five years.
Cancer patients are being forced to rely on charity handouts as they struggle to pay for rising fuel bills
During 2011 it made one-off payments totalling 2,548,563 to 12,669 cancer patients to help with fuel costs, a sharp increase on the 1.4 million paid out in 2006.
Commenting on the trend a spokesperson for the charity said: “To feel too scared to put the heating on because of soaring energy bills is an unacceptable reality for thousands of vulnerable cancer patients who feel the cold more and spend long periods of time athome.
“When the charity was established 100years ago, founder Douglas Macmillan helped cancer patients by handing out sacks of coal to keep them warm.
“It is shocking that a century on, people who are diagnosed with this devastating disease are still relyingon charity help to heat their freezing homes.”
The report also established that certain groups of cancer patientsare more vulnerable to fuel poverty, including those on housingbenefit and council tax benefit or with a low annual household income.
The charity, is now calling for an ongoing independent review to enable patient prioritisation.
Currently the Government gives a winter fuel allowance to pensioners – but Macmillan Cancer Support has previously lobbied for this to be extended to cancer patients.
Margaret Ritchie MP who raised the issue in the House of Commons added: “Fuel poverty unfortunately affects many cancer patients, with people having to turn off their heating in the winter despite being cold because they are worried about their fuel bills.
“It would appear that this problem is going to increase as fuel bills continue to rise.”
Around 298,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK and it is estimated that more than one in three people will develop some form of the disease during their lifetime.