27,000 cancer patients struggle to pay fuel bills

Cancer sufferers owe their fuel providers as much as £2.8m in overdue payments, according to Macmillan Cancer Support.

Rising fuel bills are forcing cancer patients into fuel poverty, according to Macmillan Cancer Support. The cancer charity revealed that 27,000 cancer patients were struggle to pay fuel bills this winter, and owed utility companies as much as £2.8m.

Last week, E. On became the last of the "big six" energy suppliers to increase its tariffs . The recent increases have added extra pressure to those on standard energy deals. Two years ago, customers on standard dual fuel tariffs were paying up to 23pc or £221 a year more than those on the cheapest deals, but the latest round of hikes has increased the price gap to almost a third (30pc) or £312, according to Confused.com.

Macmillan said that it saw a sharp rise in the value of grants it paid out to cancer patients struggling with fuel bills in the last week of 2012. The charity paid out £216,453 in the final week of last year, a third higher than the weekly average for 2012.

Sixty-one year old Sarah from Somerset, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, said without the grant she may not have survived.

"I’m stuck on benefits, am widowed with debts, and had to go to bed and hibernate to try and keep warm as I was so worried about my energy bills," she said.

“I was put on a prepayment meter so if I didn’t have the money, I didn’t have any heating. The grant to help with my fuel payments was a life saver. I can honestly say I’d be dead if it weren’t for their help.”

Maureen Rutter, director at Macmillan Cancer Support said the Government should do more to help cancer patients struggling with the rising price of fuel.

“Cancer patients need to put their energy into getting better. Instead many are living in cold homes anxious about how they're going to cope with rocketing fuel bills," she said.

“The Government is revising its fuel poverty strategy this year and we are calling on them to offer real protection to cancer patients.”

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