Cancer patients ‘left out in the cold’

By staff

Cancer patients are twice as likely to be in fuel poverty – but the government is refusing to give them preferential treatment.

The Department of Health provides winter fuel payment for the elderly but does not do so for cancer patients, which are currently unrecognised as a needy group.

Research by cancer charity Macmillan found that 19 per cent of cancer patients are in fuel poverty, defined by when a family spends over ten per cent of their income on heating and lighting their home.

That compares with 9.6 per cent of the general population.

Ciarán Devane, chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “People undergoing cancer treatment spend more time at home as they’re often too ill to work.

“The effects of treatment can make them feel the cold more, and then they need the heating on higher and for longer which leads to increased fuel bills; all at a time when their household income plummets.”

Three-quarters of cancer patients in active treatment need to use their heating more, Macmillan found.