Heating bill handouts soar for cancer patient charity

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THE number of cancer patients in the Capital relying on charity handouts to heat their homes has soared in recent years.

Macmillan Cancer Support handed out £27,195 in fuel assistance grants to 132 people in 2011.

That figure has risen from just 45 people receiving grants totalling £14,697 in 2005.

Elspeth Atkinson, director of Macmillan Cancer Support for Scotland and Northern Ireland, 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. Charity founder Douglas Macmillan helped cancer patients by handing out sacks of coal to keep them warm. It is shocking that, a century on, people are still relying on charity help to heat their freezing homes.”

Across the UK, the charity is giving out almost twice as much in heating grants than it was five years ago.

It says cancer patients are at a greater risk of fuel poverty because they may have to stop work, spend more time at home or may feel the cold more because of their treatment.