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Macmillan: Cancer patients are 'punished for their condition'

Mike Hobday, director of policy and research at Macmillan Cancer Support, has said that cancer patients are in a "dire" situation facing high energy costs combined with a lower income.

It follows a survey of cancer patients showing that more than half of respondents were concerned about heating their homes.

Thousands of cancer patients are falling behind with their energy bills and resorting to turning the heating off, even though its vital for their recovery that they keep warm.

Cancer patients simply cannot afford to meet rising fuel prices at a time when many suffer a loss of income - it is appalling that they are being punished for their condition.

– Mike Hobday, Macmillan Cancer Support

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Survey: Cancer patients are in debt to energy companies

The cancer charity Macmillan has warned that around 27,000 cancer patients in the UK could be in debt as a result of falling behind on their energy bills.

A survey of 535 people who have been diagnosed with cancer in the last two years found that:

  • 5% of respondents are currently in debt to their heating provider
  • 54% are worried about the cost of heating their homes this winter
  • 30% have had to turn off the heating in the last three months to save money
  • 34% have put on outdoor clothes indoors to keep warm

UK household energy bills set to rise further

Around 300,000 more homes are likely to have been pushed into "fuel poverty" by Christmas, a campaign group has warned.

The Fuel Poverty Advisory Group says six million people are now struggling to pay their energy bills.

It comes as the industry regulator Ofgem announced a multi-billion pound network upgrade, adding yet more to the bill of every consumer.

Stephen Douglas reports:

How to save money on household energy bills

Though household energy bills are set to rise by an average of £12 a year, there are a number of ways you can reduce your energy costs:

  • Compare energy suppliers on a price comparison website
  • Monthly direct debits, online accounts and dual fuel deals can be cheaper
  • Insulate your home's loft and cavity walls
  • Handheld energy monitors can estimate how much you're using in real time
  • Turn your thermostat down - just 1C could cut your bill by £55 a year
  • If you have an old gas boiler replace it with a new condensing model
  • Stop heating escaping through gaps in windows and doors

Energy saving tips care of the Which? website.

Davey: Energy bills only raised in the public interest

Energy Secretary Ed Davey said he does not want to add "a single penny" to energy bills that isn't in the public interest.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey pictured speaking today
Energy Secretary Ed Davey pictured speaking today Credit: The Fair Energy Summit

Speaking at the Fair Energy Summit in London, Mr Davey said, "I'm quite frankly fed up with commentators suggesting the Government are deliberately increasing energy bills, when in fact we are doing everything we can to reduce them".

"The bulk of the cost we add to bills is for supporting low carbon technologies and energy efficiency ... I make no apology for ensuring that we meet our legally-binding carbon targets and renewable energy targets", he added.

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£12 energy bills rise: A breakdown of the figures

Under Ofcom's revised proposals, household energy bills will rise an average of £12 per year between 2013 and 2021.

The amount is not cumulative as investment and costs "vary year-on-year".

Ofgem said energy bills are expected to rise from today's prices in the following manner:

  • 2013/14 - £8.50
  • 2014/15 - £7.30
  • 2015/16 - £11.20
  • 2016/17 - £11.60
  • 2017/18 - £13.30
  • 2018/19 - £14.50
  • 2019/20 - £14.20
  • 2020/21 - £15.10

The energy regulator said half the total average bill - £6.20 - is related to tax changes affecting the gas distribution network companies "that are outside Ofgem's control".

Government defends fuel poverty strategy

Two million households will get help under the Warm Home Discount Scheme this year, including more than one million low income pensioners who will receive £130 off their bill.

We have also already announced our intention to launch a new fuel poverty strategy next year to make sure we are targeting help at those who need it most.

The Fuel Poverty Advisory Group has an important part to play in helping us assess our progress in this area and we will now carefully consider the recommendations set out in their annual report.

– Department for Energy and Climate Change
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