'It's really, really tough': Cancer patients relying on charity grants to pay soaring energy bills

Ruth Godfrey still from CANCER HEATING pkg
Ruth Godfrey was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019 Credit: ITV News

ITV News has learnt that many people going through treatment for cancer are relying on grants from charities to pay their energy bills. That's before an average 54% increase in our bills comes into force in April.

The charity Macmillan Cancer Support say they've given out more than £1 million in grants over the past three months to desperate patients dreading their next energy payment.

Many of the people who are relying on this support are doing so because they are being hit by a double whammy of financial pressures associated with their illness and the escalating cost of living.

Many cancer patients cannot work, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic began because treatment like radiotherapy and chemotherapy impacts their immune system, making them much more vulnerable to becoming seriously ill. It is also vital that they keep warm as it aids treatment and recovery.

Christopher Jones is Macmillan's Energy Advice Team Leader. He says the increased cost of living is just another financial worry for those diagnosed with cancer, who are often already in a "nightmare situation".

The charity says heating costs are currently the number one issue that people with cancer are asking for grants for support with. Almost one in four (23%) of those supported with a grant towards their heating costs since November 1 are in their 70s or older.

In addition to the current cost of living crisis, further research shows around one in six people with cancer (17%) see their household fuel bills rise simply as a result of their diagnosis, with the average increase in cost for those affected reaching £100 a month.

Ruth Godfrey was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019. She says it's 'really, really tough' financially to go through chemotherapy. Credit: ITV News

Ruth Godfrey was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019. She received a hardship grant to help her get by. With the cost of living going up, she says she is worried about others going through cancer treatment unable to afford to heat their homes.

"Obviously with chemo you lose your hair, but you also lose your body hair as well," she told ITV News.

"So you lose that extra little bit of layer but it's also your body's really uncomfortable. It's really tired. It's fighting all these chemicals that are put in and you lose your own immune system.

"So you need to keep warm and you need to keep comfortable you need to keep positive."

A government spokesperson from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: "We are committed to supporting vulnerable households with heating their homes, which is why we have announced a £9.1 billion support package to help families dealing with rising energy costs.

“This is on top of a strong financial safety net already in place for anyone with a long-term health condition or a disability, including Statutory Sick Pay, Personal Independence Payment, Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit."