Cancer charity facing 'unprecedented demand' for help with bills in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire

A charity says it is facing "unprecedented demand" for financial support from people with cancer who are struggling to cope with rising bills.

Macmillan Cancer Support said there was a 16% rise in people applying for grants to pay for energy and food over the winter.

In Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire, the charity gave an extra £90,000 of grants to people who could not afford their heating bills between October and January.

Heather McLean, the charity's head of partnerships for the north, said: "We are putting unprecedented amounts of money out there and it's absolutely necessary.

"When someone has a cancer diagnosis, the last thing they need to be worrying about is whether they can afford to put the heating on or eat. They should be able to concentrate on their treatment."

Why is the rising cost of living such a crisis for people with cancer?

The charity, which has made an extra £3.5million in grants available to people facing hardship, said people with cancer often have to spend more time at home and need the heating on more frequently because they are more susceptible to cold.

Ms McLean said many have to quit work after being diagnosed – and research showed that those with cancer face additional costs of £800 a month.

"They face a loss of earnings, extra heating bills and travel costs – and many have been struggling even before current price rises."

Harry and Lynn Tweddle are struggling to pay their bills Credit: ITV News

'We downsized to pay our bills'

Harry Tweddle, from North Yorkshire, has terminal cancer, which makes him extremely sensitive to cold.

He and his wife, Lynn, moved out of their house and into a bungalow as they struggled to make ends meet, but say they are terrified that they still won't be able to afford to heat their smaller home.

The 64-year-old was forced to give up his job six months ago, when he was diagnosed, and now has an income of £700 a month. The energy bill for their three-bedroom bungalow is £350 a month.

Mr Tweddle said: "In the old house I was either in bed all day or I was sat downstairs in the living room with the fire on. That was my life for four months."

Mrs Tweddle said: "You know very well bills are going to go up in April. We are just dreading what's coming through the post next."

The couple have been given a grant by Macmillian, but say they will struggle to cover their costs.

"We are not seeing any sign of the cost of living crisis going away. MacMillian is calling for targeted support for the Government for vulnerable groups, like those living with cancer so they can maintain a decent standard of living."

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is preparing to set out his UK finance plans for the next year in his spring statement on Wednesday.

It is thought he is considering a fuel duty cut of 5p to address the sky-high petrol and diesel prices.

And he has already said that a £150 rebate on council tax for homes in bands A-D and a £200 discount on bills in October will make a "big difference" to bill payers.