Rebate call for cancer patients as charity’s fuel cash handouts rocket

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THE charity Macmillan Cancer Support has claimed freezing patients in the Borders cannot afford to heat their homes because of colossal fuel bills, writes Andrew Keddie.

And it has announced that, nationally, it is spending twice as much on grants helping patients pay their bills as it was five years ago.

But the hike in handouts is much higher in Selkirkshire, Peeblesshire and Roxburghshire.

In 2010, grants to patients to pay domestic fuel bills was £4,100 in Selkirkshire, a tenfold rise on the 2005 awards of £450. In Peeblesshire, the £2,500 disbursed was seven times higher than the £350 in 2005, while in Roxburghshire, cancer patients received £8,500 from the charity: three times higher than the £2,700 of five years ago.

Elspeth Atkinson, Macmillan’s Scottish director, told us: “It is absolutely unacceptable that, as well as attempting to cope with the consequences of a cancer diagnosis, patients are suffering the additional anxiety of having to make ends meet or are struggling through winter with no heating.

“Despite only seven per cent of cancer patients in fuel poverty being on a social tariff, Westminster politicians recently rejected Macmillan’s calls for terminally ill cancer patients to automatically receive a rebate. The new mandatory social price support scheme will obligate energy companies to provide a rebate to certain groups of vulnerable customers from next month. We are urging the Government to reconsider its decision.”

Borders cancer patients can find out more about the financial help available to them by visiting www.macmillan.org.uk or calling free on 0800 808 000 Mon-Fri from 9am till 8pm.

Meanwhile Macmillan is asking Borderers to sign up to its Freeze Out Fuel Poverty knitted petition at www.infiknit.org.uk. The Infi-knit machine generates a real piece of woolly scarf every time someone adds their name to the online petition.