UK cancer sufferers almost £3 million in debt to their energy firms

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A new report has suggested that cancer patients are more than twice as likely to find themselves behind on their bill repayments as the general population.

The research from cancer charity Macmillan, warned that around 27,000 cancer sufferers in the UK are thought to struggling to pay their bills - owing as much as £2.8m to their energy providers.

The report showed that of those surveyed, one in 20 of those diagnosed with cancer in the last two years were in debt to their energy provider.

Macmillan's research also showed that over half (54%) were worried about the cost of their heating this winter, almost a third (three in ten) said they were forced to turn off the heating completely and one in three said they had to put on outdoor clothes such as coats, just to keep warm inside.

Macmillan Cancer Support director of policy and research, Mike Hobday, said the research showed just how dire the financial situation had become for some people living with cancer in the UK - with thousands of cancer patients falling behind on their energy bills and  having to resort to turning the heating off, despite the fact that heat is vital to their recovery.

He said: "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. It's high time we put a stop to cancer patients suffering in fuel poverty."

In total 2,142 took part in the online survey - a joint effort between Macmillan and YouGov - conducted between the period of November 26 and December 14. The results were based around the 535 respondents who had been diagnosed with cancer within the last two years.

Various plans such as the Warm Home Discount Scheme have already been introduced to help vulnerable energy customers, but rising energy bills have left many struggling. In fact, the Government has already made plans to cut down the number of energy tariffs from providers to four - with customers being put on the cheapest one.

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