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Cancer patients rely on charity handouts to heat homes

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A cancer nursing charity has warned that patients in Scotland are having to rely on handouts to keep warm because they cannot afford to heat their homes.

Macmillan Cancer Support said today it was spending twice as much on helping patients to heat their homes than it was five years ago.

The charity said its figures show that almost £425,000 was given out to cancer patients in Scotland to help them meet the cost of home heating in 2010. This is compared to £226,000 in 2005.

Elspeth Atkinson, Macmillan Cancer Support’s director for Scotland, said: “Following the coldest winter in a century, patients will now be dreading their household fuel bills dropping through their letter boxes.

“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 how to make ends meet or are struggling through winter with no heating.

“When the charity was established 100 years ago, founder Douglas Macmillan comforted cancer patients by handing out sacks of coal so they could to heat their homes. It is shocking that a century on, people who are diagnosed with this devastating disease are still being forced to live in freezing homes and in fuel poverty.”

The charity is calling on ministers in Westminster to review their decision not to include terminally ill cancer patients in the new Warm Homes Discount scheme, which would entitle them to automatically receive a rebate.

The scheme will obligate energy companies to provide a rebate to certain groups of vulnerable customers from April this year.

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