This winter's soaring heating bills are forcing cancer patients into fuel poverty, according to the charity Macmillan Cancer Support.
It warned that 27,000 cancer patients are struggling to pay their home energy bills this winter, and owed their utility companies some £2.8m in overdue payments. Macmillan said it had paid out £216,453 during the last week of 2012 in grants to cancer patients struggling to cope with their bills.
The figure was a third higher than the weekly average for the year. News of the increase in demand for help paying bills comes just a week after E.ON became the last of the Big Six firms to clobber customers with a winter price hike.
Average bills for the firm's millions of customers rose 8.7 per cent, while the other energy firms have hit their own customers with similar rises.
Maureen Rutter, director of direct services of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "While most of us were enjoying the festive period, cancer patients were clearly in desperate need of financial support.
"These figures show just how much of a problem keeping up with fuel bills is for cancer patients – especially as we face freezing conditions over the next few days and months of winter still ahead.
"Cancer patients need to put their energy into getting better. Instead, many are living in cold homes anxious about how they're going to cope with rocketing fuel bills. The Government is revising its fuel poverty strategy this year and we are calling on them to offer real protection to cancer patients."