United Kingdom

Cancer-surviving MSP says energy bills must be frozen to help those undergoing treatment

CANCER patients undergoing treatment should be “at the forefront” of UK ministers’ minds as energy bills soar to unprecedented levels, an MSP who survived breast cancer has insisted.

Equalities minister Christina McKelvie – who won her Holyrood seat last year while undergoing treatment – said many who are receiving chemotherapy or other treatments will experience fluctuations in temperature and being able to afford to put their heating on is “vital”.

But there are fears terminally ill people could freeze to death this winter with the energy price cap now set to hit a staggering £3549 in October.

McKelvie – who was given the all-clear earlier this year – said: “As someone who has undergone cancer treatment I understand how difficult a time it is for both the person receiving the treatment and their family and friends.

“The last thing someone needs during this time is to worry about the financial impact of energy rises on top of their other worries.

“Many people will experience a fluctuation in temperatures if, for example, they are receiving chemotherapy, and in those circumstances being able to have your heating on when needed is absolutely vital.

“Those undertaking cancer treatment should be at the forefront of the minds of politicians when dealing with this crisis.”

The spike in the cap is expected to drive millions into fuel poverty, with money saving expert Martin Lewis warning that people will die if nothing is done.

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Matthew Reed, chief executive of end-of-life charity Marie Curie, said people need to be able to afford to power specialist medical equipment and dying people are “falling through the cracks”.

He said: “Terminally ill people could freeze to death this winter without further support.

“The need to stay warm to keep pain at bay and power specialist medical equipment means that energy bills for some terminally ill people will be thousands of pounds higher than the average household.

“Many won’t be able to afford this. With 30% of excess winter deaths attributable to cold, damp housing, this could cost lives.”

Laura Lee, chief executive cancer support charity Maggie’sadded: “Today’s energy price increase is devastating for people with cancer who were already deeply concerned about paying their energy bills.

“Let’s not forget people with cancer need to use more heating and electricity as they undergo treatment – while living on a reduced income.

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“I am shocked that people living with cancer today are being forced to worry about their basic needs being met. We can help though, and I urge anyone worried about paying their heating bills to visit their nearest Maggie’s.”

Tory ministers were criticised on Friday for being unwilling to speak to the media following Ofgem’s announcement, with many branding them “missing in action”.

Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi said the increase would cause “stress and anxiety” but was not available to appear on any media broadcasts.

McKelvie has urged the UK Government to come out of hiding and freeze the cap. 

She added: “The First Minister and Scottish Government are treating this energy crisis as a public emergency, recognising the impact further increases in bills will have on households, businesses and a public sector already struggling with a cost of living crisis. However, the powers needed to tackle this crisis lie with the UK Government.

“At a time when action has never been more needed the UK Government is entirely missing in action.

“The UK Government must come out of hiding and commit to freeze the cap for all households using the powers at their disposal before more damage is done to households and businesses across Scotland.”

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