LEADING charity Macmillan Cancer Support paid out almost £95,000 in grants to cancer patients struggling to cope with their fuel bills in the Mid Devon area. The charity paid out £94,879 to 343 homeowners, more than 35% of whom were given grants towards heating bills totalling £19,890.

These figures back up recent Macmillan research showing around 27,000 cancer patients in the UK could be behind with paying their fuel bills and owe providers as much as £2.8million in overdue payments.

Fuel bills often rise because cancer patients are spending more time at home and often feel colder because of their illness.

David Crosby 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 and our recent research show just how much of a problem keeping up with fuel bills is for cancer patients – especially as the weather is set to get colder.

“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 second highest request for grants during this period was for clothing. Macmillan’s previous research showed that one in three (34%) cancer patients have to put on outdoor clothes indoors to try to keep warm. To inquiry about obtaining financial help from the charity, call 0808 808 00 00 or visit www.macmillan.org.uk/heating.