By VIVIENNE NICOLL
FAMILIES dealing with cancer are to be given help with their fuel bills thanks to a new scheme between a charity and an energy company.
ScottishPower and cancer support charity CLIC Sargent have launched a pilot scheme to help young cancer patients and their parents or carers who are struggling to pay their bills.
New research has found that families of cancer sufferers face an increased spend of Pounds 600 while a child is receiving treatment.
Energy bills were found to be a major factor in the increased spending along with travel to hospital and food costs.
As a result of the research, the ScottishPower pilot will result in CLIC Sargent social workers identifying existing customers in families they work with who could benefit from support with their energy bills.
They will be referred to a new specialist team who will carry out a full review of all their energy needs.
Support could include ensuring they are on the best tariff and are accessing funding they may be eligible for.
The team will also provide energy efficiency advice ensuring their homes are warm at the lowest possible cost.
Clare Laxton from CLIC Sargent, said: "We don't think it is right or fair any family should be facing the prospect of financial hardship while they are trying to support a young cancer patient.
"Our research found only 37 per cent of parents struggling with their bills contacted their energy companies to see what could be done therefore it is key this help comes to them."
John Brown, social work leader for Glasgow at CLIC Sargent, said many families say their energy bills shoot up when they have a child with cancer.
He added: "They will be spending more time at home and can often be cold, meaning the heating is always running."
Ross Middleton's son Findlay, eight, was diagnosed with cancer in 2015 and his family struggled with the increased cost of travel for treatment and a sharp increase in their energy bills.
He said: "People definitely underestimate the financial impact of cancer on families. We were in survival mode. Anything that can offer families affected by cancer more financial support is a cause for celebration."
Each day, 11 children and young people in the UK will learn they have cancer with treatment lasting up to three years.
Credit: Victoria Brenan
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