A cancer support charity and energy company are working together to give struggling families some relief from their energy bills. CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for patients under 25, has warned that the financial impact of a child or young person being diagnosed with cancer can be devastating, costing an average of £600 extra every month.
Now the charity has, for the first time, formed a new initiative in partnership with British Gas, aiming to help lighten the load of families’ energy bills.
Starting from February 1, CLIC Sargent social care professionals who support young people and families, will identify those who are British Gas customers, and at risk of struggling to pay their energy bills.
The social worker will then refer the family to a specialist British Gas team, which will work with the family to provide tailored packages to ease the financial burden. These could include a warm home discount, altered payment plans and account health checks.
Lisa Thomas saw her costs balloon while she was still reeling from the shock of her three-year-old son Riley being diagnosed with leukaemia.
"All of your costs go up and energy bills were a problem as well. Your usage really goes up. You're spending more time at home. Riley would get sick a lot and that means you're cleaning a lot of clothes and running the tumble dryer. Your heating and hot water costs, and energy use just keep going up.
"We're still digging ourselves out of this. We are slowing paying off our debts, but it will be a while before we are back where we want to be."
CLIC Sargent Chief Executive Kate Lee said: “We are thrilled that British Gas will be working to help families who can often see their finances completely devastated following a cancer diagnosis. We know that many spiral into debt while their child is on treatment and that simply isn’t right.
“Tailored support, which matches the specific needs of these families, is absolutely crucial and we hope that this is just the first of many energy companies across the UK who take that extra step to try and limit the damage caused to young lives struck by cancer.”
Steve Crabb, Director of Consumer Vulnerability at British Gas, said: “When a family is facing a life-changing situation, financial stress is the last thing they need. We’re very pleased to be able to work with CLIC Sargent to provide support at a time when families need it most.”
CLIC Sargent is petitioning the government for greater support to be provided for families at the point of diagnosis. It is also calling for more energy and travel companies to take action to support these vulnerable customers.
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