An MP has called on the UK government to provide additional support to hospices tackling soaring energy costs.
Patricia Gibson, MP for North Ayrshire and Arran, has urged Rishi Sunak to increase the financial assistance available to the sector, as they prepare to face additional costs in the region of £100 million per year due to the rise in energy prices.
Hospices currently deliver essential end-of-life palliative care to around 300,000 people every year in the UK.
However, unlike businesses, the hospice sector cannot pass on increased costs to service users.
Commenting, Patricia Gibson MP said:
“Most of us have, at some point or another, had cause to be grateful to hospice services for the invaluable care they provide our terminally ill loved ones.
“However, the cost-of-living crisis is having a significant impact on the sector’s fundraising at a time when the costs of running a hospice are spiralling.
“The hospice sector, which receives most of its funding through donations from the public, plays a critical role within the UK’s health and care system, relieving pressure on our NHS.
“By their very nature, simply cutting energy consumption is not an option when medical machines need to be kept running and inpatient units need to be warm for those in their care.
“I was hugely disappointed by the UK government’s response when I raised this issue in Parliament.
“While the Scottish Government is doing everything within its power to tackle this crisis, including providing at least £7 million in annual funding, it is the UK government that retains powers to mitigate the energy costs crisis, and it must use them.
“The Energy Bill Relief Scheme, which has supported businesses, schools, hospitals, and care homes – as well as hospices and other charities – comes to an end next month.
“Its replacement is considerably less generous, and the hospice sector faces an energy bills cliff-edge in April.
“That is why the UK government must step up the energy bills support it provides to the sector as a matter of urgency.
“Otherwise, the survival of hospice services across the UK could be in jeopardy.”