Alex Cunningham vows to help terminally ill with energy bills

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A NORTH East MP is aiming to force utility companies to provide financial support to people with terminal illnesses through a new law.

Alex Cunningham is one of a handful of MPs to be selected though the ballot to introduce a Private Members’ Bill this Parliament.

He introduced his proposal for a bill aimed at tackling fuel poverty yesterday (Wednesday, June 15).

Read more: North East doctor offers advice on dealing with financial fall-out of cancer

He said: “If you or a loved one is terminally ill the last thing you need is extra stress caused by worrying about whether you can afford to pay your energy bills. Yet research by Marie Curie and others shows that people who are terminally ill often face a loss of income and increased pressures on their finances.

“My proposed bill will ensure utility companies provide financial support to customers with a terminal illness, hopefully alleviate some stress in what a deeply anxious time will be, and make sure no one is forced into fuel poverty as a result of being terminally ill.”

He wants a law to force utility companies to provide financial support through existing hardship funds to customers with a terminal illness.

Private Members’ Bills can be ntroduced by MPs who are not government ministers. 

Twenty MPs are drawn through a ballot to present a bill.

Mr Cunningham came twelfth in the draw. The first seven ballots are the most likely to get a day’s debate.

Ballot bills are the most likely Private Members’ Bills to become law due to limitations on the amount of available debating time.

The only other North East MP to be selected this year was Ian Mearns, the MP for Gateshead, who is proposing a law covering the online sale of goods.

Earlier this year, Darlington MP Peter Gibson’s bill to overhaul taxi licensing became law after being selected through the ballot in 2021.

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Mr Cunningham said research by Marie Curie shows people with terminal illness often face a loss of income and increased pressure on finances, adding to anxiety to them and their loved ones.

The proposed bill will also aim to strengthen employment rights for people who are terminally ill.

Mr Cunningham will be working with the Trades Union Congress, trade unions and organisations like Marie Curie as it progresses.

The bill’s second reading is on 18 November.

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