‘We won’t be able to afford it!’ Pensioner desperate as energy bill rise continues

Martin Lewis explains how to reduce your energy bills

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In recent months, households have seen their energy bills rise exponentially due to the ongoing global demand for fuel following the pandemic. Pensioners are considered to be most at risk of falling into fuel poverty with Age UK estimating that over 150,000 elderly households are expected to be hit hardest in the coming months. One of the many people dealing with this issue is Pete, 75, from Wiltshire who has had to balance rising heating bills and living costs.

Based in Wiltshire with his wife Sue, Pete sometimes struggles to pay their energy bill despite additional support from the Government, schemes such as the Warm Home Discount and assistance from charities, like UK Community Foundations.

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Pete said: “Because the gas and electric bill have gone up, it doesn’t guarantee that it’s going to pay all the extra off all the extra we are paying.

“What has been happening is usually our children have us stay quite a lot at their places.

“All the times that we’re not here (in the house) we have to turn everything off. We can’t leave the boiler running low, we just can’t afford it.

“So basically, without our children taking us into their houses part of the time, we wouldn’t be able to afford it.

“We’re going down to my son’s to stay at his house for a little while. It gives us a break and it keeps our heating bills down.

“If we were here 52 weeks of the year, we just couldn’t afford it at all.”

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, explained how the rise in energy prices is tangibly affecting the lives and hurting the pockets of pensioners up and down the country.

Ms Abrahams said: “There’s no doubt that media reports about rising energy bills are filling pensioners on low fixed incomes with absolute dread.

“More than twenty-five thousand people have told us how worried they are, and it is clear that as things stand, some fully expect to have to choose between cutting down on food or turning down their heating, once the cold weather sets in.

“Doing either is a potential risk to their health, especially if they are living with serious underlying health conditions like heart disease or COPD.”

Specifically, the charity is pushing for the Government to introduce a more generous financial support package to target fuel poverty directly.

Age UK proposals include a £50 grant to those eligible for Cold Weather payment, and a big boost to the Household Support Fund that councils distribute to tackle fuel poverty in their areas.

On top of this, the charity is calling for the Government to get more eligible people on Pension Credit, which could prove to be a crucial means of support.

Ms Abrahams added: “We must do everything possible to safeguard the health and wellbeing of pensioners on low fixed incomes.

“The energy price cap offers valuable protection against prices going through the roof, and the Government should move quickly to enshrine it in law, but Ministers have to go further to give the poorest pensioners the confidence to keep their heating turned up high enough when temperatures are cold.

“Above all, we must ensure that turmoil in the wholesale energy market does not translate into tragedy for any older person this winter.

“In most years it would be hyperbole to suggest there was a risk of older people freezing to death in their own homes, but the risk cannot be completely discounted this year.

“That’s why we need Government action to ensure every older person comes through safe and well.”

Anyone concerned about how the rise in energy bills is affecting them are encouraged to get in touch with organisations, such as Age UK and UK Community Foundations, for assistance.

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