Martin Lewis warns of the threat of unaffordable energy bills
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Energy bills are rising due to economic pressure on the wholesale gas and electricity market which has resulted in households seeing a rise in what they pay. Next month, industry regulator Ofgem is set to announce changes to the energy price cap, which limits the rates a supplier can charge for their default tariffs.
In a poll commissioned by Age UK, over half (52 percent) of over-65s are worried about their energy bills now compared to just under a third in December.
This is the equivalent of 6.5million pensioners, indicating the growing anxiety among this age demographic.
Some 45 percent of those who were surveyed admitted that they are worried about having to cut back on their energy use due to financial concerns.
Following these revelations, pensioners who took part in Age UK’s survey are telling all about the struggle they face amid the pending changes to the energy price cap.
One woman named Celia said: “Like many elderly people, I’m rationing my heating and trying to think of more ways to keep my head above water financially.
“With the cost of food and most other necessities going up almost daily, the future, especially over the colder months, looks very bleak indeed.”
Another named Sandra added: “I am a 74 year old pensioner living on the state pension in a privately rented house.
“If my energy bills increase as much as predicted, despite the help already given, I will not be able to heat my house, eat, feed my little dog, my only companion, and pay my bills without going into further debt as my savings have already been eaten away.”
Sharing his situation, David explained: “I can barely afford the energy bills at the moment and have to keep cooking to a minimum in order to be able to heat my flat.
“As it is, many times I have to turn the heating down to the point where it feels cold because I can’t be sure I will have enough money to pay the bill.
“All prices seem to rise faster than any increase in my pension and this latest threat of energy bills rising by up to 50 percent will take many things beyond what I can afford.”
As part of their campaign to get the Government to address the concerns of pensioners, Age UK is calling for a cut to the five percent rate of VAT from all households’ energy bills from April till at least the end of 2022, which the organisation believes will save households £100.
Furthermore, the charity is lobbying for additional financial support through schemes such as the Cold Weather Payment to assist those most in need.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “The number of older people who are worried about being able to heat their homes is staggering and should be a source of shame for this Government.
“Millions of older people across the UK are absolutely dreading the imminent price cap announcement and urgently need reassurance that help is on its way so they can keep their heating on.
“This is a national crisis which needs a swift and decisive response from Ministers.
“Every single day we are hearing heart-breaking stories from desperate older people who are being forced to choose between heating and eating.
“This isn’t a looming crisis, it’s already upon us – and while the Government is dithering, millions of older people are suffering and putting their health at risk because they can’t afford to keep warm. It is an absolute scandal and one that requires urgent government action.
“Energy price rises on the scale we are now seeing are unprecedented and the Government’s response must be equal to the threat they pose to older people, many of whom are vulnerable and struggling to afford exorbitant bills on a meagre state pension.”
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