Brits such as Patricia Beckett are paying half their income in energy costs
Rising costs for food, petrol, and electricity have left many households struggling in the UK, with some facing a choice between heating or eating. Brits are warning they are being left “skint” from sky-high prices – prices that are set to rise further still, reaching nearly £5,500 a year from next spring, say experts.
One person grappling with high energy bills is Patricia Beckett, 85, who lives in Merseyside.
Patricia, a retired civil servant, has around £1,000 a month in pension income. However, she has seen her energy bills go up from £146 to £500 a month, or around £6,000 a year, stealing away half her income.
Speaking to the Mirror, Patricia’s son said his mother was “quite stressed just thinking about it”.
“When my mum emailed me about it I had to read it six times because I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “Half of her income is just going on gas and electricity.”
Another billpayer struggling with rising energy bills is Joanne Hussey, 46, a part-time shop assistant.
“I can’t work full time as I care for my autistic adult son,” she said. “I’m on only £1,250 a month, by the time I pay rent and council tax I’m left with £650. That’s to buy food for three adults, a cat and two dogs – plus an iguana.”
Joanne said her energy bills are “already extortionate” as she has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which causes breathing difficulties.
“I have to use dehumidifiers for at least 18 hours a day or I cannot breathe,” she said. “By the time I pay car insurance, diesel water rates and other bills I’m skint already. There is absolutely no way I can afford another energy price hike. I won’t be eating or having heating on this winter and I will probably end up either in debt or behind on my rent.
“It’s disgusting, unjust and inhumane, forcing people into abject poverty, while these [energy] companies make billions in profit. I don’t know what’s happening to Britain. All I am positive of is riots, crimes will be sky-rocketing – and deaths.”
Alan Davis lives on a boat to save money
Alan Davis, 73, moved onto a boat to help tackle rising bills, after being unable to afford rent after a relationship breakup. He says moving onto his boat means his monthly outgoings have fallen to around £350 – which pays for energy and the use of facilities at the marina he lives at.
Alan, a primary school governor and former engineer and trade union representative gets around £800 a month in pension income.
“So there was no way I could afford to live in a house,” he said. “But we had lived on a boat as a family before and I knew I could afford it and have a place of my own.”
Yet, even with the savings found from living on his boat, Alan said the rising cost of energy has become more and more unaffordable. Alan, who spoke to The Mirror via campaign group 38 Degrees, buys electricity from the marina, and uses bottled gas as well. But electricty now costs £20 a unit, going up to £39 in October.
Gas bottles have also gone up in price – from around £23 for a 17-kilo bottle to around £56.
“I’m saving money but only just about living,” he said “I was despairing back in the autumn and had to chose between eating and heating.
“The Government are offering some help to people, it’s woefully inadequate but it is being offered. Because I get a full state pension I don’t get any other benefits. There is a belief that pensioners are really well-off but I can tell you we aren’t. I would like to stress how difficult life can be if you’re off grid especially as a pensioner or on benefits.
“I know that many people on board boats not out of choice, but because that’s where life’s taken them, and sometimes that’s all they can afford.”
Another person feeling the strain is teaching assistant Preti, 51. Preti has said her bills have gone up from £75 a month for gas and electricity to £310.
Preti said she has been forced to cancel spending on other areas of her life in order to pay these bills.
“We’ve had to dip into our savings we had put aside for our daughter’s university degree,” she said. “I think it’s ridiculous.
“I think we as a family are trying to cope but there’s only so much you can do. With energy we try to save money and use LED bulbs and so on. But it’s so expensive. what do you cut out on – it’s just food to cut back on.”