'It's like sleeping outside…' Soaring home bills leave people exposed in the cold winter


The 54-year-old relies on carers and walks with a stick, but is following the advice given to her by her energy firm to the letter. Thelma, ofWednesbury,West Mids, left her post as an NHS support worker a year ago after being assaulted on the job. Since then, her monthly gas and electricity bill has shot up from £44 to £99, meaning she can afford to heat only one room. She has burns on her arms from trying to keep her wood burner going and has started using food banks to make ends meet.

“I live in this one room,” she said. “There’s only me and the dogs, so why am I being charged this much for electricity and gas? In bed you’re so cold that it’s like you’re sleeping outside. My carer gets me dressed and I wear two pairs of leggings, a pair of trousers, a vest, a T-shirt and a dress – and I’m in the house. I can’t sleep at night thinking about what I can cut out.”

Elsewhere, a grandmother’s energy bill could rise to £100 a month, up from £67, when April’s new energy price cap comes in. Diane Skidmore, 71, said her bill has already climbed from £40 in October despite her efforts to keep costs down.

Diane, who lives in a council flat in Brixton, south London, and gets some benefit from the winter fuel payment and the Warm Home Discount Scheme, said: “My £40 a month used to be plenty. I was in credit. I’m wearing trousers, woolly socks, a thermal T-shirt as well as a cord dress and a thick cardigan because my heater’s not on.”


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