‘No way to clear debt’ Pensioner ‘frightened’ to discover he owes £3,485 for energy bills

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On BBC Money Box, pensioner James got in touch to discuss how frightening his situation is to him and he “can’t afford to do anything else”. Families on a low income face more than a quarter of the money they have left after paying their mortgage or rent on energy bills from April next year.

New figures from the Joseph Rowntree foundation, based on predictions from Cornwall Insight, reveal that the typical annual bill could reach more than £3,300 in the new year.

James is 77 and lives in a two bedroom maisonette with his wife.

He receives a reduced state pension because he worked abroad and as a coupe they get some universal credit.

He said: “The frightening thing about energy is that I pay a monthly payment of £50 on a direct debit, but they told me for June that I actually used £217.40.

“They have calculated that my debt to them at the moment is £3,485.

“There is no way that I am every going to be able to get near clearing that debt.

“So my total income is £440 per month, but they want me to increase my direct debit to £327 a month. This is just out of the question.

“Doesn’t even bear thinking about to think we have to put the heating on. It’s either eat or keep warm and in my case I can only eat because I can’t afford to do anything else.”

The statistics show that pensioners could end up spending more that one fifth of their income after housing costs just one energy.

Energy bills are on the rise in the UK and are expected to go up even further in the months ahead.

Cornwall Insights suggests that the energy price cap is likely to hit £3,000 by January.

Pressures on the wholesale gas and electricity market, partially resulting from the war in Ukraine, are hitting the pockets of everyday Britons hard.

Consumers will experience a substantial price hike in October before seeing their energy bills reach the £3,000 threshold three months after.

In light of this, the Government has rolled out various support schemes, including a non-repayable energy bill rebate worth £400, to mitigate the damage caused by the price hike.

This reduction on a household’s energy expenditure will appear as a credit from energy suppliers as of October.

Eligible households do not need to apply for this rebate as it will be automatically applied to their energy bill.

Pensioners may be eligible for over £1,000 in support from the Government amid the cost of living crisis.

In total, there are two payments which are worth £650.

By the end of this month, those who are eligible should receive a payment of £326.

Some pensioners could be set to receive even more support, particularly useful due to the news energy bills will rise going forward.

It is thought eight million people could benefit from a cost of living payment including those receiving Pension Credit, Universal Credit, and tax credits.

So, in this case, only low income pensioners will be able to benefit from the £650 payments.

Pensioners will also, however, be supported through a one-off £300 cost of living payment.

It means in total some could receive £1,100 worth of support for this year.

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