Energy bills: Chairman reveals 140% increase in calls for help
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Despite energy bills going up 54 percent in April, Josie was shocked when she realised that her monthly payment was increasing five times what she was paying before the energy crisis hit at the end of 2021. Josie, 35, explained that the massive hike had tipped her family from being financially secure to not knowing if they would make ends meet at the end of every month.
Josie and her husband Dave are “just an ordinary couple living in a completely ordinary mid-terraced three-bedroom house”. Yet their energy bills, which was £98 per month in October last year, have just risen to more than £500.
The couple, who live in Consett, County Durham, said they are already “cutting back and cutting back” but fear how the rise in cost of living will impact them in the winter.
“We don’t do anything out of the ordinary that would make our energy consumption any different than anyone else’s. Our fixed tariff ends this month and I’ve just been informed by our energy company that my energy bill will go from £195 to £523 a month,” she told Chronicle Live.
Josie continued: “Until October 2021, we were paying £98 a month. What will our bill be this coming October when the new price cap kicks in? £1,200 a month? We are a lot luckier than some people – we know that.
“We both work and in some ways I hate to complain because I know there are lots of people worse off than we are.
“But it’s so dispiriting to cut back and cut back, yet our wages are still disappearing faster every month. What use are three-minute showers and value groceries when you get hit with bills like this?
“We are cutting back and cutting back until I don’t think there’s much left to cut back on and eating into our savings, which I realise we are lucky to have.
“What use is a £400 one-off rebate against a monthly bill of £523? We both work full-time – we shouldn’t have to consider whether we can afford it if one of us fancies a hot bath.”
Josie said her anger and confusion was made worse by the fact that, according to her smart meter, the maximum amount of energy she had used since October was £135 in January.
Her usage, according to the smart meter, for last month was £91.
Josie said: “I was with Green Network Energy and transferred to EDF when Green went bust.
“I am on a fixed tariff which comes to an end on May 31, plus I am aware there is some debt on the account.
“I know all of these things add up. I also know that prices will be going up again in October and I know I am currently paying a lower rate than most people.
“However, even taking all of the above into account, how can EDF possibly come to the conclusion I need to pay around £400 more than I am actually using? I can’t pay this. No one can pay this.”
An EDF spokesperson said the £523 direct debit is made up of £453 towards ongoing usage and £70 towards the arrears.
They said: “We appreciate the £453 is currently more than the customer’s current energy consumption, but this is based on a projection for the next 12 months and takes into account the higher unit rates the customer will be paying for their energy from June 1.
“After conversations with the customer last week, we lowered the DD to £306 per month, an amount the customer was more comfortable with.
“However, there is the possibility of the agreed £306 not being a big enough amount to cover energy use over the next 12-month period.
“The next review is due in October 2022. One of the team will be in touch with the customer to recommend an instalment plan be set up to pay off the current arrears on the account.”
An energy discount worth £400 will be applied to the gas and electricity bills of households across the country from October.
Around 28million homes across England, Wales and Scotland will receive the new support, confirmed last week by Chancellor Rishi Sunak as part of a new £15billion cost of living package.
But there will be some people that miss out on the help.
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