Single mum on Universal Credit devastated as Scottish Power bills soar to £760 a MONTH

Energy bills: Chairman reveals 140% increase in calls for help

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The single mum saw her electricity bill soar to £760 per month and can no longer afford to heat her home and keep the lights on. Her situation has become so dire that her children have to stay elsewhere overnight and wanted to share her story to encourage energy companies to lend a hand to other families like hers.

Ms Elson, 32, first moved into her two-bed flat in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, Scotland in March 2021. 

She claims at first she needed £140 on her Pay As You Go meter every week, roughly £560 per month. 

Ms Elson has gone to her provider to enquire why her electricity bill has spiked, to which they responded that it was due to her appliances. 

However, at the time she only had a fridge-freezer, TV, kettle and cooker, as well as using plug-in storage heaters to heat her home. 

She explained that an increased bill is not a simple matter of making one’s budget tighter, but can often mean people have to then choose what to go without.

She said: “If I get something extra, I need to then struggle somewhere else, that being the meter, the internet bill, or not being able to watch TV for an hour in the morning before school.”

Ms Elson gets paid £860 for her work as a cleaner in two schools and receives some assistance from Universal Credit.

With the price hike, she has had to take on more shifts at work and has been on medication for anxiety and depression since January, which she says is due to her having to say goodbye to her children at the end of each day. 

Her electricity bill of £760 is almost double her rent of £475, and shockingly close to her monthly work income.

Alongside the financial stress, the situation has put a strain on her relationship with her family.

Ms Elson explained: “My children’s grandparents have to pay for my children’s shoes, coats, bags, lunches, sometimes clothes because everything I have goes on my meter.

“I have five children but three of them live with their father, they come to stay with me but it has been less because of this problem.

“My younger two have to be with their dad and siblings because I can’t afford to have the heating or lights on at night.”

Currently, she spends her nights at home with the heating and lights off, using candles to save her pennies. 

She strives to try and provide as much as she can for her children, often going without meals herself if it means they get to eat. 

However, she still feels guilty about her situation, she explained: “I have had to give up so much, I have given up having my other children stay over at the weekends, I have had to give up family days out. 

“I can’t do nice things with them or give them what a mother should be, because all my time goes on calling ScottishPower and all my money goes on my meter.”

In May of last year, Ms Elson was offered a £40 top-up code to help her stay on top of her electricity needs, which she believed did not need to be paid back, this however was incorrect. 

She went back to ScottishPower every few days until December requesting more of these codes, but this is when they told her they couldn’t provide her with any more as they “don’t like to put our customers in debt”.

Since then her meter has fluctuated drastically, claiming that she is £2,000 in debt and £300 in credit and Ms Elson is unsure if her rates have been adjusted to pay off these debts. 

Ms Elson shared her story in the hopes of getting electricity companies to act and help families like hers, saying: “It is unfair and upsetting. I just want things to change so that companies can’t do this to people.”

A ScottishPower spokesperson said: “We’ve been actively investigating the issues raised by Ms Elson, which are complex and involve a number of factors including whether the meter she had fitted is the best one for her type of property and energy use, the significant level of top-ups provided to the account – which require to be repaid – and resolving outstanding billing issues.

“Ms Elson has now chosen to pursue the matter with the Energy Ombudsman rather than the Extra Help Unit, therefore we will continue to do what we can to support the Ombudsman’s investigation, including arranging a customer liaison visit, but we will only be able to reach resolution once the Ombudsman’s due process has concluded.”

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