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Hard winter ahead for elderly as energy prices rise once more

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 13, 2012

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Pensioners' groups in the Westcountry have condemned latest energy bill increases as "disgraceful" saying many now faced living conditions akin to poverty-stricken Russia in the 1920s.

British Gas, the country's biggest energy supplier, yesterday confirmed it was hiking electricity and gas tariffs by an average of 6%.

It immediately prompted warnings of a "long, cold winter" for the elderly and hard-up, with many expecting other energy suppliers to follow suit. Npower was next out of the blocks with an average rise of 8.8% for gas and 9.1% for electricity.

Bob Drabwell, chairman of the Cornwall Senior Citizens Forum, said: "It is another financial burden that people can ill afford. Everything is going up and this is going to hit people pretty hard.

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"People can't see a way out of this trap. The end of the tunnel is so far away now that people cannot see the light.

"We are getting to a state now, like Russia in the 1920s, where there is no food on the table, it is freezing cold and there is no hope. It is that bad."

Pensioners' activist Bob Turner, from Exeter, said the increase was "absolutely disgraceful" given the parent company Centrica posted a 23% rise in half-year profits at its residential arm to £345 million.

"Wholesale prices for suppliers are going down and yet prices for customers are going up," Mr Turner said. "I think we have every right to be outraged and no doubt other suppliers will follow suit.

"Describing it as a choice between 'heating and eating' has almost become a joke but for many, many pensioners it is a daily reality.

"Pensioners who aren't working have more time to brood on these sorts of things which might have an impact on their general state of health."

Low wages and an ageing population mean fuel poverty – where households spent 10% or more of their budget on energy bills – is particularly acute in Devon and Cornwall.

Government figures show there were 126,053 households classed as being in fuel poverty in 2010.

In the Westcountry around one-in-five are regarded as being in fuel poverty, with the highest rate of 21.3% being recorded in the Torridge and West Devon parliamentary constituency.

The St Ives constituency in Cornwall was next, with 8,147 – or 21.3% – of people struggling to pay their bills.

British Gas added to the pressure on households by putting an extra £80 on to its typical annual dual fuel bill.

A total of 8.5 million households will be affected from November 16.

British Gas managing director Phil Bentley said: "Britain's North Sea gas supplies are running out, and British Gas has to pay the going rate."

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  • Bleach  |  October 16 2012, 11:19AM

    Whether you like it or not, energy prices are rising and they will continue to rise. Cheaper North Sea oil and gas is more or less used up and energy has to be brought in from abroad. resources from abroad are running out too, which pushes the price up further. If you examine energy company books you'll se that pretty much all the profit they make goes back into the energy infrastructure, either by way or research or to prop up the national grid, which is falling apart. We don't want the national grid to fall apart because then there would be no way to distribute power, whatever its cost is and we don't want to stop investing in research and the future because when oil, gas and coal run out, which they will inevitably will, there will be no energy at all, whatever the cost. And with the way things are going in the Middle East that could be a whole lot sooner than you think. You can blame the energy companies if it makes you feel better, but the real blame lies with successive governments, both labour and conservative, for not planning for the future and allowing us to get in this state. Bit like the economy and the state of the banking system are their fault too.

  • josdave  |  October 16 2012, 8:17AM

    Energy prices would be lower if there was no profit motivation. British Gas announced a 23% rise in profits and almost the next day announced a hike in prices. In a fair society behaviour like this would not be tolerated bur with Ofcom and all the other regulators being totally useless and toothless profit rules OK?

  • SidneyNuff  |  October 15 2012, 5:08PM

    65 people a day don't die in this country because the energy companies were privatised. We are not living in conditions akin to the Soviet Union in the 1920's. And you are free to protest peacefully. To pretend things are otherwise will not win people to the cause of trying to get fuel prices down, people will just laugh at you.

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  • SJ101  |  October 15 2012, 2:55PM

    What this troll said was by SidneyNuff Monday, October 15 2012, 9:54AM ."oooooooooo! the scaremongering left, no one has died because of privatisation. We live in a mild climate, it gets down to -20 in Poland in the winter, drama queen." Then got its troll nose out of joint when proven to be wrong. I note the arrow abuse from this troll. As others say, people die, yes there are exceptions to the rule. This troll should be banned if he continues in this way

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  • smallboy2010  |  October 15 2012, 1:55PM

    My mum is 84 - she dosent have central heating - just a gas fire in the living room. She lives in a 60's house 9 three bed) with metal framed single glazed windows. She often boats to her freinds about making a profit on her energy bills with her " fuel allowance " !! How - she shuts doors - puts extra layers on dosen't heat the whole house to 25 degree C and turns appliances OFF when not needed. When we visit we keep our jumpers on and dont lounge around in shorts and we respect teh fact that other parts of the house may be cold. Oh and she pays about 5 pounds a month on her water as she recycles and is thrifty. This reminds me sooo much of the type of people who cant afford to live and yet have regular holidays, sky tv , 2 cars, etc etc. BTW she has no other income except her state pension and will not accept help from the rest of her family. She runs a car and feeds and clothes herself and even buys the grandchildren a little gift at Christams. It can be done - if you want to !!!!

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  • SidneyNuff  |  October 15 2012, 1:53PM

    Mossy, the comment was aimed at Bjones who tells us that 65 people die a day in the UK because we privatised the energy companies. Or so one nutty professor in Ireland tells him. That's a day Mossy, not per annum. And why do you think you cannot protest peacefully. However as the article presents the UK today as akin to Soviet Russia in the 1920's do you believe you would have had greater free speech protesting against the soviet state in the 1920's. Count yourself lucky and buy a nice warm jumper.

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  • madmossy  |  October 15 2012, 12:38PM

    Did I say that, no. 65 people die a year because the cost of living is ever increasing at a time when incomes are stretched thin for all. British Gas reporting increasing profits when the wholesale cost of energy is decreasing yet the cost is increasing for consumers is irresponsible and just plain greedy. While the energy business isn't nationalised it may as well be, when ever British Gas increase prices, everyone else follows, why, because we the British people just take it on a chin and move on, rather than fight for what we want. In saying that though, if we did fight we'd probably get arrested for disturbing the peace, long gone are the days of peaceful protesting and free speech.

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  • SidneyNuff  |  October 15 2012, 12:15PM

    We would all like the cost of everything to come down, but don't try and tell us that 65 people die a day because of privatisation. And that Nationalisation is tha answer.

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  • madmossy  |  October 15 2012, 12:07PM

    No nearly 10,000 people die a year because the cost of energy has far out paced the income of the lower and middle class people. The national average salary is £24,000 per annum yet the average earnings the the south west and wales being below £18,000 and the rest of the country below £20,000 except the South East and London. The eldery have much lower incomes to survive on and as most will be indoors, adequate heating is a necessity, especially with winter being as harsh as it has been for the past few years with temperatures dropping to well below freezing, some places dropping to as low as -20c. With the cost of energy increasing by another 6% that's a near 20% increase in just under 15 months. At a time when people are still struggeling because of the recession the country is not recovering from what the banks did 4 years ago.

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  • Bjones  |  October 15 2012, 11:27AM

    I am not going to drag into this intention seekers games Via the use of facts, this is what makes her an expert, if you have anything which shows she is a left wing Irish professor has a gripe with the government of England as you claim, show all or be seen as a very ignorant person http://tinyurl.com/cfvcurm

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