A SOLIHULL pensioners group has warned that locals could be forced to choose between heating and eating this winter, after an 8.2 per cent price hike by one of the nation’s energy giants.
One of the ‘big six’ energy companies SSE announced they were making the increase at three times the rate of inflation for 10 million customers. The move follows a nine per cent rise last year.
Its decision is expected to be followed by other power companies, threatening misery for millions this winter.
Syd Ashby, chairman of the Solihull Pensioners’ Convention, warned it could force many into making a difficult choice.
“Obviously it’s very bad news for pensioners and those on low incomes generally,” he said.
“People have to make that awful choice between heating and eating.
“We have a lot of needless deaths in this country because of poor heating... these price increases will see things get worse.
“Some pensioners will have to go to public places like libraries to keep warm, if they are mobile enough to get out.”
SSE boss Will Morris apologised to customers for the hike but blamed the Government’s green taxes and the rising cost of energy for the price rise.
Age UK’s charity director, Caroline Abrahams, said energy bills were already a “huge concern” for thousands of older people who risk their health in the daily battle to keep warm during winter and urged ministers to take action.
“With fuel poverty levels set to rise, now is the time for the Government to end this national disgrace by committing to recycle carbon tax revenues to make low income homes more energy efficient.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband has renewed his call for energy bills, currently at a record high of an average £1,315 a year, to be frozen.
But Solihull MP Lorely Burt said there were concerns the plans, which were rejected by the Coalition, simply would not work.
“They tried it in California and it resulted in widespread blackouts,” she said.
“We can’t risk the lights going out here too.
“That’s why we have rejected this as an idea because we just don’t think it will work.”
For advice on fuel poverty call Age UK Advice on 0800 169 65 65 or visit www.ageuk.org.uk.