The community has already been living on a financial “knife edge”, said Brian Thomas, chief executive of Hospitality and Hope, which runs a shop providing bags of donated groceries for a small fee.
Since the coronavirus pandemic started, the number of people using the charity has doubled to 6,000. But Thomas said the most notable trend in recent months was that the number of people with jobs, especially those with families, referred to the shop had grown “exponentially”.
“I was talking to a lady yesterday whose landlord had put up her rent by £100 a month and then told her he was putting it up by another £50, because his costs have gone up,” said Thomas. “And, of course, her income isn’t going to go up. She was hysterical.”
The woman was on a prepayment meter for her energy and had a four-year-old daughter, he added. “She said ‘I’m making decisions every day whether to put money on my gas and electric or feed my daughter’,” he explained, underlying her plight by adding: “Feed my daughter. Not herself!”
On Friday, regulator Ofgem delivered the news millions of households around the country were dreading. It raised the energy cap by 80 per cent, which means an average annual bill will jump to £3,549 from October, driven by soaring wholesale gas prices, as winter approaches.
Worse still, the 4.5mn, mainly poorer, households on prepayment meters have a higher cap, and must pay in advance rather than spread their costs via direct debit over the year. To further compound the plight of millions, energy analysts forecast the cap could rise above £5,000 for the…