'OAPs face grim a choice: heating or food shopping'
VULNERABLE pensioners in Swansea Bay are having to choose between heating their homes and eating, a leading charity has warned.
A host of energy companies have announced price hikes in recent weeks, with Npower, British Gas and Swalec owner SSE, all increasing the price of household bills.
Now older people's charity Age Cymru Swansea Bay has warned the increases have led to many pensioners worrying about the cost of heating their homes as the winter months set in.
The charity's director of business, Nicola Russell-Brook, said: "We are seeing more and more vulnerable people, particularly those over 75 who live alone and don't have many people visiting them, who are having to make quite a stark choice between putting on the heating and having something to eat — that is happening in Swansea.
"We are having a lot more inquiries from older people about how they go about switching providers.
"But one of the big issues around that is many older people, if they do switch will have to do it again in 12-18 months time when the fixed tariff is finished.
''A lot of it is done online — that is a major barrier.
"They do not have the means at home to look for a better deal."
Npower's dual fuel bills will go up by 10.4 percent on December 1, British Gas's prices by 9.2 percent on November 23 and SSE customer will see an 8.2 per cent increase from November 15. Ms Russell-Brook added older people were so concerned about receiving a large bill they simply didn't bother to turn the heating on and urged people worried to get in touch with them.
"They are so afraid they don't put it on," she said.
"Last year was a particularly bad winter and each year we run our winter campaign.
"We can help people look at their fuel bills, our staff can come to your home, and we can send a handyman round to make sure your home is properly insulated. If anyone is over 50 or concerned about a relative or a friend over the winter months then please get in touch."
Bosses from the three companies have been called to give evidence to MPs later this month about the price hikes. They will be questioned by the Energy and Climate Change Committee on October 29.