‘So stressed!’ PIP claimant ‘left with no money’ after energy bills more than tripled

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

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Graham lives in the UK, but cannot work due to several health conditions and so receives both PIP and Universal Credit. Living alone, he struggled to afford his energy bills which were £50 a month.

However, now these have more than tripled, and he is extremely worried about how he will cope. 

Graham told Citizens Advice: “I’ve asked my supplier to take the payment on a certain day to make sure there’s money in my account, but they take it whenever they want. 

“When I try calling them it’s so hard to get through to someone. And if I do, they basically say there’s nothing they can do. 

“There have been a few times that they’ve left me with no money. This has meant I’ve either had to contact my bank to get the money back or go to the food bank.

“I try to use as little gas and electric as possible. I rarely cook, I don’t use the lights unless I absolutely need to. 

“Because of my health, there can be a week or longer that I go without using any energy as I can’t get out of bed.”

Graham explained his fixed energy plan came to an end in May, and he was shocked to hear his bills would be going up.

His supplier informed him his new direct debit would be £180 per month, and at a time when he was already struggling, this snowballed his fears.

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He added: “How on earth am I expected to pay that? 

“I’m so stressed and I’m seriously considering giving up my home and moving into a shared property as I just can’t afford the cost of energy.”

Graham’s concerns come as Citizens Advice has called for urgent improvement in energy companies’ customer service.

The charity found customer service standards have fallen to a new record low, analysing the latest star rating table published today.

The average time to wait on the phone to speak to a supplier has now been recorded at approximately six and a half minutes, compared to just under four minutes during the same period in the previous year.

Companies were also found to be slower responding to emails, on average replying to 62 percent of correspondence within two days – compared to 66 percent during the same period in 2021.

Citizens Advice assert standards have plummeted since June 2021, with millions of customers deciding to shift to new suppliers as a result of their own provider falling short.

Energy suppliers must help people who cannot afford their bills, but many suppliers are struggling with increased demand over the past year.

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The charity has warned that without swift action to tackle poor customer service, standards will only worsen.

It could create chaos come the winter, when energy bills are expected to hike once more. 

Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “At a time when customers need all the support they can get, it’s worrying to see service performance is the worst on record. This leaves people frustrated and in the dark at the end of the phone.

“For many families on low incomes, life will get even harder when the price cap goes up again in October, despite government support. 

“We recognise call centre staff are working incredibly hard to answer as many calls as possible, but energy companies must do better.  

“This should include improving support services for people struggling the most. Ofgem should make sure suppliers are following the rules, and take action where needed.”

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