Pensioner’s energy bills triple to £265 a month and there’s ‘no point switching’

Ros Atkins on why energy bills are rising

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Tom Page saw his prices hike from £89 to £265 a month recently in line with the global cost of living crisis. Now, the 74-year-old man fears he will struggle to afford other bills and is worried the “terrible” situation will cause families to end up on the street. 

Tom, who is retired, looked to switch energy supplier from his current company, Bulb, but said other prices were just as “phenomenal”. 

Speaking to Manchester Evening News, the grandfather-of-two said: It was literally impossible to get a price. It’s like the system is completely controlled by the companies, there’s no such thing as competitive prices now and that worries me.

“I went on the internet to compare providers and looked on there and couldn’t get any further.

“I thought when I paid my mortgage, I could sit back and relax a bit.

“But my energy bills are now greater than what my mortgage was.

“I just think it’s terrible. The pressure on ordinary families must be enormous.”

Tom, who lives in a terraced two-bedroom house in Bury, Greater Manchester, claims he regularly submits metre readings to Bulb.

But he alleges these metre readings are not used and he is instead charged on estimated readings.

He said: “I send my figures on an app yet they never use the figures I’ve provided.

“The figures they provided me with were phenomenal.

“Given that they finally used the gas and electricity figures I provided them with they only charged me £170 for the month.

“How they manage to come up with the usage figures they assume I will use to arrive at £267 per month amazes me.

“They ignore the fact that summer usage will be much less simply because my gas fired boiler heating will not be used to heat the house and my lighting will also be reduced.”

Tom joined Bulb in June 2018 but the cost of living has increased significantly since then.

It’s been exasperated by the global COVID-19 pandemic, and is worsening because of the Ukraine-Russia conflict. 

“Compounded with the rising price of fuel, a lot of people aren’t going to survive,” Tom continued.

“Here I am, in a fairly good position, and I’m genuinely worried about it. How are normal people going to cope? It’s disgraceful.

“I’m genuinely worried about the cost because I live in a two-bedroom house.

“It’s getting to the stage where people are going to end up on the streets.”

Tom is one of around 1.7million Brits with Bulb, which was founded nearly nine years ago.

A spokesman for Bulb said: “When Mr Page first joined us in June 2018, his monthly payments were £148.39. By October 2021 he’d built up a credit balance, so Mr Page lowered his monthly payments to £104.97 and asked for a refund of all the credit in his account.

“As we head into winter, we recommend customers have credit in their account, as we all tend to use more energy in the colder months. Mr Page used more energy over the winter, and his new payments didn’t cover his usage. So in January 2022, we increased his payments to £200.73.

“Wholesale energy prices have quadrupled in the past year, so unfortunately we’ll be increasing our prices for customers on 1 April.

“Mr Page’s new monthly payments will be £265.33, based on the energy we think he’ll use over the next year. We’ll keep reviewing his usage over the next few months and will be in touch if we think he needs to change his payments again.

“Mr Page submits regular meter readings, and we take these into account when calculating his payments. We recommend he submits these readings at the end of each month so we can include them in that month’s statement.

“We know that this is a difficult time for many of our customers. We’ll send Mr Page details of the help we offer people if they’re worried about paying their energy bills.

“We can also look into getting Mr Page a smart meter which will make it easier to track and manage his energy usage, and means that he won’t have to submit meter readings.”

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