MILLIONS of people will struggle to pay their bills this winter.
Today, Ofgem announced the energy price cap – which limits how suppliers can charge customers – will rocket to £3,549.
It’s a bitter blow to households who are already battling soaring inflation and the prospect of a recession.
The energy regulator previously admitted that customers “face a very challenging winter ahead”.
We spoke to four readers who are worried about how they will cope when the price cap comes into effect on October 1.
We explain what help is available to households too.
‘I don’t know how I’ll heat my home this winter’
Pensioner Elizabeth Matley, 82, says she’s worries about how she will heat her home this winter.
Earlier this year, the former office secretary feared her energy could be cut off after she discovered she was unable to top up her meter when she moved into her new home.
Elizabeth said she may have to “layer up in fleeces” if the cash support she’s received from the government doesn’t last through the winter.
She said: “It feels like we’re just going to have to put up with.
“I’ve always been careful, but I’m going to have to be even more so – I will just wait, see and hope.”
What help can pensioners get?
The lowest income pensioners who receive Pension Credit are eligible for a £650 one-off payment.
They will also get a separate £300 payment, which is being given to low income pensioners this winter.
The big payment along with the separate £300 would add up to £950.
Pensioners should expect the £300 extra payment to arrive in November or December.
‘We won’t have Christmas this year’
Widow and mum-of-three Louise Parker says had to tell her children there will be no Christmas this year.
Her energy bills have already more than doubled from £68 to £151 a month since her fixed rate tariff ended in May.
Louise, a 48 year-old from Higham Ferrers, Northants clocks up more than 50 hours a week just to stay afloat.
She has to support her three children Heather, 12, Christian, 13, and Michael, 15 and she is resorting to credit cards just to pay for the basics.
She said: “Christmas is less than four months way and I’ve had to prepare my children for the worst.
“It’s not something you should be putting onto your children, but they had to know.
“I’ve already stopped cooking Sunday roasts and baking cakes because I’m worried about rising costs.”
What help can families get?
There are schemes offered by suppliers, local councils, charities and the government that could help people like Louise.
You should speak to your energy supplier in the first instance as they have schemes in place to help with bills and arrears, including hardship funds and grants.
Your local council may also be able to help with cash and grants if you are struggling with bills through the Household Support Scheme.
Every household will start to benefit from a £400 energy bill discount from October onwards.
‘We’ll be sitting in the dark this winter’
Mum-of-two Jo Gunn is terrified of soaring energy bills and fears her family will be sitting in the dark this winter.
Jo, who lives with her daughter, Lola, 23, and her son George, 21, has already seen her bills triple from £40 a month last summer to £120 today.
Jo pays for her bills on a pay-as-you-go basis with supplier E.on by topping up her prepayment meter.
Prepayment meter customers are likely to pay even more than this – the price cap set for these customers is set higher.
The 55-year-old from Brighton can’t work due to a painful back condition and claims benefits worth £866 a month – but says this barely covers her rent and bills.
She said: “I live in dread. The situation is hideous and it’s just going to get worse.
“I’ve hosted Christmas in the same way ever since my kids were little, but I’m not going to be able to do it this year.”
What help can prepayment meter customers get?
Like millions of others, Jo will be able to get some help with her energy bills through the government’s package of support.
Some energy companies also provide emergency credit to customers whose balances are running low.
This credit can be used to tide people over.
The Sun has put together a full list of energy firms offering emergency credit on prepayment meters and how much you can get.
‘I live alone and don’t know what to do’
Insurance worker Laura Preston-Rowe said she’s worried her energy bill will rocket when her fixed-rate tariff ends in February.
She currently pays just £30 for her gas and electricity.
The 29-year-old had to rebuild her credit score after missing a phone bill at the age of 18.
Falling behind on her gas and electricity bills could put a black mark next to her name once again.
She said: “I don’t know where the money is going to come from.
“I live on my own so I have no one to fall back on, and I work from home which means my gas and electricity is on all the time.
“I might have to start going into the office, but train fares are really high too, which makes it a really tough situation.”
What help can single people get?
Millions of households are eligible for a council tax discount.
If you live on your own, you can get 25% off your council tax bill.
This also applies if there is one adult and one student living together in a property, or if there is one adult and one person classed as severely mentally impaired in the home.
If you live with someone who doesn’t have to pay council tax, such as a carer or someone who is severely mentally impaired, you could get a larger reduction too, of up to 50%.
A full list of circumstances that exempt you from paying council tax can be found on Citizens Advice.
Check out The Sun’s full guide on all the energy bill help you can get.
If you’re struggling with your bills these organisations are here to help: