Cost of living: Man already skipping meals fears he won't be able to pay soaring energy bills

Lee Dinemuro tells ITV News how he is cutting back and fears homelessness as he faces "impossible" bills.

A man struggling with a long-term health condition on sickness benefits says he is already skipping meals as he prepares for soaring energy costs

Lee Dinemuro fears he will soon have nothing left to cut back on as the cost of living skyrockets.

The 63-year-old, from Essex, is eating "every other day" as he braces for energy bills to soar beyond his means.

Mr Dindemuro, who is medically retired due to a serious health condition and lives in sheltered housing in Harlow, says he barely gets by on his benefits now - and fears for his livelihood once the energy price cap rise kicks in.

He said he pays £40 a month for electricity to power his tiny bedsit, where he keeps everything but the fridge and TV switched off to save money.

He told ITV News he is bracing for "scary" bills as the first energy price cap change doubles the average household bill in two months.

Mr Dinemuro already eats just the one meal between 12 and 2 - "and that is it."

"I eat every other day, I do a wash once every fortnight - sometimes longer. Just about got enough clothes to get me past that."

On Friday, regulator Ofgem announced that the energy price cap would increase from £1,971 to £3,549, for the average household on a typical default tariff, starting from October.

Despite being set to double already record highs, analysts are warning of worse to come as the price cap faces a new review each month.

On Saturday, energy consultancy Auxilione released an updated forecast predicting a £7,700 average bill for a household on a typical default tariff from April 2023.

Mr Dinemuro is struggling to imagine how to pay what will soon be "impossible" bills.

"It would be very difficult for me to live beyond £65, probably. I could probably manage £65 - another £25 on top.

Watch ITV News political correspondent Kathryn Sansom's full report

"But we've seen the figures, they've actually trebled. So I'm expecting it to be £120. Impossible for me, absolutely impossible."

He added he would need "a lot of help from the state" than he is currently getting to cover bills of the size analysts are predicting.

"I'm grateful for every bit. It comes out of the working man's pocket, I know it does and I'm very grateful for that - it's good that it's there, and I'm not one that wants to abuse that system - I'd love to get back into work."

"(But) it would be untenable for me to have to pay that sort of money - £120 a month. That would be my whole food budget, clothing budget, gone out the window. Simple as that."

(PA Graphics) Credit: PA Graphics

Mr Dinemuro, whose flat is powered by electricity and has no gas supply, said he was already trying to drive down his usage to maintain his current bills of £40 a month.

He described cutting out meals, washing his laundry only every couple of weeks, and never using his clothes dryer - instead he uses an air drying rack crammed into his small living spaces.

He said he didn't know what more he could do, as he called upon the government to do more to help people.

"It's scary, and the price going up - I've got no idea. At the moment my direct debit every month is £40 for a little flat.

"And I'm worried that's going to go up beyond £100 which, when you're on state aid because of your health - it's untenable, basically."

Mr Dinemuro lives in sheltered housing, but told ITV News he has to look for a new place to live next year.

He fears rising private rents, alongside soaring energy prices, could drive him into a desperate situation.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know... 

Pressure is growing on the government to come up with more help for households struggling with bills, on top of October's £400 in energy bills discounts and the £650 cost of living payment for vulnerable individuals, announced earlier this year.

On Sunday, Boris Johnson penned a Mail+ article assuring whoever replaces him as leader would be announcing a financial package, to help households struggling with "eye-watering" energy bills.

It comes after Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi warned even middle-earners on salaries of around £45,000 would struggle to cope with soaring living costs as the energy price cap is hiked again, and inflation hits a 40-year high.

The i newspaper reported leadership contender Liz Truss is set to give extra winter fuel payments to pensioners to help ease the burden, despite in the past insisting she was focused on tax cuts rather than “handouts”.

Her rival Rishi Sunak, meanwhile, said he will provide additional support targeted at the most vulnerable, and criticised her promises of tax cuts.

Sources didn't deny reports on Sunday that Ms Truss was also considering a 5% VAT cut to relieve pressure on household spending.

Rishi Sunak and leadership rival Liz Truss Credit: Ben Birchall/Clodagh Kilcoyne/PA

ITV News was told Ms Truss was considering many options, but it wouldn't be right for her to announce them before she is potentially elected as leader.

The Labour party said it would freeze energy bills over the winter if it took power.

Mr Dinemuro described a deepening sense of frustration with the government, saying the Tory party appeared distracted by the leadership race while people faced crisis.

"I fear I'll be a statistic if I do end up becoming homeless - and with my medical needs that means I'll be dead.

"There's going to be lots of people in that situation unless the government pull their finger out and actually do something.

"Don't let the civil servants say 'oh, we can't do that'. Do something. Actually lead the country."