"It just doesn't seem as if it's ever going to stop": People tell ITV News of their "anxiety" over ever-rising energy bills amid increasingly cold weather
Residents of Greater Manchester have told ITV News of the "anxiety" they feel over fuel bills as the current cold snap worsens.
On Friday, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) issued a Level 3 cold weather alert covering England until Monday and the Met Office issued several yellow weather warnings for snow and ice in parts of the UK over the coming days.
The UK will see at least another seven days of arctic weather, in which temperatures could plummet to as low as -10C, wintry downpours and “freezing fog”.
For community members in the borough of Tameside, meeting for bingo was a chance for them to spend some time in a properly heated building, with one local, Kath Bennett, describing the community hub as a "lifeline".
"It's getting really hard, and the fuel bills are going up sky high, and it just doesn't seem as if it's ever going to stop, and at the end of the month I've hardly got anything left."
Jackie Lane, told how people at the Together Centre are seeing a lot more attendees struggling with their mental health as they are "worried about how they're going to eat" or pay their bills.
National Energy Action, a fuel poverty charity, has urged the government to provide more support for “those at greatest peril” amid the freezing conditions.
It comes as people on the lowest incomes in hundreds of affected postcode districts in England and Wales are set to receive a £25 cold weather payment.
The government payments have been triggered for eligible households in areas where the average temperature has been recorded as, or is forecast to be, 0C or below over seven consecutive days.
People in Scotland are not eligible for the scheme - instead, an annual £50 Winter Heating Payment could be made instead.
Only people on certain state benefits are able to claim the payment, and those who are eligible should be paid automatically without needing to apply.
But Adam Scorer, chief executive of National Energy Action, said more must be done and that “millions will have been dreading the onset of winter" due to “impossibly high prices".
“Our figures show that 6.7 million UK households are fuel poor after energy prices have almost doubled in a year," he added.
“We hear daily from people who are forced to turn their heating off when they need it the most.
“The vicious choice is either huge debt or an unheated home, with dreadful consequences either way. We will now start to see just how bleak this winter is going to be."
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said: “Cold weather payments can be triggered right through to the end of March, giving people facing disproportionately cold weather that extra reassurance over the chillier months.
“We’re committed to protecting the most vulnerable in our society and this additional help comes on top of wider government support including £1,200 in direct payments already issued to millions of low-income households this year.
“Alongside this, we’re providing households with £400 towards their energy bills this winter, with our energy price guarantee saving the typical household another £900 on top of this.”
The Met Office said temperatures “falling close to minus 10C” could be recorded in rural parts overnight on Thursday.
It has warned motorists that wintry showers will create hazardous, icy patches on some roads over the coming days.
The forecaster has extended a yellow weather warning for snow and ice in northern Scotland until 12pm on Sunday.
Yellow warnings for ice in coastal and northern England and parts of Wales and Northern Ireland have also been issued for Friday.
The icy conditions in coastal England and parts of Northern Ireland and Wales are expected to continue into Saturday, it warned.
It said icy patches on untreated roads, pavements and cycle paths are likely to cause disruption.
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.