Families afraid of mounting bills under new price cap despite government help

  • Families have told of their fears as winter approaches, as ITV News Anglia's Matthew Hudson reports.

Families struggling to pay soaring bills have warned they may be forced to move back in with parents and grandparents in an effort to make ends meet this winter.

They said they were "hoping and praying" to survive the winter, even despite the government's intervention to cap the price households have to pay for each unit of energy.

After that support is taken into account - meaning that the average dual-fuel household will pay around £2,500 - many families will still be paying double what they were last year.

The warning comes as more communities and local authorities announced plans to open so-called "warm banks" - places where people without heating at home could spend time during the cold months.

Rhondell Uzomah, 31, and her husband live with their five-month-old son Levi in Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire, having moved into a new house in January.

They have already had to turn the heating on to keep Levi warm at night, and are worried about what the winter may bring.

Despite the government's help on energy bills - and the fact that she and her husband both work - she still fears that the cost may be too much and they may have to move back in with her parents.

Mrs Uzomah said: “It’s scary if it does increase too much - I already know that it’s over double the amount that we’ve been previously paying.

Rhondell Uzomah and her family are concerned about the impact of rising bills. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"But if it does increase too much, if things get too much, we might just have to pack up everything and move in with my mum and dad."

The family said they were already checking their smart meter more, wearing more layers, closing curtains early to keep the heat in, and being more cautious about turning on the heating.

Ms Uzomah said: "Honestly, we just don’t know what’s going to happen. We’re just hoping and praying that we can survive through the winter."

Elsewhere, communities are coming together to try to help each other through difficult times.

At the community cafe in Wymondham Baptist Church, organisers have set up a warm bank - somewhere that people can come to escape the cold at home if they cannot afford to switch on their heating.

On Friday, Margerita Gaygarova was visiting with her son. She said her rent had gone up, her maternity leave was coming to an end and she was afraid she may be made redundant.

"It's going to be a really difficult winter for us," she said. "Sometimes I just don't want to think about it because you'll go mad, you'll go crazy. I just don't know what to do. This little human is relying on you."

On the next table are friends Margaret Allen and Maureen Tyler, who say they expect to come to the church more often over the winter, in order to keep warm.

"I'm going to come in every time they offer it," said Mrs Allen. "It's a toss up between heating and less food. I'd rather have less food and be warm."

Her friend added: "Quite honestly I couldn't afford to keep the house heated all day and when it's really cold it's not pleasant so this is a good idea."

Pastor Paul Smith said the church would be handing out blankets and hot water bottles - but is dismayed that such help is required.

"We shouldn't be doing that in this day and age," he said. "There shouldn't be the need.

"Our electricity costs predicted for next year have gone up by £10,000. We are totally self-funded as a church, it's an increased cost.

"But the simple fact is our faith says love your neighbour as yourself, we'll do what we can."

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