Former serviceman 'afraid to put the heating on' as he struggles with soaring energy bills

Watch Sarah Saunders report for ITV News

A former service man from Kent, has revealed he is afraid to put his heating on as energy bills continue to rise.

Darren Riley from Swanscombe, is struggling. He is unable to work at the moment because of heart failure and his partner is putting in 16 hours days as a community support nurse, but they are still finding it a challenge to pay the bills.

The majority of people are going to see their bill rise sharply in April, when a new much higher energy price cap takes effect.

The industry has predicted bills could surge by up to 50% - for the average household that might mean around an extra £600 a year.

Speaking about his struggle, Darren says he will often sit in a jumper and his dressing gown rather than switch on the heating.

"I know we are still young in comparison to other people but it makes you realise how heat management affects everybody", he says.

He added, "There's thousands of people in the same boat or even worse, and my heart goes out to them."

Darren and his partner cook Sunday lunch for an older neighbour, who he says, also sits in the cold.

Darren Riley

Energy prices went up through 2021 but bills are expected to rise sharply again in April, when a new and much higher price cap comes into effect.

  • The industry has predicted bills could surge by up to 50%

  • For the average household that might mean paying around an extra £600 a year.

  • It could increase the average year family bill to around £1,865

Bills could go up by around £600 in April according to some analysts

At the Medway Foodbank they've seen a rise in demand as people struggle to pay, for what should be the basics.

Lorraine Schulz runs the food distribution centre in Chatham.

She says she has seen children sitting in the cold with coats on, waiting for her to bring them their dinner.

She continued, "These are the kind of situations people are in, trying to chose between heating and eating."

Lorraine Schulz, Medway Foodbank

A Government spokesperson said: “We know people are facing pressure with the cost of living - which is why we’re taking £4.2 billion of decisive action to help. 

“Our support includes reducing the universal credit taper - a tax cut worth over £2 billion -  supporting households with their bills through the Energy Price Cap, Warm Home Discount Scheme, Winter Fuel Payments, Cold Weather Payments, and Household Support Fund, as well as freezing alcohol and fuel duty.”

Click here to find out what support is available if you are struggling to pay your energy bills.

Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB) lists suppliers that offer grants: