County Durham woman has to 'have another think' about turning the heating on

A grandmother from County Durham says she’ll have to think twice before putting the heating on, after her energy bill doubled last week.

Susan Harrison, from Watt Street in Murton, saw her gas and electric bill rise from £61 to £120 a month.

“I won't be putting the heat on as much as I did,” she said.

She added that if her house is cold she might have put the heating on for an hour, but says “I'll have another think about that first, I won't just always flick that switch and turn it on.”

Susan runs a discount food panrty at the Heart on the Terrace cafe in Murton, County Durham Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

Susan, 63, has a small workplace pension after retiring from her job at a local school, but as a so-called WASPI, who missed out when the state pension age for women was raised from 60 to 66, she has to work part-time to pay the bills.

She works 16 hours a week at a local church where her duties involve running a budget food pantry based in Murton’s Heart on the Terrace cafe. Here customers can choose 10 items for just £3.

Among them is Teresa Hughes, who says the rising cost of living, especially food prices, is making life hard.

Teresa Hughes Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

“It just seems as though your money doesn't last,” she said.

She added that “if you go to an ordinary shop to buy a tin of Heinz soup, you're paying a pound,” and that the Pantry’s 10 for £3 scheme “is a big help”.

For Susan, while the work is an opportunity to “give something back to the community” which has “been very kind to me in the past, especially when I’ve been financially hard up”, she also “wouldn’t be able to pay the bills” without the income from the job.

Susan saves money by cooking all of her meals from scratch Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees

And even then, she keeps her costs as low as possible.

“At the most,” she said, “I would spend £20 a week on food. I'm very careful. I don't go shopping every week. I just go shopping when I need it.”

And, she adds, she’ll often hitch a ride with a friend to the shops ”so I don’t have to put petrol in the car.”

ITV News Tyne Tees is reporting from Watt Street in Murton, County Durham, on the impact of the cost of living crisis. Credit: ITV News Tyne Tees