'It's going to hit hard' - Devon town fears for future of pools and cafes due to energy costs

  • Watch Sam Blackledge's report

Community-owned leisure centres, independent cafes, and single mums in Buckfastleigh have spoken of their fears of energy bills going up.

The average household will be hit by a 5% rise in January - that's £94 a year - with regulator Ofgem citing 'ongoing conflicts' and 'market instability' as the reason.

Pam Barrett is a trustee for Devon's oldest outdoor swimming pool.

Pam said: "Two or three years ago our energy bill was less than £10,000 a year. This year it's forecast to be slightly over £30,000.

"That's just not sustainable. And unless they begin to come down, I think the whole future of swimming in communities and elsewhere is really under pressure."

The pool was saved from closure in 2014 but now faces an uncertain future. Credit: ITV News

Andrew Davis runs a small coffee shop in the town.

He said: "We can't just put our prices up, £6 for a cup of coffee just doesn't work.

"We can't cut our hours, because we need to be open to run our business.

"So we just have to open longer hours and hope that we can make a certain amount each week to cover the costs of everything that's been going up."

Those who will be perhaps hardest hit by January's price rise are young families who are already struggling to know which way to turn.One mum said: "I'm a single mum to two. So, I mean, we're coping at the moment, but yeah, if there is another rise, it's really going to hit hard".

Another told ITV News: "For a young child, you got to keep it at 22 degrees at home to make sure it's warm enough. And yeah, that definitely becomes a struggle, but hopefully, it'll be summertime, so maybe we'll be able to be okay, you know, just getting by"

Despite what looks like a tough winter for a huge number of families and businesses across the West Country, they are hoping that 'just getting by' now can turn into a brighter picture in 2024.