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Mum 'scared to turn heating on' after energy firm collapses ahead of £20 Universal Credit cut

A MUM-of-two has said her family will have to choose between "heating or eating" this winter due to rising energy bills and the Universal Credit cut.

Energy firms are hiking bills due to spiralling wholesale gas costs, while the extra £20 a week Universal Credit uplift will end next month.


Tori Oram's energy supplier Green went bust this week – and her bills with a new firm will jump by hundreds of pounds compared to her current fixed deal.

She told The Mirror that the double whammy of soaring energy costs and the cut to Universal Credit has left her "terrified".

Tori, a retail manager, said her family usually has just £200 in disposable income at the end of each month, which often goes on clearing their credit card bill.

They have already cut costs by moving to a home with cheaper rent and by doing their food shopping at Lidl.

Tori, whose husband cannot work due to a spinal condition, said: “I honestly feel we are looking at a choice between heating and eating this year."

Sandra Hayes told the newspaper that money worries keep her awake at night, and the changes will force her into an overdraft.

“I'll think twice about putting the heating on and will put an extra layer on instead," Sandra, from Guildford, said.

“It makes me feel anxious and it keeps me awake at night. If one unexpected bill comes in or an appliance breaks down, I may have no way of paying to replace or repair.”

Several energy firms have already gone bust, with experts predicting up to 25 could close during the crisis.

Avro Energy and Green went into administration on Wednesday and People's Energy and Utility Point closed down last week.

When an energy supplier collapses, its customers are automatically transferred to another company.

While any credit you have will be protected, the new supplier doesn't have to honour your existing deal.

That means energy bills will soar as firms have pulled their cheapest fixed rates from the market as wholesale gas prices have risen.

Meanwhile, the government is pushing ahead with its £20 a week cut to Universal Credit.

Claimants were receiving an extra £80 a month to help them during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the boost is set to come to an end from October 1 despite calls for an extension from politicians and charities.

How can you get extra cash if you're on Universal Credit?

Universal Credit claimants can apply for a Budgeting Advance to help with unexpected costs – but this is a loan that you will have to pay back.

The smallest amount you can borrow is £100, and you can get up to £384 if you’re single, £464 if you’re part of a couple, or £812 if you have children.

You can use the Turn2us online grant search to find out what grants you could be eligible for based on circumstance – and grants don't have to be repaid.

We've outlined all the other help you might be eligible for, including with school uniforms, council tax and maternity costs.

How can you get help paying for energy bills this winter?

There are several schemes that could help you cover fuel costs this winter.

Some people can get up to £300 off fuel payments during the coldest months of the year with the annual tax-free benefit that’s available.

Eligible pensioners can receive annual one-off winter fuel payments from the government of between £100 and £300.

Low income households can get £25 a week to help with energy bills during the winter thanks to the cold weather payment scheme too.

You might be eligible for the warm home discount scheme, which would give you a £140 payment that goes toward your heating costs.

It’s not paid to you, instead it’s a one-off discount on your bill for the period between September and March.

It might not be too late to apply for a Covid Local Support Grant from your council, which can be used for energy bills and other essentials.

The scheme comes to an end this month, so contact your local authority to find out if they can help.

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