DISABLED dad-of-two Matthew Allen is petrified that his family will go hungry as energy bills rocket.
Matthew, 35, from Leiston, Suffolk, is cutting back on groceries so he has enough cash to top-up his prepayment meter, which costs him around £300 a month.
He barely has enough money to cover this cost now, and is dreading winter when he reckons he'll be spending £700 a month topping up.
“We’re constantly worried about being able to afford food,” he said.
“We’ve cut out roast dinners and we go to our parents a lot for meals – even to the point where they have suggested we stop over there a couple of nights a week to save on electricity and gas.”
“It’s scary – for people always in credit like we are, I don’t understand why we should be hammered with the highest rate.”
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Matthew spoke to The Sun about about his concerns – as we demanded the Government regulator Ofgem and suppliers to do more to support prepayment meter customers.
The 35-year-old ex-tattoo artist, who suffered spine damage during an operation in 2013, pays for his bills on a pay-as-you-go-basis with supplier Utilita.
He says his bills are becoming “impossible” to pay as his family gets £2,000 a month in benefits – £750 of which goes on rent.
However, households are being hit by rocketing bills regardless of who their supplier is, as four million prepayment meter customers are set to pay even more for their energy this winter amid miserable price hikes.
Experts have predicted the average energy bill could rise to more than £3,600 from October.
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But prepayment meter customers are likely to pay even more than this -the price cap set for these customers is set higher.
The price cap limits how much suppliers can charge customers for their energy.
It currently stands at £1,971 for customers on standard variable tariffs, but is £46 more for prepayment customers £2,017 – but this is set to rise.
Energy regulator Ofgem will announce on August 26 how much the price cap will be this winter – the change will take effect on October 1.
Previously, the family had always been on credit in their meter, but Matthew worries about falling into debt this winter.
He lives with his wife Emma, 25, and two children Ella, 4 and Zakk, 6. His wife is also unable to work due to a crushed nerve in her spine.
They are making big sacrifices to build up savings ahead of higher bills this winter.
"We've had to cut back on everything – we've cut our TV subscriptions, and we've swapped to pay as you go contracts for our mobile phones.
"We're not turning on the computer or TV.
"Even though we're going to get the £400 cost of living voucher, it's hardly going to cover our energy bills come Christmas."
How to cut down on your energy bills
There are ways to cut down on your energy bills to help ease the squeeze.
Schemes such as the Welfare Assistance programme and Household Support Fund are run by local councils that hard-up households can apply to.
Both help struggling residents by dishing out free cash, food vouchers, and help for bills like rent and energy.
The help you can get varies for both schemes, as each authority decides what assistance to offer.
Energy suppliers offer cash grants to those hardest hit by bills rises.
For instance British Gas is giving out up to £750 through its hardship fund – and you don't even have to be a customer.
It's a good idea to check what benefits you can get too.
Entitledto's free calculator works out whether you qualify for various benefits, tax credits and Universal Credit.
If you don't want to register, consumer group MoneySavingExpert.com and charity StepChange both have benefits tools powered by Entitledto's data that let you save your results without logging in.
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