Poor people hit hardest by rise in energy bills

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A CHARITY that helps poor families in Dacorum has said that it is very worried about gas and electricity price hikes because they have come at a time when the number of people asking for help is up almost 50 per cent.

News that British Gas, Scottish and Southern Energy and Scottish Power will raise their prices by up to 18 per cent from August has come as a blow to The Dacorum Community Trust.

The charity, based in High Street Hemel Hempstead, helps hundreds of families struggling to pay bills with a £20 grant.

Manager Margaret Kingston said: “We can’t make these payouts indefinitely because our funds are limited and if we have another cold winter it will be serious.”

In the past six months Dacorum Community Trust has had about 350 people through its doors asking for help, compared to almost 250 during the same period last year.

“We have helped a lot of people precisely because of the energy price rises. If you are on a meter, like many poor people are, you end up paying the most so the increases will impact most heavily on the people least able to afford it,” Margaret said.

Rising energy, food and rent costs are the three main issues affecting poor families in the borough.

Dacorum Community Trust gives out small grants to families to ease the pressure and also puts people in touch with advice and education services to enable them to help themselves.

Margaret said: “We are having to work even harder to try and raise more money through campaigns such as the Business Solutions for Charity Giving, launching in September.”