Bureau advisers help Carl get a cheaper gas bill
CARL Smith was having to pay £15 a week for his gas until the Citizens Advice Bureau stepped in to help.
Carl, who lives on £88 a fortnight benefits, could not have his gas meter read when he moved into his house in The Bayle, Folkestone, because the meter could not be found.
He had not been there long when a flood in the kitchen meant he had to move out for four weeks.
He said: “The builders came in to repair the damage and fit a new kitchen and had to put £40 into the gas meter just to get the heating on to dry out the dampness.
“I contacted the energy company and was told I had to pay £15 a week for the gas and they would not budge.
“I am paying £7 a week into an electricity pre-payment meter, which is just about manageable, but there was no way I could afford that for the gas.
“I said I wanted to pay £15 a month but they would not move. I could not afford to move back in because of that.”
Carl went to Shepway Citizens Advice Bureau and after their intervention the gas company told him he could pay £4 a week.
“Without their help this would not have happened,” said Carl, who has two children, Ruben, five, and Malaci, three months, who often stay with him.
Mother-of-four Tonia Phillips feels she is running to stand still with her gas and electricity bills.
A single parent, she has had pre-payment gas and electric meters fitted after getting into debt.
Tonia, of Ellesmere Mews, New Romney, only has her hot water on for two hours a day and heating for an hour a day for her and children Demi, four, Jade, eight, Jordan, 11, and Danielle, 12.
She said: “I got into debt with both the gas and electric and was threatened with court action. Tonia Phillips’s mother Janice Graham with Demi and Jade Phillips
“My only option was to have pre-payment meters fitted. But for every £10 I put into the electricity meter, the company takes £7 to clear my debt plus 45p a day service charge.
“I have cleared the gas debt now but am still paying the service charge for the meter.”
Tonia went to the Citizens Advice Bureau, which has con- tacted her supplier about the service charge, but she is not hopeful of anything being done to help her.
She pays about £30 a week into her electricity meter and £20 a week for gas. She said: “I feel like I will never be out of debt. I feel like I am running to stand still. Roll on summer, when I will not need the heating on.”