Gas and energy crisis: Eastbourne charities say winter will be ‘even more difficult’

A potential energy crisis will make the winter months much more difficult for residents in Eastbourne, two charities expect.
Rising gas pricesRising gas prices
Rising gas prices

A potential energy crisis will make the winter months much more difficult for residents in Eastbourne, a local charity for older people expects.

Rising gas and electricity prices were announced last month which has led people to question if the UK is heading towards an energy crisis.

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A sharp rise in the price of wholesale gas has come just before energy regulator Ofgem’s price cap for suppliers is raised.

Pressure on wholesale gas prices has come from last winter being colder than usual in Europe, which meant the amount of gas stored was lower before a more recent increase in demand from Asian countries – which had also endured a cold winter.

As we move into the colder months, there are concerns for people staying warm through the winter and being able to pay their bills.

Age Concern is an independent charity for older people in Eastbourne.

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The charity’s chief executive John Trainor said, “The last 20 months has been particularly difficult for older people. Being locked down at home has not only resulted in loneliness and isolation, it has meant they’ve had increased fuel costs.

“The likely rise in cost of gas and electricity is going to make the coming winter even more difficult.”

John said older people are often ‘frightened’ of getting into debt so end up wrapping themselves up in bed all day to avoid having the heating on for too long.

He said, “If they can’t heat their homes properly, people risk making any underlying health conditions they might have worse - like respiratory and or circulation diseases. Which could lead to hospital admission or worse.”

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John said there are schemes out there to help such as winter fuel payments which he said you should get automatically.

He said, “If it gets especially cold there may also be cold weather payments. And there’s also pension credit which nearly a third of people don’t claim - but this is means tested and you need to be on a very low income to qualify for it.”

Some energy companies do have Priority Service Registers for vulnerable people which means that they will provide additional support for people of pensionable age – things like advance warning of power cuts or large print bills.

John said, “One important thing the register does provide is the promise that they won’t cut off your power between October and March if you get behind with your bills. You’ll still owe the money but at least you won’t be without heat in the coldest months of the year. There should be contact details on your bill if your supplier is part of the register.”

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Chief officer for Eastbourne Citizens Advice (CA) Alan Bruzon said, “People should contact us if they are worried. We can help with helping people understand the best tariffs to be on.”

The charity, which is part of the CA network across England and Wales, provides free confidential and impartial advice and campaigns on big issues that affect people’s lives such as money, housing and employment.

The charity’s goal is to help everyone find a way forward, whatever problem they face – this includes worries around the potential upcoming energy crisis.

He said, “We are here for everybody to help them get through this difficult time we have got coming up.”

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Citizens Advice had urged the government against the Universal Credit cut which was introduced at the start of this month. The £20 uplift was introduced in April 2020 as the pandemic hit people hard, but has now been removed.

The cut is estimated to have affected 10,610 Eastbourne families, according to a report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The foundation estimated that the cut could force 500,000 people nationwide into poverty, just as we head into the colder months.

Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of CA, said, “This is a hugely unsettling time for millions of energy customers. It’s particularly worrying for many on the lowest incomes who’ll be facing the double whammy of rising fuel bills and a benefits cut.”

These recent changes have resulted in a surge in people viewing the CA energy advice pages.

You can call Citizens Advice on 08001448848 or visit