‘Vulnerable’ Eastbourne couple calls for Government support amid rising energy prices

A ‘vulnerable’ Eastbourne couple has called for more support after being told they owe money and that their energy bills are going up.

A ‘vulnerable’ Eastbourne couple has called for more support after being told they owe money and that their energy bills are going up.

Dean and Elaine Martin from Burwash Close said they ‘cannot afford’ the increase in price but are in a difficult situation as they have medical equipment plugged in at home - including an electric hospital bed.

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Mr Martin, who is his wife’s full-time carer, said, “I don’t know what plan I have got because all I can do is search around the net to see what help I can get.

Elaine and Dean Martin SUS-220419-172743001

“We are not going to be able to afford it.

“We expect people might die because of the lack of support.”

The couple, who have described themselves as ‘vulnerable’, said they were told by British Gas on Wednesday, May 4, their gas and electric bill will increase from £62 to £167 a month - while also being £174 ‘in debt’.

After talking to the company, Mr Martin said he was told his bill could be lowered to £114 a month if the couple can lower their electric and gas usage over the next three months.

Mr Martin said they would still not be able to afford the £114 a month.

Mr Martin explained that their smart meter has been broken and that he had previously told British Gas about this.

Despite talking to different support systems, Mr Martin said they are not eligible for support in some instances because they haven’t got enough debt.

Eastbourne residents have recently received a £150 energy rebate, but Mr Martin thinks this is not enough.

He said, “That is not going to be month after month. How are people going to afford the increases in energy [prices] that have been affected by covid and the war?”

The couple has called for more support from the Government.

Mr Martin said, “The Government is supposed to support everyone, not just those on Universal Credit and working people. They are not supporting people like us on Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).”

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell said, “I am incredibly concerned to hear this couple are struggling.

“The Government has announced several ways in which it can help low income and vulnerable people with their energy bills in the form of targeted council support and allowances. The £150 rebate is just one of those ways.

“If Mr and Mrs Martin could get in touch with me specifically on this issue, then I can ask my team to see how we can help.”

British Gas said, “Mr and Mrs Martin’s situation sounds extremely difficult and we’d like to get in touch to find out a bit more, so we can see how we can help them.”