Walberton woman battling cancer afraid to heat her home amid energy bill increases

A woman from Walberton who is battling cancer has chosen to heat only one room in the house due to her energy bill increasing by more than 149 per cent.

Sally Ward, 67, is one of many people having to make difficult decisions within their household amid the rise in energy bills.

Due to her ongoing battle with late stage 3 cancer and going through tough chemotherapy, Sally said she has to make sure she is warm and her medicine is warm, otherwise her body could go into spasm.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

Sally said: “The particular chemotherapy drugs I am on necessitate me keeping warm or my face, mouth, throat, larynx, thorax and even jugular vein can go into paralysis or spasm when I am cold.”

Sally is battling late stage 3 cancer and if she is cold, her whole body could go into spasm

For the last year, Sally said her direct debit to ScottishPower for duel fuel for her two-bedroom house has been £81 a month. Her contract ends in February this year.

Sally said she asked about the price for after that time, and found out her bill would rise by £121 per month to £202 – an increase of more than 149 per cent.

She said this worked out to around 20 per cent of her income going on fuel.

She added: “At the moment, with around one month to go until my new tariff, I have retreated to my bedroom because I am trying to save money because I won’t be able to manage, and the most infuriating and insulting thing is that ScottishPower sent me a message offering to help me, but they sent me a debt manage plan and I have never ever been in debt in my life.

Sally is battling late stage 3 cancer and if she is cold, her whole body could go into spasm

“I am deeply, genuinely insulted by them sending me a debt manage plan before I am even in any debt.”

Sally has spent the past few days in her bedroom due to the pressures of her chemotherapy, but also because it is the only room she feels able to heat up.

She said: “This is the first time ever that I have actually been only in my bedroom and not in the rest of the house.

“When I’ve been poorly before, I always just get my dressing gown on, heat downstairs and chill out down there but the last few days I just think ‘well that is going to cost me a lot of money’.”

A spokesperson from ScottishPower said: “As has been widely documented, these are extraordinary times for the energy retail market with the number of failed energy suppliers who have left the market and the unprecedented rise in the cost of buying energy, which is at the heart of the energy market crisis.

“Every energy supplier is having to make changes to reflect the current market conditions, which are extremely volatile. This includes constantly revising tariffs and pricing structures to ensure they cover the cost of supplying energy to our customers and protect us as a business should customers choose to leave when we’ve already bought and paid for their energy.

“As a responsible business that ensures we are able to protect our customers and provide them with a secure supply of energy, this is the right approach for us to take.

“Tariffs are only available for a fixed period of time. The Fixed Price February 2023 tariff was removed from sale on Tuesday 18 January. Other valid fixed price tariffs are available to Ms Ward, as is the standard variable tariff which is subject to the price cap from Ofgem.

“This is currently the lowest-cost tariff on the market, although it is expected to rise in April. Our customer service team would be happy to discuss the different options available to her, with the understanding that these tariffs reflect current energy costs, which are vastly different from those experienced when she took out her previous tariff.

“Unfortunately, this is the market that all energy suppliers are now operating in – not just ScottishPower.”