Energy crisis: 'they should find other things to tax rather than food and fuel'

The Government should find other things to tax rather than food and fuel with the Whitby area bracing itself for an eye-watering rise in gas and electricity bills.

Monday, 27th September 2021, 10:21 am
Updated Monday, 27th September 2021, 10:22 am

That’s the view of Debbie Swales of Revival North Yorkshire, the community interest company which serves parts of the Esk Valley.

She told the Gazette this week that she’s “really concerned” about the impact the fuel crisis will have on elderly residents.

“Some older people are extremely careful with money, because they come from a generation that have had to be,” she said.

Debbie Swales

“The concern is that even if they can afford it, they don’t think they can. They’ll think ‘I better not turn it on’ or ‘I better not turn it up’.

“It’s a generational thing, they just feel that they need to be careful. They’re going to be extremely cautious about using more. Fuel and food are necessities.

“I think they should find other thing to tax like alcohol, holidays and other luxuries, not basics like food and heat.

Revival North Yorkshire aims to revive the community spirit and improve the well-being of the community, particularly the elderly, in the North York Moors.

Scarborough and Whitby MP Robert Goodwill is hoping the crisis is going to be a short-lived problem but said the cost of heating the home, approaching winter, is a big challenge and people on fixed incomes will be facing some difficult times.

He said: “For some of the vulnerable consumers, sadly they’re the ones least likely to have gone out and got a competitive price.

“The message is, do make sure you’re on the best tariff you can get, even with these high prices because although we’ve limited the standard variable tariff price that people can pay, it is still generally more than if you go online on the price comparison sites or even talk to your existing supplier and get a better price.

“Sadly a lot of people, particularly elderly, who aren’t internet-savvy or don’t really understand how the market works, I would encourage them to get help from younger relatives or people they know to get a better price so they can limit the impact on themselves.

Mr Goodwill said that there are good opportunities for people to do a few more hours, a bit of casual work in the evening.

“I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea to take a bit of extra work, but at least those opportunities are there, particularly in the hospitality sector for people who want to augment their household income now we’re coming out of lockdown,” he added.

Kate Urwin, from Yorkshire Energy Doctor CIC, said that many people “just don’t realise” that there is financial help out there and they struggle.

“Their financial worries can in turn affect their health and wellbeing and even their ability to do their jobs which is why it’s so important that they get help as soon as possible,” she said.

“We have all been at home a lot more over the last 18 months and inevitably that is going to have a knock-on effect on our energy costs.

“It will be a challenging winter with the ongoing price rises but you don’t need to suffer in silence, there are schemes and grants out there to ease the burden.”

Neil Bradbury, CEO of Age UK Scarborough & District, said he was worried about the impact on pensioners being unable to afford their bills while Covid is still rife.

He said: "Rises in fuel prices hit pensioners hardest, with a study last year showing that 2.8 million pensioners across the UK are rationing their energy usage because of concerns of cost, and these projected rises will mean many more older people face the dilemma of ‘heat or eat’.

“As a charity we are here for the vulnerable older people of the district and would encourage them to get in touch with us.”