Man ‘suicidal’ over soaring bills as ‘half a grocery bag’ can cost £40
Danny O’Kane, 55, of Hampstead, London, is treating long-term problems with sleep apnea and lung disease, which means he has extra expenses as his breathing problems often keep him at home
A 55-year-old man said he lay in bed at night tossing and turning, fretting about money and how he’s coping with the rising cost of living in London.
Danny O’Kane is one of many struggling with rising energy, fuel and food bills.
Danny, from Hampstead, London, is treating long-term problems with sleep apnea and lung disease, which means he has additional expenses like heating bills as he often stays at home with his breathing problems.
The former school administrator, who is currently on Universal Credit, had gas and electricity bills of £40 a month at a disability rate, but he received a letter saying his bill had risen by 54 per cent.
He says £40 is enough for just a few days of shopping.
Danny tells MyLondon : “These are dark, scary times right now. I’ve never known it so badly. Nobody should be like that in this day and age.
“I’m good at managing my conditions, I keep my home and myself clean, I eat healthy. I don’t have any processed foods.
“But the cost of grocery shopping. I can buy half a bag and it’s £40, what happened? That’s only enough for 2-3 days.”
Danny first had asthma before his lungs continued to deteriorate – causing COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and sleep apnea.
He has to use a CPAP machine at night — a mask that provides constant and steady air pressure so he can breathe while he sleeps.
But constant worry about bailiffs coming in and demanding payment aggravated his health problems and caused him to become suicidal, Danny told MyLondon.
“My breathing can mean I have nowhere to go. I have orders from my GP to dial 999 if I have any problems,” he added.
“I look at the meter every month and it’s scary. And it’ll go up again at the end of the year, I won’t make it, I won’t have anything left at all.
“That’s what I fear most – the bailiffs. I’ve been through it in the past. But it’s enough to trigger my anxiety. I’m scared of the brown envelope, I need to use my meds more.”
Danny has benefited from various initiatives to help people in difficulty – including free prescriptions for medicines, disability rates with British Gas and writing off an energy bill when he couldn’t pay it.
But Danny is not alone. Around 900,000 people with disabilities live in fuel poverty and millions more are at risk of suffering similar hardships due to significant hikes in energy price caps, activists have warned.
People with disabilities often use more energy, as many need heating for medical reasons or need to charge electrical devices such as mobility aids.
Marie Curie’s policy and public affairs manager, Mark Jackson, told MyLondon: “Rapidly rising energy costs will mean many more terminally ill people and their carers will have to choose between heating and eating.
“People with long-term illnesses or disabilities already account for 40% of all energy-poor households, and the average terminally ill person’s energy bill doubles after their diagnosis as they spend more time at home and have to heat to higher temperatures.
“Many will also have medical devices or mobility aids at home, which will add to their bills.
“Increases in the cost of living are hitting the terminally ill hard – both the UK Government and energy companies must do much more to support the thousands of families with a loved one dying with these rising costs.
“Marie Curie has called for all terminally ill people to automatically have access to financial support for energy bills through winter fuel payments and warm home rebates, not just for the over 65s.
“If we are to prevent and prevent thousands more people from falling below the poverty line at the end of their lives, we simply cannot delay these urgent actions any longer,” they added.
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https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/man-suicidal-over-rising-bills-26753493 Man 'suicidal' over soaring bills as 'half a grocery bag' can cost £40