A SCOTS mum who cares for her disabled daughter fears her family could be made homeless after being told her utility bills are set to almost triple.
Carolynne Hunter couldn’t believe her eyes when she received an email from Scottish Power last week stating her £300-per-month bills are set to increase to £855-per-month in April.
The 49-year-old, from Clackmannanshire, cares for her 12-year-old daughter Freya who has severe cerebral palsy and is bed-bound.
The youngster relies on around-the-clock care from Carolynne and nurses and has an oxygen machine turned on all day which is plugged into the electricity.
Carolynne, who is also a carer at a charity, now fears that Freya may need to be moved to a hospital as she will struggle to pay over £10,000 for utilities across the year.
The mum-of-four has now called on the Scottish government to help vulnerable families across the country who are in similar situations to her.
Speaking today Carolynne said: “People will be ripped off and become vulnerable because of this.
“I’m going to struggle, I can’t pay almost £900 to half heat my home, I don’t have heating on in certain rooms at the moment.
“I can’t just switch off Freya’s oxygen, she’s given life support 24/7, it is like an intensive care micro-ward in my house.
“Freya cannot regulate her temperature in a cold room so I need the heating on.
“I’ve got staff coming in and out and they need to be heated for, I get no help from the council towards running costs when I’m having to wash Freya’s bedsheets.
“I do not want to rack up thousands of pounds of debt.
“It is a massive worry and a detriment to my family.
“One of the only options I have is for Freya to go to hospital while myself and my older daughter become homeless.
“My view is that maybe the government should take back energy, it is not a luxury, it is a necessity and it shouldn’t be profitable.”
Carolynne also hit out at Scottish Power on social media on Thursday (3 MAR), writing: “When you get the email from @ScottishPower to tell you your monthly DD for elec/gas has increased from £300 to £855!
“Any suggestions welcome that will eliminate the negative impact this will have on wee Freya’s life.”
Her post has received almost 200 retweets and dozens of comments showing support for the Scots mum and her family.
Lynn Williams said: “Jesus Carolynne, how the hell is anyone supposed to afford that.
“All I can think of is British Gas Trust, open to anyone who has power needs regardless of the supplier or so it says on the radio advert.”
Shumela Ahmed said: “Jesus Christ! That’s a full month’s income for some households Carolynne, I don’t understand how they are expecting you to pay that.
“This is actually criminal. @clackscouncil How are you supporting families in this situation?”
Karen Brown said: “I had notification yesterday from @ScottishPower that my electricity is going up over £800 per year and gas by over £1400.
“That’s nearly an extra £200 per month. That is despite being over £600 in credit. #fuelpoverty.”
Lizzie Cernik said: “Have you tried a different provider? I am with Octopus (not sure if they provide in your area).
“My bill is increasing from £100 to £200 but only in winter months – seems less than others.”
Marcello Mega said: “That’s a 185% increase. Only way most people could meet such a gross rise in their essential costs is with help from the government.
“Scot Gov needs to be creative and show the way so that the poor and vulnerable don’t suffer, as they always do.”
Colleen Sullivan said: “I am so sorry to see this.
“There is no excuse for this type of management yet it seems to happen around the world. Good luck to you and your children.”
A spokeswoman for Scottish Power today said: “Supporting customers in vulnerable circumstances is one of our priorities and we’ve been working closely with Ms Hunter over the last four years to support her and her family.
“This includes ensuring she was on the lowest available tariff for her energy use.”
“As she is on the standard variable tariff, we’ve notified her of the changes to her billing due to Ofgem’s price cap increase and her energy usage, which is high due to the size and style of her property.
“We fully appreciate her concerns about the changes in her billing; however, this reflects the volatility in the wholesale energy market and the unprecedented costs of buying energy at this time.”
The Council’s Champion for Carers Cllr Les Sharp, today said: “The increases in fuel costs are affecting everyone, but for some these rising costs have the potential to be devastating.
“Our housing staff have been in touch with Carolynne to assure her that she will not lose her home and our energy advice team has made an appointment with her to offer advice and support on energy usage and tariffs.
“The Health and Social Care Partnership and Children’s Services will continue to collaborate to take any mitigating actions which may support the family.”