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Rising fuel costs is a concern for many
Food or fuel?
By Lee Johnson
The financial squeeze is making things difficult for us all, but for people struggling to pay their utility bills with a limited income, it means having to make difficult choices.
For Kathleen Carter from Stockton, planning is everything. From the amount of meals she needs to cook during the week, to how many loads of washing she will have to do - everything is accounted for. She's just one of the thousands of people in our region suffering from fuel poverty.
"It's a struggle. But with a bit of planning I'm managing at the moment, but I am worried about the winter coming because of the heating bills."
Kathleen is a full-time carer for her husband and one of her sons, and running a house on a small budget means she will have to make some tough choices over the winter period.
"I'm worried, because I can't foresee my bills coming down. I think cheap electricity and gas is a thing of the past, and people have got to accept that. If we have a really hard winter I will either have to cut back on food or I shall have to cut back on heating, which means going to bed earlier, or wearing an extra layer of clothes.
"I've got a single pot of money I can dip from, and if I dip too much for one item the other has to suffer - which one do you choose? People don't realise what it's like having to make a decision on such a basic need as food or fuel."
She also says people like her who are struggling with their fuel bills need more support: "It's not very nice at all. Gas and electric is a basic necessity, and I think the Government should do something to help people who are worried about fuel with bills because if we haven't got the fuel we can't keep warm.
"I've got Christmas coming up, I've got Grandchildren, so are you asking me to make a choice between presents and heating the house - which one would you go for?"
last updated: 25/11/2008 at 15:17