Disabled woman knows she's 'putting her life at risk' by canceling energy payments

Disabled woman knows she’s ‘putting her life at risk’ by canceling energy payments

Pictures of Gordon Terris

A disabled woman said she knew she was ‘putting her life on the line’ by canceling her energy payments after being hit with crippling bills.

Julie Hawkins, who relies on a power machine to stay alive, says she was left penniless after ScottishPower emptied her bank account four times during an ongoing money dispute.

After the Glasgow Times exclusively revealed her whereabouts, she decided to take a stand and stop her monthly levy – and is now waiting to be disconnected.

The 61-year-old, who suffers from epilepsy and Barrett’s disease, is unable to eat solid food and relies on vital equipment to pump nutrients through her body.

Julie said: “I can’t afford to pay the bills, so the only option I had left was to stop my direct debit.

“I visited my construction company this week and canceled the next payment, which is due August 2.

“I am unable to eat solid food and need to recharge my machine daily to stay alive, while I also have to keep a sensor plugged in to alert a nurse if I have a seizure.

“I realize that I could end up seriously ill or die, but I have no more options.

“I’m basically putting my own life on the line to send a message to these greedy ScottishPower bosses who profit from the misery of people like me.

“I can’t survive without money and the bills worry me a lot. It’s making my health worse, and I just decided enough was enough.

“If they disconnect me now, it’s up to them – whatever the consequences, it’s on their conscience. I have to take a stand.”

Glasgow hours:

Glasgow hours:

READ MORE: Lanarkshire woman ‘afraid to recharge power machine due to ScottishPower energy costs’

Julie claims the energy giant has seized her Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for the past four months which means she is unable to use her kettle, is limited to one hour of TV a day and can’t turn on her heating because she’s terrified of the running costs.

However, ScottishPower insists its bills are ‘accurate’ and based on usage.

Julie said: “Despite having my payments cancelled, I’m still afraid to boil a kettle and continue to limit myself to 60 minutes of TV. I’m wary of the extra costs and extra charges, but I can’t just can’t afford to pay the fares.

“I have no more money in my bank account. I just can’t afford the cost of the energy I need to survive – I’m stuck in dire straits.

“I am a determined person and I will not back down. I know I’m taking a big risk with my health, but I have to do something drastic for ScottishPower to realize how bad it is.”

Julie says she switched to ScottishPower after one of the company’s salespeople at a stall in a Glasgow shopping center offered her a deal set at £72 a month – but claims her direct debit quickly soared to £290 when the energy cap has been raised.

She then received a letter from the company telling her she was now £1,100 in arrears – and was stunned when her disability benefit was taken from her bank account to settle part of the debt.

His partner Stevie Douglas, from Glasgow, also tried to contact ScottishPower on his behalf.

Glasgow hours:

Glasgow hours:

She said: ‘I thought I had managed to get a good deal, but it soon became apparent that the cost was much higher than what I had been told I had taken out.

“The PIP money I receive is not enough to cover the increased cost of living. I’m already living on borrowed time and the stress and worry that all of this is causing my health to deteriorate even further.

“How do you pay a bill with money you just don’t have?”

Now, after the Glasgow Times intervened, ScottishPower is making a £570 payment to him through its hardship fund to help pay part of the bill.

Julie, from Carstairs in South Lanarkshire, added: ‘It’s something, but it’s a drop in the bucket for such a massive undertaking.

“It doesn’t change the fact that I still can’t make the monthly repayments. I have no intention of reinstating my direct debit, but am very grateful to The Glasgow Times for their assistance in this area.”

READ MORE: The Scottish Government’s £3bn cost-of-living support ‘is just £490m’, Holyrood research finds

Experts predict that electricity and gas will rise again in October when the energy cap is adjusted as supplies from Russia continue to be throttled, with another price rise expected in early 2023 which could see the The average household’s monthly bill climb to £500.

The cap, which is set quarterly by energy regulator Ofgem, is currently at an academic level.

Figures show ScottishPower chief executive Keith Anderson received a whopping £1.15m salary and £140,000 pension benefit last year.

A spokesperson for the energy giant said: ‘Ms Hawkins’ monthly payment was calculated based on meter reading information she shared with us and reflected actual energy consumption at the property. .

“We liaised with Citizens Advice regarding his case and our customer services team spoke to him about the information and support available to help him.

“We regret the circumstances she is facing and urge her to seek the help available to her.

“We have set up the ScottishPower Hardship Fund, which is available all year round to customers who are currently receiving or have recently received their home energy supply from ScottishPower and who are behind due to financial hardship.”

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