Single mum forced to light house with candles as fuel bill soars to £760 a month

Nicola Elson, 32, from Hamilton, South Lankashire, uses candles to light her home and avoids using her cooker and washing machine to cut energy costs

Nicola Elson, 32, has to shell out up to £760 a month for electricity
Nicola Elson, 32, has to shell out up to £760 a month for electricity

A single mum has been forced to light her home with candles after her energy bills soared to £760 a month.

Nicola Elson, 32, struggles to pay the astronomical electricity bill at her two-bedroom flat in Hamilton, south Lankashire.

The school cleaner spends most of her salary to power the meter at the property where she has lived for a year.

Her two children often have to stay elsewhere when she is forced to sit with lit candles and the heating turned off in a desperate attempt to cut costs.

Nicola told Glasgow Live: “There have been times when I’ve had to choose between food or electricity, or I’ve had to borrow from friends and family to get things I don’t have. had more, or even to put the electricity.







Nicola made drastic cuts
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Katielee Arrowsmith SWNS)







She avoids using lights by using candles at night
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“My kids’ grandparents have to pay for my kids’ shoes, coats, bags, lunches, sometimes clothes because everything I have goes on my meter.”

The mum added: “If I get something extra then I have to struggle somewhere else, ie the meter, the internet bill or not being able to watch TV for an hour in the morning before school. “

Nicola claims she initially spent around £140 a week on her Pay As You Go meter when she moved into the flat in March 2021.

When prices rose again, she called her supplier Scottish Power to ask why.

She claims she was told it was due to her appliances, but at the time she only had a fridge-freezer, TV, kettle and cooker.







Nicola has been living in Hamilton’s apartment for a year
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Nicola also heats her home electrically with plug-in storage heaters.

The mother brought in an electrician who replaced her meter, but nothing changed and it affected her relationship with her family.

Nicola said: “I have five children, but three of them live with their father.

“They come to stay with me, but it’s been less because of this problem.

“My two youngest have to be with their dad and siblings because I can’t afford to have the heating or the lights on at night.”







The mother even avoids cooking hot meals
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While receiving help from Universal Credit, Nicola buys £100 worth of food when she pays her rent.

She hopes the one-time shopping bill will feed her and her daughters Tillie, four, and Eilidh, three, for the month.

The housekeeper also makes sure that her meals contain potatoes or fries so that her daughters can stay full.

She also relies on the only hot meal her children receive at the crèche.

Nicola finds it difficult to buy anything more after paying for her electricity, and sometimes asks her friends and family to help her with her other bills or her food.







Her electric bill is hundreds more than her monthly rent
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“Sometimes I don’t eat breakfast or lunch so the girls can have it,” she said.

“I had to give up so many things, I gave up on my other kids staying over the weekend, I had to give up family outings.

“I can’t do nice things with them or give them what a mother should be, because all my time is spent calling ScottishPower and all my money goes on my meter.

“I sit with lit candles at night and without heating.

“I do a morning shift that I had to take to help pay for my electricity in addition to my evening shift.”







Nicola’s children often have to stay elsewhere
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Nicola has been on medication for anxiety and depression since January which she says is due to having to say goodbye to her children at the end of the day as they cannot sleep at her house.

“I constantly worry about how I’m going to put money on the meter, put food on the table, or even get my kids to stay,” she said.

“Everything I earn goes into the meter. I get paid £860 for my job as a cleaner at two schools.”

She pays the same for electricity in summer and winter, and the figure has never increased over time to £190 a week, which is more than her rent of £475 a month.

She turns off everything at the outlets and asks her friends and family to help her with the laundry because she doesn’t use her washing machine or dryer.







The majority of Nicola’s salary is spent on energy bills
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The mum-of-five said: “I use my cooker maybe four times a month on Saturdays to batch cook everything to put in the microwave on weekdays.

“I’m at their grandparents’ for dinner three times a week and it’s also where I do most of my laundry, bath my kids and bring them home when it’s bedtime.

“I currently have a winter duvet on my bed and three blankets, and my daughters have two blankets and a duvet on their beds.”

In May, Nicola was offered a £40 recharge code to help with her electricity needs, which she thought she would not have to pay back.

She called ScottishPower for a new code every two days until December, when she was told they could not supply any more as they ‘don’t like putting our customers in debt’.







She also asks her friends and family to help her wash to avoid using the washing machine at home.
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She then realized she had to pay back the top-ups, and since then her meter has oscillated between telling her she was £2,000 in debt and £300 in credit.

She doesn’t know if her rate has since been adjusted to help her gradually pay off her debt.

Desperate, Nicola wants to share her experience to encourage the electricity companies to do something to help families like hers.

She said: “It’s unfair and upsetting. I just want things to change so companies can’t do this to people.”







She called on the energy policeman for help
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Katielee Arrowsmith SWNS)

A spokesperson for ScottishPower said: “We have actively investigated the issues raised by Ms Elson, which are complex and involve a number of factors including whether the meter she had installed is the best for her type of property. and its energy consumption, the significant level of top-ups provided to the account – which must be refunded – and resolve outstanding billing issues.

“Ms Elson has now opted to pursue the matter with the Energy Ombudsman rather than the Additional Aid Unit.

“Therefore, we will continue to do what we can to support the Ombudsman’s investigation, including arranging a client liaison visit, but we will only be able to reach a resolution once the Ombudsman’s due process is completed. .”

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