Battling OAP fights back after energy bill raised to £475 a MONTH

A DISABLED pensioner who took on his fuel company after they trebled his direct debit is advising other vulnerable people to challenge bill hikes.

Retired advice centre manager Edward Hodgson has a rare blood condition which means his body does not produce enough red blood cells, making him feel the cold more.

And he was shocked when his already high energy bill of £134 a month was hiked up by supplier EDF to £475.

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“I’m cold all the time, even in summer,” said Mr Hodgson, who goes for weekly blood transfusions.

“My bungalow is open-plan so it’s a big volume to heat.

“I only use gas for cooking now and then, and have not had the heating on for a while.

“Normally I would need it on even if it was just a bit overcast — that’s the nature of my condition.”

After EDF more than trebled his dual fuel direct debit, the 71-year-old said the new rate “wipes out” his pension.

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The OAP opted against phoning EDF due to the cost of calls — but online research led him to contact them by WhatsApp instead.

Mr Hodgson, who was £779 in arrears, was asked how much he wanted to pay monthly.

“I said £200 and they accepted it straight away,” he said. “Why ask for £400 if you could accept £200?

“I wanted to pay the arrears off in full but they suggested I pay £34 a month over 24 months, as if all of a sudden the company had a social conscience.”

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Now Mr Hodgson — who also worked in welfare rights — is advising people to challenge energy hikes.

“My concern is some are just going to accept it and pay the increased figures which will lead to more poverty because they will be spending less on food and other bills.

“My message is: ‘Don’t just accept what they propose’.

“If you’re struggling with the maths, get a relative or friend to work it out and tell them how much you think you should pay.

“They capitulated as soon as I said how much I wanted to pay.”

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A spokesperson for EDF said: “As Mr Hodgson wasn’t paying enough to cover his ongoing energy usage, he had built up a debt on his account.

“To pay off the debt and to cover his ongoing usage, a new monthly direct debit payment of £478 was suggested.

“When Mr Hodgson paid off the debt on his account in full, we were able to set his direct debit at £200 a month as we anticipate this will be enough to cover his expected ongoing usage.”

The spokesperson added that now EDF was aware of Mr Hodgson’s vulnerabilities, the company had added him to its priority services register.

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