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Last Updated: Friday, 4 August 2006, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
Cold comfort
Pensioner Nell McFadden
Pensioners like Nell McFadden have struggled with rising bills

This week's Inside Money looks at the soaring costs of gas and electricity.

Heating your home with gas now costs 70% more than it did in 2003. Electricity prices have gone up nearly 50% over the same period.

The big six suppliers have put their prices up 11 times this year - the latest being British Gas, which put its gas prices up by 12% last month.

The average British Gas bill for a customer who gets both gas and electricity from the company has now topped 1,000 a year.

Supplies from North Sea Oil are dwindling and this means that the UK now has to import gas.

Energy providers complain they have no choice but to increase prices because of the dramatic rises in the cost of wholesale gas.

Many industry experts say that the days of cheap energy are over and that we are going to have to get used to the idea of paying more for these precious resources.

Fuel poverty is on the increase and there are now some three million households affected
But people who live on low and fixed incomes can find the extra costs hard to bear.

According to Energywatch, fuel poverty is on the increase and there are now some three million households affected.

It is estimated that a 10% increase on energy bills tips another 400,000 into fuel poverty.

Nell McFadden, a pensioner from Gourock, near Glasgow, has been dreading the very thought of next winter's fuel bills.

She is 79 and reckons that a sixth of her income goes on heating and lighting her home.

She is careful with money and the amount of energy she uses but is still finding it difficult to make ends meet.

Nell joined presenter Lesley Curwen to find out why she being charged more and what steps we can take to cut bills.

Presenter: Lesley Curwen
Listener: Nell McFadden
Producer: Kirsteen Knight

BBC Radio 4's Inside Money was broadcast on Saturday, 12 August, 2006, at 1204 BST and repeated on Monday, 14 August, 2006, at 1502 BST.



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Pensioner Nell McFadden on the struggle to pay her bills




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