Man ‘suicidal’ over rising bills as ‘half a bag of shopping’ can cost £40


Danny O’Kane, 55, from Hampstead, London, manages long-term conditions sleep apnoea and lung disease, which means he faces extra costs due to his breathing difficulties often keeping him at home

Danny O’Kane is one of many struggling to cope with mounting rises in energy, fuel and food bills

A 55-year-old man has said he finds himself lying in bed at night tossing and turning fretting over money and how he will cope with surging cost of living in London.

Danny O’Kane is one of many struggling to cope with mounting rises in energy, fuel and food bills.

Danny, from Hampstead, London, manages long-term conditions sleep apnoea and lung disease, which means he faces extra costs such as heating due to his breathing difficulties often keeping him at home.

The former school caretaker, who currently receives Universal Credit, had a Gas and electric bill of a fixed £40 per month on a disability rate, but he received a letter that his bill was increasing by 54 per cent.

He says £40 is only enough for a couple of days worth of shopping.

Danny told MyLondon: “It’s dark, scary times at the moment. I’ve never known it so bad. Nobody should be like this in this day and age.

“I’m good at managing my conditions, I keep my home and myself clean, I eat healthy. I don’t have processed foods.

“But the cost of grocery shopping. I can get half a bag of shopping and it’s £40, what’s happened there? It’s enough for only 2-3 days.”







Danny, from Hampstead, London, manages long-term conditions sleep apnoea and lung disease
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Image:

mylondon.news)

Danny first had asthma, before his lungs deteriorated further – causing COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and sleep apnoea.

He has to use a CPAP machine at night – which is a mask to deliver constant and steady air pressure to help him breathe while asleep.

But the constant worry about bailiffs coming round demanding payments exacerbated his health problems and left him feeling suicidal, Danny told MyLondon.

“My breathing can mean I can’t go anywhere. I’m under instructions from my GP I have to dial 999 if I am struggling,” he added.

“I look at the meter every month and it’s scary. And it’s going to go up again at the end of the year I’m not going to be able to manage it, I will have nothing left over at all.

“It’s what I fear the most – the bailiffs. I’ve gone through it in the past. But it’s enough to trigger my anxiety. I’m scared of the brown envelope. It triggers eczema, it triggers asthma, I work myself up , I have to use my medication more.”

Danny has benefited from various initiatives to help those struggling – including free prescriptions for medications, disability rates with British Gas and having an energy bill written off when he was unable to pay it.

But Danny is not alone. Some 900,000 disabled people live in fuel poverty and millions more are at risk of suffering similar hardship as a result of substantial energy price cap hikes, campaigners have warned.

People with disabilities often use more energy, as many need to keep heating on for medical reasons, or use electricity to charge essential equipment such as mobility aids.

Marie Curie Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Mark Jackson told MyLondon: “The rapidly rising cost of energy will see many more terminally ill people and their carers having to choose between heating or eating.

“People with a long-term illness or disability already account for 40% of all fuel poor households, and the average energy price of a terminally ill person doubles after their diagnosis as they spend more time at home and need to heat it to higher temperatures .

“Many will also have medical equipment or mobility devices in the home which drive their bills up even higher.

“Increases in the cost of living are hitting terminally ill people hard – both the UK Government and energy companies must do much more to support the thousands of families with a loved one who is dying with these spiraling costs.

“Marie Curie has called for all terminally ill people to be given automatic access to financial support with the cost of energy, through Winter Fuel Payments and Warm Home Discounts, not just those aged over 65.

“If we are to prevent and prevent thousands more people from falling below the poverty line at the end of their lives, we simply cannot delay taking these urgent measures any longer,” they added.

The Samaritans is available 24/7 if you need to talk. You can contact them for free by calling 116 123, email [email protected] or head to the website to find your nearest branch. You matter.

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www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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