It's no gas for OAPs

Gas bills can often come as a shock – but for many Ipswich pensioners their recent bills have been worse than ever.Many residents of Walton House were left in amazement after receiving hundreds of pounds worth of unexpected gas bills from Powergen this month.

Gas bills can often come as a shock – but for many Ipswich pensioners their recent bills have been worse than ever.

Many residents of Walton House were left in amazement after receiving hundreds of pounds worth of unexpected gas bills from Powergen this month.

The pensioners in the Emlen Street sheltered accommodation were used to paying their gas bills by direct debit every quarter.

Having recently paid in May, they were not expecting another bill until August.

They were therefore left flabbergasted when gas bills started arriving in the post this month – ranging from £40 to more than £100.

Maureen Davis, 77, has lived in Walton House since 1995. Having already paid her February and May bills, she was shocked to receive a bill this month for more than £100.

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She said: "I got a real shock when I opened the letter. They said that because of the new meters, I owed them £118. They then took off what I had already paid, which left £40.

"I could not understand why it was so much – my bills for each quarter are usually only about £30.

"I then got another letter saying the first letter was wrong and I only owed about £11 – but this was only after our scheme manager rang them up.

"I feel really worried. What are supposed to do? We are OAPs. The bank says that with direct debit it will all be paid automatically – and then we get these letters. It is just not right."

Anita Burrows, scheme manager at Walton House, said: "The bills have come as quite a shock for some of the pensioners. They are very upset.

"I have been phoning Powergen almost everyday. They have now said that they will stop the letters."

Although Powergen has apologised for the confusion, they maintain that the pensioners will have to pay the amount stated in the most recent letter.

A spokesman for Powergen explained: "The meters were changed in December, but the details were not updated until June this year. So in June we sent a new bill, replacing the February and May bills.

"Then we took a meter reading in July, which showed that the estimated bills had been a bit too low. So we sent out another new bill.

"People only need to pay attention to the latest bill sent and we will take into account how much has been paid in February and May."

But to make matters worse, the residents will soon be getting yet another bill – the third quarter's instalment will be due in August.

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