Matthew Wright 7am - 10am
Pensioners in Chancellor’s constituency hiding in Wetherspoons to avoid heating homes
3 October 2022, 08:39 | Updated: 3 October 2022, 09:04
Pensioners in the Chancellor’s constituency have told LBC they’re spending the day in Wetherspoons to avoid putting the heating and lights on at home.
Listen to this article
LBC spoke to 79-year-old Kenny and Barry in The George pub in Staines-Upon-Thames, who said the cost of living crisis was “crippling” them like they’ve never known.
When asked by LBC's Nick Ferrari about his views on the two men's situation, Kwasi Kwarteng blamed Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine.
Kenny, who is a veteran, said “My electricity bill has gone up by £700. I’m going to have to put some proximity lights up so they go off when you leave the room. I’m almost 80 years of age, and the cost of living is really crippling me.”
He told LBC that he likes going to Wetherspoons because it means he isn’t using energy at home. When asked what it would be like if he was at home, he said “I’d be bored - and in six months I’d be dead.”
His friend Barry, who works part time for a butchers to make ends meet, said even if he was at home “there’d be no heating on”.
He told LBC his gas and electricity bill has come in at £1,864. When asked if he can afford to pay it, he said “no - who can?”
He said: “I’ve now put sensor lights up rather than having to turn light switches on, so as soon as you walk in a room they come on, they’re on for about 2 and a half minutes, and then they turn off.”
When asked if he’ll keep the heating off through the winter, Barry said “I’ve just told my son to put an extra jumper on.”
He said he goes to Wetherspoons to avoid sitting in a cold house and “to meet people and have a conversation - because this is the cheapest place you can go for a beer. But now I’m on limited amount I can have. I used to like going to the pub but I can’t really afford it now, it’s at least £4 a pint.”
They said Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, who is the Conservative MP for Spelthorne, “has no idea”.
When asked about their local MP, they said “I don’t think he’s been here for about three years. You never see him. I suppose there’s been the pandemic, but I don’t think he’s been here for a long time.”
Barry, who said he’s never had to worry like this before, said: “To me it seems people earning from £50k - £100k a year are going to earn a fortune. People like me, and us, we’re not going to get anything.”
Mr Kwarteng told LBC: "So that was the whole point of the energy intervention, I mean if we look at what happened internationally - Putin's war in Ukraine - energy prices have gone up across Europe, through the roof.
"And what the prime minister announced within 48 hours of becoming Prime Minister was an energy intervention that will sharply reduce the exposure. Now I completely understand people's concerns, but we are intervening and we have intervened - and this is a problem everyone across Europe is facing."
In Sunbury, which is also in the Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng's constituency, LBC visited a food bank which has intervened to help almost 100 families pay their energy bills.
The community centre at St Saviours Church has seen "hard-working people like nurses, managers and shop workers" coming to them for help as the cost of living crisis intensifies.
Volunteer Jenny Tucker has been working with the families that use the community centre to help them pay their energy bills.
She told LBC "It's not just people in social care who are on benefits coming for help - in fact I hate to say it but sometimes they're actually better off. There's a lot of things you can claim.
"If you have your own home you're doing it on your own. We've seen nurses, managers, a lot of shop workers - people say I never thought I’d ever go to a food bank. They're working, they're working full time, they have a house, but they can't afford everything now."
Donna Mason, who runs the food bank, told LBC some families can't afford to wash their children's school uniforms.
She said: "Families are struggling, they're having to make a choice between - do you do your kids washing on a Sunday so they have clean school uniform, or do you go and do your shopping? Or do you go and put gas and electric on?"
They're relying on cash donations to help the hard-pressed families pay their gas and electricity - despite facing their own eye-watering costs of up to £35,000 to heat and light the centre this winter.
Guy Trevithick, who helps manage St Saviours, told LBC their bills will be as much as six times higher. He said: "We'll ask people to wear an extra sweater. We'll have to use the heating less and think about when it's used."