An elderly pensioner has said she “nearly dropped dead” after she received an electricity bill for just under €1,000.
Fuel bills across Ireland have soared amid an international surge in energy prices but for 79-year-old Ellen seeing the sum of €969.98 typed out in black and bold was still a huge shock to her.
“I’m nearly 80 years old - I’m 80 years in November - and I nearly dropped dead when I got that bill,” Ellen, who lives on Dublin’s Navan Road, told Moncrieff.
“I always paid my bills when I get my pension - 20 or 30 off the gas or electric every week. Never miss [it] - the gas company or the eclectic company can see that.
“I didn’t realise that they haven’t read my meter for over a year. So this was an estimated bill I got.”
Ellen plans to ring up the company who provide her electricity and hopes that she can persuade them to let her pay them in instalments:
“I have to talk to them,” she continued.
“I didn’t get around to talking to them yet - I’ll have to talk to them about it to arrange payment because the most I could pay is €50 a week.”
And it isn’t just electricity she feels has soared in price recently:
“I’ve never in all my life seen anything like the cost of living. Bread used to be 69 [cents], now it’s gone up to 79 [cents],” she added.
“Marmalade and jams, they used to be 60 cents and then they’re going up to €1.25! That’s what we’re dealing with.”
The current cost of living crisis has been compared to the one in the 1970s when inflation soared and family budgets were squeezed. But Ellen is blunt - the one in the 2020s is worse:
“Things were bad then but they’re helluva a lot worse now I can tell you!” she said.
“Well, I wish to God that they’d stop raising the cost of living so high because I’m on my own, okay.
“But where do you leave children? With husbands and wives out working, paying mortgages and trying to feed a family of three even? That’d be five of them in the family… I feel very, very sorry for the younger people trying to earn a living and pay a mortgage.
“They say because of the war in Ukraine but it couldn’t be that much we’re not that short of food.”
Last month Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the Government can only “try and ease the pain” of the cost of living crisis.
However, the cabinet is due to meet on Wednesday and sign off on additional measures to help people; cutting VAT on energy prices is being considered, as is the payment of a €99 lump sum to people on the fuel allowance.
Main image: Ellen of the Navan Road.