Yorkshire widow, 60, cuddles her dogs to keep warm as she cannot afford to put the heating on

A 60-year-old North Yorkshire widow is having to cuddle with her dogs for warmth as the cost of living surges.

Brenda Leonard, who lives near Northallerton, said she has kept the heating off in her house since last winter after becoming terrified of receiving a bill she could not afford.

She said: “I’ve been cuddling my dogs to keep warm, I’m just terrified of receiving a bill I can’t afford.”

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Ms Leonard, who is originally from Canada, lives alone with her dogs and said she has been using an electric blanket on the lowest settings to stay warm while sleeping.

Her electricity bills, which were originally £70 a month for gas and electricity, have increased massively. This January she received a bill for nearly £273, she managed to negotiate it down to £257.75 but it is still an increase of almost 140 per cent

Ms Leonard has also been trying to save money in other ways, she said: “I only cook once a week and keep the food to cut back on utility expenses, I make just over £11,000 a year and I’m a 60 year old widow.

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“How are we going to live?”

She added: “I have lots of friends but I’d never in a million years ask for money. Some of them have small kids and some have no one to go to.”

Energy bills are set to rise by almost £700 according to Ofgem when the energy price cap is lifted in April.

Many homes in Yorkshire are already being forced to choose between eating food or heating their homes.

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With the cost of living set to rise even further, the government has announced support in the form of a tax rebate to be granted to 80% of households in April as well as money off energy bills from October which will then be paid back over the following years.

Ms Leonard, however, does not believe the plan goes far enough, she said: “How is that supposed to help? It’s not going to work, I already don’t qualify for heating allowance because I’m not old enough and I’m not retired.”

She went on to say: “We’re all going to suffer, everybody’s afraid.”

If you are also concerned about the cost of living, our calculator here might help you figure out how much your bills could increase by.

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