COMMUNITY groups have warned rising energy bills will ‘push more people into crisis’.

The Government’s price cap, which limits the amounts suppliers can charge, is already at a record £1,277.

Analysts believe this could go up to £1,995 on April 1, when the price cap is due for a revision next month.

The rises have been attributed to a major spike in global gas prices.

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A spokesperson for Oxford Mutual Aid (OMA) said increases in bills will ‘push more people into crisis’.

The spokesperson said: “At OMA, we are deeply concerned about the reported rise in energy prices.

“Thousands of people in Oxford are already unable to meet the basic costs of keeping safe and warm.

“2021 has been a year of crisis for our city – in the last year alone, OMA responded to nearly 3,500 requests for an emergency food parcel, meaning that our volunteers delivered food to 19,761 people in crisis on the same day they requested help.

“Further increases in energy bills and the costs of living can only push more people into crisis.

“Despite fuel costs rising by over 40 per cent in the same period, there has not been an increase in the statutory Warm Home Discount in almost a decade.

“Many people turn to food banks and community groups when they can’t make ends meet, however food aid organisations like ourselves are not a solution to poverty, and systemic change is needed to keep our communities safe.”

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Sue Holden, secretary of Barton Community Association, said the group will do everything in its power to help people facing rising energy bills.

She said: “I feel dreadfully sorry for people working on low incomes and being faced with ever increasing costs.

“We help people fine-tune their budgets and to see what can be pulled back – we will do everything in our power to help people in those circumstances.

“People don’t know which way to turn, and we’ll signpost them to where they need to go.”

Dr Saman Jamshidifard, a lecturer at Oxford Brookes Business School and trustee at West Oxford Community Association, said: “Larders are a place in these difficult circumstances, as a way of reducing supermarket bills.

“Two thirds of families who use larders are energy poor, when it comes to heating and electricity.

“That leads to problems such as condensation and mould.”

Christine O’Hare, chief officer at Citizens Advice Oxford, added: “It’s so often those with the least who bear the brunt of these crises.

“With the fuel price hike, we are seeing working families in Oxford having to choose between food or heating, and older people, coping with health issues, who are struggling to heat their homes as the temperatures fall.”

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