A MUM has revealed she can only afford to eat ONE meal each day and heat her home four days a week after her energy bill soared.
Kelly Thomson, 44, said she is "so scared" and cries every night over fears her son, 14, and daughter, 11, will face a bone-chilling winter.
The single mum can only afford to heat her home for four days in the winter and five in the summer before the money in her pre-payed electric and gas metres runs out.
When that happens, the family, from Berkshire, has to go without heating, hot water and electricity.
In a further bid to cut down, Kelly only eats one meal a day.
She gives her kids breakfast and they get free school meals.
Households could see their energy bills rocket to an eye-watering £2,800 a year - an £830 increase from £1,971 on average.
Ofgem boss Jonathan Brearley has told the the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee that it is expecting an energy price cap in October “in the region of £2,800”.
Struggling mum Kelly said: "I'm so so scared and worried in case this happens. I couldn't take any more rises in costs. I just can't do it.
"I wouldn't survive the winter without gas or power for over half of every week. I'm too skinny already.
"The doctor said I'm underweight and he put it down to stress and lack of food.
"I cry every night and I'm constantly worried about the kids.
"This is having such a terrible impact on my mental and physical health.
"If I didn't have my children and I wasn't so strong I wouldn't be here.
"I feel so trapped. I just want to pick up a bag and leave this house and never look back - I can't live like this anymore. I just feel so ill.
"I'm so tired, just shattered, and too scared to even put the telly on.
"Mental health services are at full capacity already."
I feel so trapped. I just want to pick up a bag and leave this house and never look back - I can't live like this anymore. I just feel so ill.Kelly
Kelly - who had to stop working when she got long Covid in January 2020 - manages a budget of £36 Universal Credit a week, plus £35 child benefit.
She pops £15 a week into each of her gas and electricity pay-as-you-go meters and spends the remaining £40 on a weekly Lidl shop - snapping up yellow-label items.
Her kids snuggle up under duvets and blankets and wear four jumpers and two pairs of trousers each.
And Kelly says she has been forced to sell some their belongings - including Christmas and birthday presents - to get by.
"We've got nothing left," she added.
"The struggle is real already, but by October it's going to be ten million times worse."
The price cap already went up to £1,971 on April 1 from £1,277 - adding £700 a year to bills for 22million customers.
A new increase would see bills soar by a further £830 when the new price cap comes into effect from October.
Last week, 72-year-old Laura March told how she’s now skipping meals and surviving off cheese or peanut butter sandwiches for dinner due to the dramatic rise in the cost of living.
And a teenager on Panorama's Surviving The Cost Of Living Crisis episode has admitted she had forfeited eating to feed her siblings.
Meanwhile, a Cabinet Minister sparked fury for suggesting people can simply stop buying branded food to beat the cost of living squeeze.
Food prices have soared to their highest in 10 years amid surging inflation, alarming new stats show.
Global gas price spikes have pushed up fertiliser costs, which have rolled over to staple groceries like chicken and fresh veg.
WHAT HELP IS OUT THERE?
Welfare assistance scheme
Brits can apply for much-needed cash and vouchers for food, furniture, bills and more via the welfare assistance scheme - and you can get up to £1,000 in free cash.
It's something of a postcode lottery when it comes to what help they can get though as some councils are not as generous in offering help.
And others don't even have a scheme in place at all.
Council tax reduction
Many people paying council tax may not be aware that they can get their bill reduced.
Reductions are available for those on low-incomes, people claiming certain benefits, those caring for others as well as other circumstances.
The amount your bill is reduced by can range from 25% off to 100% which would mean you pay nothing at all for this bill.
You should get in touch with your local authority to apply for a discount.
Energy bill rebate
Later on in the year, households will get £200 off their energy bills.
The discount is applied automatically, but not until October.
But the money does have to be paid back - in the form of £40 added to annual bills over five years from next year.
This month though, plenty of households have already started seeing £150 land in their bank accounts thanks to the Council tax rebate that was part of the same support scheme.
Energy bill grants
If you can't wait until October to get the rebate help, then it might be worth contacting your supplier to access help from one of its grants.
British Gas customers for example, can apply for a £750 grant to help with their energy bills.
But the amount can vary according to your supplier and your circumstances.
Discretionary housing payment
If you’re struggling to pay rent, you could apply for a discretionary housing payment.
It's given out on case by case basis though and how much you could get, depends on your personal circumstances.
You need to apply to your local council for the help.