Norfolk pensioners receive grant towards cost of heating oil.
The couple’s rented home of 46 years has no mains gas, meaning they are at the mercy of rising oil prices. Mr Spinks, 81, remembers paying £130 for the first 500 lt delivery four years ago when the heater was installed. This time the bill was £347 - an increase of 167 per cent.
They budget on a combined pension of £240 a week. Mr Spinks had hoped that now he is over 80, they would receive a £400 Winter Fuel Payment this year but the amount has been slashed by £100.
“You have got to watch your money all the time to save enough for your oil. We manage and we eat, but we don’t buy luxuries - only what we need,” said Mrs Spinks, 76. “When it gets cold I stick a cardigan on and if it’s too cold, we go to bed.”
Each month the couple set aside the meagre amount left, after paying all other vital bills, towards oil but Mrs Spinks said it took a long time to save enough.
Theirs is just one of more than 60,000 households in fuel poverty - spending more than 10 per cent of their income on keeping warm - in Norfolk alone.
Charities fear more and more will fall into the poverty trap as bills rise and incomes fall.
Many in rural areas - like the Spinks - depend on heating oil, meaning they must buy in bulk. Prices rose by 44 per cent last winter.