Support pours in for woman who pays £50 per day for electricity

A mother left paying £50 a day for her electricity has thanked well-wishers for their support over Christmas after her story hit the headlines.

By Kirsty Paterson, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 4:01 pm

Mary Quinn was touched to receive lots of messages after the Local Democracy Reporting Service revealed that since a price hike in October she has been paying as much as £50 a day for her electricity, in a two-bedroom council house.

But her family have raised concerns about the state of her health as a result of the situation.

Mary is one of 700 Falkirk Council tenants who live in areas that do not have gas and so have electric heating systems called Thermaflow.

Mary Quinn

These were installed 10 years ago, but in the last three years a series of energy price rises has left tenants facing bills that even those in full-time work struggle to pay.

After our story was published, Falkirk Council arranged for an engineer from Neat Heat to inspect her boiler – and while they didn’t find any faults, they did advise her that it would be cheaper to keep it on 24 hours a day, rather than turning it on and off.

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That has reduced the cost – but she is still paying around £35 every day.

Ending Fuel Poverty campaigners gather outside the Scottish Power HQ in 2020 (Pic: john Devlin)

The council also referred her to a food bank and a debt advisor – while generous readers send her donations and food over the festive season.

One card came addressed simply to ‘Mary Quinn, South Alloa’, enclosing £20 and wishing her well; another got in touch to say she was setting up a JustGiving page; while someone else left a bag of shopping on her doorstep.

But despite the support, Mary is still living in a nightmare, which her family believes is having a major impact on her health.

Her brother, Raymond, said: “She’s going for an MRI this month because they think she has another aneurysm and I think that’s because of this stress for such a long time.

“I see it because I live just a couple of doors away, and I can’t get my head round why this hasn’t been resolved.

“It’s not just affected her – it’s affected us as a family.

“I would say over the last few years I’ve easily spent £10,000 helping her.

“You put electric in and the next day it’s disappeared – it’s just incredible.”

Raymond, who lives in exactly the same style of house, pays £50 a month for his electricity, while his central heating and hot water use sold fuel.

“I’m paying £50 a month for electricity and she’s over £1000 – there’s definitely something really wrong here!

“It’s quite hard to see your little sister in tears, saying ‘what else can I do?’!

“She’s got kids and she’s having to make decisions about whether to eat or pay for electricity.”

Mary is now anxiously waiting for news of a new heating system being installed – when she hopes the nightmare will come to an end.

While many of the Falkirk Council tenants affected living in the Upper Braes villages, Mary’s is just one of two houses in South Alloa that use the controversial heating system.

Falkirk Council has committed to spending £8 million to change the heating systems, including nearly £6 million to install gas in several villages.

Mary’s tiny village will not get gas but she has been told that she will get a new heating system before too long.

However, as yet there is no definite date.

A ScottishPower spokesperson said: “For over two years, we’ve worked closely with Falkirk Council on this issue and we fully support its decision to replace the inefficient heating systems it installed in these properties.”

A spokesperson for Falkirk Council said: "An officer spoke to Ms Quinn on December 21, and after speaking to her regarding her circumstances, a KLSB Food pantry referral was requested via finance and referrals for both debt advice and housing support the same day.

"Everything was done on the 21st.

"We have also been in contact with the tenant re the installation of a new heating system.

" At this time we are unable to provide indicative dates for system replacement but will update Ms Quinn as soon as we possibly can."

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