A REVEREND is calling for government action as his church has seen its energy bills sky-rocket to more than 10 times last year’s rates.

Reverend Andy Fitchet, of Andover Methodist Church on Bridge Street, said that in July 2021 the building’s electricity bill was £70. Last month, it was more than £1,000. He fears that total winter monthly energy rates could reach £4,000 - the same amount as the bill for the whole of last year.

He said: “It made me feel sick. I have no idea how we are going to pay for the winter.”

Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi this week acknowledged that more is needed to be done to help people with the spike in the cost of living ahead of winter.

It comes as the cap on domestic energy charges has been forecast to hit more than £4,200 in January.

However, there is currently no cap at all for churches, charities, or non-profits because energy companies have no charity rate and these organisations instead mostly come under business rates. 

Revd Fitchet is urging the Government and energy companies to consider a social tariff.

He continued: “I think most church and community organisations are facing the same problem as we are. Many of these places have been urged to open in the winter months as ‘warm banks’ to give people a safe warm space to come if they can’t afford to heat their homes. Many churches are, however, completely self-funding and rely on donations.

“It’s a stressful time, emotionally, for many of us as we individually face huge increases and we do as a church too.” 

You can read the full story and reaction in this week's paper. Also in this week's edition:

  • The town council is planning to install new outdoor seating around the town in the coming months.
  • There were 12 drink spiking incidents in Andover over a period of eight months, a freedom of information request (FOI) has revealed.
  • A classic car which was stolen from Andover earlier this year has reportedly been used for banger racing and ‘wrecked’.
  • A fire chief from Hampshire has called for people to not use barbecues during the prolonged dry period for fear of sparking wildfires. 
  • Almost a dozen police officers have faced dismissal from Hampshire Constabulary over the past five years, new figures show.
  • A garden centre in Weyhill has unveiled its brand new extension and refurbished food hall.
  • A developer and manager of retirement communities is set to launch a consultation on plans to build a retirement complex and office building on a former office building in Andover.
  • Something delicious has arrived in Stockbridge as popular Suffolk café and deli business, Honey+Harvey has opened its first Hampshire branch.
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