families struggle to pay France’s growing energy bill – .

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PARIS, October 26 (Reuters) – Jacques Kadio has already cut his grocery bill, refueled his car less and turned off the heat when his children are at school, but soaring electricity costs are still crushing them the household budget to the point of disappearing broke.

The father of five, who has been unemployed since quitting his job as a security guard a month ago after switching back to an IT technician, now faces nearly three monthly electricity bills. times higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a social worker. which helps him to manage the paperwork.

“We can’t keep doing this,” Kadio said. “We are doing what we can to manage these bills, but as they go up it becomes catastrophic. “

Wholesale nL8N2QM1BY energy prices in Europe rose in part due to low gas inventories and increased demand after the lockdown, prompting governments to try to protect businesses and consumers from a gloomy winter.

Last Thursday, French Prime Minister Jean Castex nL1N2RH2C7 announced that low-income households would receive 100 euros ($ 116) from the government to help alleviate rising costs, having already extended an energy subsidy to more households .

Leslie Lemee, a social worker at SOLIHA – the housing network that helps Kadios pay their bills – said the family received a government grant, although this only covers a fraction of the costs.

One in four French people said they had trouble paying their gas or electricity bills this year, according to a survey by the country’s national energy ombudsman, against less than a fifth in 2020.

The survey found that 20% of households had endured a cold house for at least 24 hours, up from just 14% last year.

“In France, people are very, very careful with their heating,” said Frédérique Fériaud, director of the national mediator.

She added that many people lived in poorly insulated homes, racking up heating costs even as their rooms remained cold.

The Kadios’ social worker said their situation was among several exacerbated by factors such as poor insulation and more time spent at home due to blockages, remote working and job losses.

“I don’t know what to do anymore,” Kadio said. “Today, I am a little overwhelmed.

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Reporting by Sarah Morland and Noémie Olive in Paris; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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