VULNERABLE Bolton residents will be at increased risk of hypothermia because of rising energy prices, an expert has claimed.

The country’s largest energy supplier British Gas has announced a six per cent hike in the price of both gas and electricity, adding £80-a-year to the average fuel bill.

The company has called the rise — which is due to come into effect on November 16 — “unwelcome” but claims 85 per cent of fuel bill costs are outside its control.

Rival company SSE is also increasing its prices by an average of nine per cent while npower will increase the price of gas by an average of 8.8 per cent and electricity by 9.1 per cent from November 26.

Barry Lyon, chairman of Bolton Citizens Advice Bureau, said some people are doing without heating because they can no longer afford it.

He said: “We have had people coming in saying they don’t put the fire or the central heating on because they can’t afford it and that increases the risk of hypothermia, especially in older people.”

Bolton CAB is running energy advice week from Monday, October 22 to Saturday, October 27 as part of a national campaign to help people cut their fuel bills and get the financial support they are entitled to.

An event will be taking place at ASDA in Moss Bank Way, Astley Bridge, on Wednesday, October 24, from 10am to 2pm where CAB staff will be on hand to offer advice.

British Gas put gas and electricity prices up by 18 per cent and 16 per cent respectively in August, 2011, blaming higher wholesale costs.

The firm blamed rises on the depletion of North Sea gas supplies, meaning it has to buy from a “competitive global marketplace”, saying its current five per cent profit margin is similar to last year but lower than the year before, and that it cannot make investments in jobs and future energy sources if its profits are lower.

Mr Lyon said: “I know they’ve got costs to cover but in these difficult times this is just another problem people are now having to face.

“It would be good if they could hold off on some of those profits while people are struggling.”

Dad-of-five Steve Greenhalgh, of Great Lever, a 44-year-old car salesman and former soldier, says he is working more hours to cover his bills.

“I’m having to work 60 hours a week now just to keep up, it’s just ridiculous.

“You’re supposed to work to live, not live to work.

“Everything is going up, food, tax — everything.”