The charity Age Concern has described the planned hike in electricity prices as ‘extremely worrying’ – and is very concerned at the impact it will have on the elderly.

Manx Utilities announced this week that tariffs will rise by more than 50 per cent over the coming months.

Age Concern’s chief executive Maureen Cowbourne said: ‘The recent announcement on rising electric prices is extremely worrying, particularly after the difficult and costly winter which many are still enduring.

‘We’re very concerned on the impact this will have on the older members of our society, who might be isolated, and rely on electric for warm items, lighting or electronic devices for communication or entertainment purposes.’

She said if there is anyone in need of support, Age Concern may be able to help, by calling them on 631740 or emailing them at [email protected].

The island’s Chamber of Commerce has also expressed concern – and says government should have done more to protect the public and businesses from the price hike.

In a statement, it said: ‘Chamber acknowledges the pressure that is being put upon on all energy suppliers due to global factors, and recognises that local residents as well as businesses and their employees will be affected by the latest electricity tariff increases, and the shock in the level of increase in particular.

‘However, the ‘island’s leading business organisation feels that Isle of Man Government should still have done more to protect domestic and business users from the latest hike.’

The Chamber has already criticised elements of this month’s Budget, saying government is using reserves to ‘carry on as normal’ while ignoring some ‘fundamental issues’ facing many in the private sector.

It said: ‘The Budget ignored the likely cumulative impact on the island’s small businesses caused by rising energy costs plus the minimum wage rise above the rate of inflation, which are all under government’s umbrella as a policy maker or investor.

‘Proactive economic modelling is needed to assess cumulative impacts on the local economy (where consumer spending is declining or static and costs are rising disproportionately) is vital in current economic conditions.

‘These impacts don’t affect all sectors, but they are hugely felt in those directly serving the local economy.’

The Chamber also reiterated one of its major concerns about the Budget – the increasing cost of government’s payroll and pensions expenditure which is up £50m since last year. ‘A different approach to its priorities regarding fiscal policy could have allowed government to do more to protect residents, employees and businesses from electricity and gas tariff increases,’ it added.

Manx Utilities announced on Monday that the standard domestic rate tariff will increase from 22 to 28p per unit on April 1 with a further rise on July 1, taking prices to 34p per unit. That means the cost of electricity will be 54.5% higher on July 1 than it is now.

In addition, electricity standing charges, as well as the water and sewerage charges, are going up by 9.8%. Tariffs were capped at 22p over the winter but Manx Utilities says it is no longer sustainable for it to absorb price rises, and is expecting a £50m deficit in the current financial year.