Fears over fuel poverty have been raised after a report found nearly 2,000 pensioners in Hyndburn are not claiming benefits they are entitled to.
Charity Independent Age carried out the report which found 1,900 pensioners in the borough were failing to claim Pension Credit, a benefit intended to top-up pensions of the poorest to £145.40 a week.
In the face of the 'Big Six' energy companies announcing price rises averaging more than nine percent, the figures have been met with widespread concern.
Victoria Richards, Head of Advice and Support at Independent Age, said: “With rising prices a huge source of anxiety to many pensioners, Pension Credit really can make all the difference to those in later life.”
Helen Bishop, deputy manager at Maundy Relief based in Accrington, said the they were 'terrible'.
She said: “It's terrible to hear that many pensioners aren't getting the right benefits, especially when energy prices are rising.
“We are having people coming in every day that are struggling to pay. It honestly is between eating and heating.
“I deal with up to 10 food parcels a day - that allows people to use their money to pay for gas and electric.”
The charity's figures are based on national survey data.
Council leader Miles Parkinson said the increase in prices was a worry for everyone in Hyndburn as it is a low income area.
He said: “The rise hits everyone in Hyndburn, as bills outstrip inflation and hit people already struggling.
“What we can do is advise people to join PeoplesPower where they can collectively negotiate. The problem is however that the big six dictate the prices, so there does not seem to be much choice.”
But energy bosses said help is available.
A spokesman for Energy UK, which is the trade association for the energy industry, said: “No one should be afraid to put the heating on this winter.
“There is a lot of help out there and energy companies want to ensure people who need it most get assistance.
“There are a number of schemes helping consumers make homes more energy efficient, cut usage and keep warm.”