A disabled woman has said she knows she’s ‘putting her life on the line’ by cancelling her energy payments after being hit by crippling bills.

Julie Hawkins, who relies on an electric feeding machine to stay alive, says she’s been left penniless after ScottishPower cleared out her bank account on four occasions over an ongoing cash wrangle.

After the Glasgow Times exclusively revealed her plight, she decided to take a stand and halt her monthly direct debit - and is now waiting to be disconnected.

The 61-year-old, who suffers from epilepsy and Barrett's disease, is unable to eat solids and relies on the piece of lifeline equipment to pump nutrients into her body.

Julie said: “I can’t afford to pay the bills so the only option I had left was to stop my direct debit.

“I visited my building society this week and have cancelled the next payment, which is due on August 2.

“I’m unable to eat solids and need to charge up my machine daily to keep me alive, while I also need to keep a sensor plugged in to alert a nurse if I have a seizure.

“I realise that I could end up seriously ill or dead, but I'm out of options.

“I’m basically putting my own life on the line to send a message to these greedy ScottishPower bosses who are benefiting from the misery of people like me. 

“I can’t survive without any money and the bills have been worrying me sick. It’s making my health worse, and I just decided enough was enough.

“If they disconnect me now, then that’s up to them - whatever the consequences, that is on their conscience. I have to take a stand."

Glasgow Times:

READ MORE: Lanarkshire woman 'scared to charge feeding machine due to ScottishPower energy costs'

Julie claims the energy giant grabbed her Personal Independence Payment (PIP) for the last four months, meaning she is unable to use her kettle, limits herself to one hour of television per day and can't turn on her heating because she’s terrified of the running costs.

However, ScottishPower insists her bills are “accurate” and based on her usage.

Julie said: “Despite cancelling my payments, I’m still scared to boil a kettle and continue to limit myself to 60 minutes of television. I’m wary of running up and extra costs and more charges, but I just can’t afford to pay the tariffs. 

“I’ve been left with no money in my bank account. I just can’t afford the cost of the energy I need just to survive - I’m stuck in a desperate situation.

“I’m a determined person and I’m not going to back down. I know I’m taking a big chance with my health, but I’ve got to do something drastic to make ScottishPower realise just how bad this is."

Julie says she switched to ScottishPower after one of the firm's salesmen at a stand in a Glasgow shopping centre offered her a deal fixed at £72 a month - but claims her direct debit quickly shot up to £290 when the energy cap was raised.

She then received a letter from the company telling her she is now £1100 in arrears - and was stunned when her disability benefit was taken from her bank account to settle some of the debt.

Her partner Stevie Douglas, from Glasgow, has also tried to contact ScottishPower on her behalf.

Glasgow Times:

She said: “I thought I’d managed to secure a good deal, but it soon became clear the cost was much higher than what I was told I had signed up to.

“The PIP money I receive is not enough to cover the rising cost of living. I'm already living on borrowed time and the stress and worry all of this is causing my health to deteriorate even further.

“How do you pay a bill with money you just don't have?"

Now, after the Glasgow Times stepped in, ScottishPower is giving her a £570 payment through their hardship fund to help with some of the bill.

Julie, from Carstairs in South Lanarkshire, added: “It’s something, but it is a drop in the ocean to such a massive company.

“It doesn’t change the fact that I still can’t make the monthly repayments. I’ve no intention of reinstating my direct debit but I'm very grateful to the Glasgow Times for its help with this."

READ MORE: Scottish Government's £3bn cost of living support 'is only £490m', according to Holyrood research

Experts predict that electricity and gas will rise again in October when the energy cap is next adjusted as supplies from Russia continue to be strangled, with another price hike expected to come at the beginning of 2023 that could see the average household's monthly bill rocket to £500.

The cap, which is set quarterly by the energy industry regulator Ofgem, is currently at an unprecedented level.

Figures show that ScottishPower chief executive Keith Anderson was paid an eye-watering £1.15m salary last year and £140,000 pension benefit.

A spokesman for the energy giant said: “Mrs Hawkins’ monthly payment was calculated accurately based on meter reading information she shared with us and reflected actual energy use at the property.

“We’ve liaised with Citizens Advice regarding her case and our customer service team has spoken to her about the information and support available to help her.

“We regret the circumstances she faces and urge her to apply for the help available to her. 

“We have set up the ScottishPower Hardship Fund, which is available all-year round to customers who currently receive, or recently received, their household energy supply from ScottishPower and are in arrears due to financial hardship.”