"Phones are ringing off the hook" as people around Suffolk seek help through the cost-of-living crisis.

Yesterday saw the biggest jump in domestic energy bills in living memory, as a 54% increase to Ofgem’s price cap hit families' pockets.

On Thursday, energy firms' websites had crashed as customers logged on to submit last-minute meter readings before the price cap rose.

Kimberly Roberts, operations manager at Citizens Advice at Mid Suffolk, said the centre had received an average of 26 calls a day last year.

In November, when the Universal Credit uplift was cut, the number of calls started to increase.

The average has risen to 51 in the first three months of 2022 and on one day the centre took 110 calls, she said.

"The phones are ringing off the hook now," Ms Roberts said.

Simon Clifton, chief officer at Citizens Advice Mid Suffolk, said: “We are breaking unwelcome records with more people than ever phoning us for help. The cost of living is having a huge impact.

"We are seeing people who would never have needed a food parcel before seeking a referral, including people in work."

Similarly, Suffolk Coastal Debt Centre has seen all of its appointments filled in recent months.

And there are concerns about the effects the crisis is having on people's mental health.

Rev Nic Stuchfield, chairman of Suffolk Coastal Debt Centre, said he was working with an elderly woman who was so scared by the situation she was not eating or putting the heating on.

He said: "She is not in extreme poverty, but she is so terrified by the prospect of poverty that she's neither eating nor heating.

"This is someone who is not in desperate need, but she is so traumatised by what is going on that she may well get into all sorts of physical problems."

A survey of Suffolk business leaders also found that for 94% of bosses, rising prices were their main concern for their firm.

Paul Simon, head of public affairs and strategic communications at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “The accumulated pressures borne by the county’s business owners and management teams, firstly through the Covid-19 pandemic and now through spiralling inflation, worries about increased taxes and a sense in which policymakers just assume they can take anything thrown at them, has inevitably had an impact on the mental health and wellbeing of many.

"Suffolk Chamber staff are more aware of this than most as we meet with and talk to thousands of business people each year."

Mr Simon said the Chamber of Commerce was working with health leaders in the county to create "toolkits" to support the mental health of bosses and staff.

If you are worried about bills, you can find your local Citizens Advice centre at citizensadvice.org.uk.