Campaigners have called on Ofgem to scrap future January energy bill changes as a five percent hike in prices hits households at the worst possible time.
The Warm This Winter campaign has called the increase a step too far for ordinary households in the UK, many of whom face the choice between eating and heating.
A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition commented:
“Struggling households are facing an assault from all sides. Energy bills are going up just as winter bites hard, Christmas debts have to be paid off and the ongoing wider cost of living crisis continues into another year.
“Ofgem needs to abolish this January price hike. The cruel impact of a change in bills at this time of year can’t be underestimated.
“We criticised the policy strongly when it was introduced as we feared this would be the result of it – bills going up at the worst time of year.
“Given the way the price cap is structured, it is unlikely we’ll ever see a decrease at this time of year. Changing the price cap three times a year would be enough to pass on any reductions in wholesale prices to consumers and ensure we would not have a change of bills in the middle of winter.”
Warm This Winter spokesperson Fiona Waters added:
“Without additional support, it will be anything but a happy new year for people trapped in Britain’s broken energy system.
“Failure to avert this cold homes crisis will lead to pressure on the NHS, a mental health catastrophe and additional winter deaths caused by living in cold damp homes.”
It follows Warm This Winter’s latest research which revealed 16% of adults (8.3m people) live in cold damp homes, exposed to the health complications that come from living in fuel poverty. Of those, vulnerable households and customers on prepayment meters are more likely to live in dangerous, cold damp homes.
The NHS warns that people with damp and mould in their homes are more likely to have respiratory problems, respiratory infections, allergies or asthma.
Unaffordable energy prices are here to stay and even in winter 2024/25, energy bills are expected to be 60% higher than winter 2020/21.
“People have had enough of these sky high energy bills and today’s price cap places yet another huge burden on families who are stretched to the limit, we need an end to this vicious cycle. The UK Government needs to take much more action to help people stay warm this winter and every winter through increased support for home insulation and cheaper renewable energy,” added Fiona Waters.