Coalition reacts to Energy Price Guarantee announcement

Despite the UK Government’s Energy Price Guarantee, the End Fuel Poverty Coalition estimates that 7m households across the UK will be in fuel poverty this winter.

A spokesperson from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition commented:

While many households will benefit from the price cap freeze, the Prime Minister offered no detail of any additional support for the millions of households who will be left behind in fuel poverty this winter.

Many of these people are struggling already and include those who are elderly, disabled or with pre-existing health conditions. Without more support to keep them warm this winter, the pressures on the NHS and social care system will increase.

And without further investment in measures such as energy efficiency for those homes worst affected by fuel poverty and renewables, the plans will just be an expensive sticking plaster.

Adam Scorer, chief executive of fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA) said:

The UK government’s plan to freeze energy bills means the average household will pay around £2,500 a year, instead of the predicted £3,549 average a year. This will bring huge relief. It means more than 24 million households will face lower bills this winter. And it could help stop over 2 million households from being plunged into fuel poverty.

However, despite the good news, many households in serious fuel poverty need more than reassurance about future prices, they need rescuing from current prices.

Just over 12 months ago the average annual bill was just £1,271. Even with this price freeze the average bill has doubled in a year. Last year 4.5 million UK households were fuel poor, now we predict that it will be 6.7 million – far better than the 8.9 million without support, but still more needs to be done. In particular, measures need to work for households in Northern Ireland who are outside the GB energy market and its price cap.

The new Government must not forget that the most vulnerable need targeted support. Those who use more energy in their homes because of medical conditions, those who are elderly and those on very low incomes need extra help so they don’t have to ration their usage, putting their physical and mental health at risk. Those on prepayment meters must not be forgotten either. They would benefit from a lower rate or additional relief from huge standing charges.

We hope too, that longer term the Prime Minister will focus on greater investment in energy efficiency. It not only saves consumers money and makes homes warm and safe places to live, it creates jobs, provides an economic return to the Treasury and reduces strain and costs for our stretched health services.

Jess Ralston from ECIU commented:

The PM’s plan delivers on emergency bill help this winter, but lacks any kind of plan for dealing with the root cause that expensive gas and poor quality homes are costing bill and tax payers billions.

Every pound spent by Treasury on insulation this winter could pay back by the next election by cutting the £150bn energy price freeze bill landing on the exchequer. It’s simple, using less gas improves our security and lowers our bills.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation told the BBC that there will still be an  £800 gap between the overall rise in the cost of living and the support package that the poorest families were receiving. JRF chief analyst Peter Matejic said:

The government’s energy price freeze headed off a stratospheric predicted price increase from October, but struggling households remain extremely worried about how they are supposed to fill this gap.

This shows Liz Truss’s job isn’t done. When she unveils further plans as part of her fiscal statement she must remember the many low income families suffering in hardship.

Warm This Winter campaign members, The Wildlife Trusts tweeted their opposition to the Government’s plans to include fracking as part of the plans:

More reaction from members of the Coalition to follow.