Energy bills still set to rise despite Budget

Energy bills are calculated to rise by £285 a year for the coming financial year 2023/24 according to ECIU.

This is despite a Government u-turn on the Energy Price Guarantee which was due to increase bills even further from 1 April.

Meanwhile, calculations show that combined household energy debt could exceed £2.7bn by the end of June 2023.

Other inequalities in the energy market remain with customers paying by standard credit (i.e. paying by cash, cheque or bank transfer) will pay £202 a year more than those on direct debit or pre-payment meter.

Meanwhile some regions, such as Merseyside and North Wales will pay 6.7% more for the electricity than others, such as those in the East Midlands.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition commented:

“Despite government support and falling wholesale prices, every household will pay more for their energy this coming financial year than they do at the moment. That’s due to how the energy pricing system works and expected reduced levels of support from the Government.

“This is coupled with soaring food prices and transport costs and no end in sight to the cost of living crisis.

“We need further action to provide energy debt relief to get households onto even keel and long term changes to Britain’s broken energy system. This includes tariff reform and rapid improvements to energy efficiency of housing to ensure we never again see an energy bills crisis.”

Tessa Khan from Uplift, which is part of the Warm This Winter campaign, commented:

“If the Chancellor wants to boost growth he needed to tackle the energy crisis for the long term and he hasn’t.

“Energy bills will still rise, albeit by not quite as much, meaning millions of households will continue to live in fuel poverty. From July, the average household is still set to pay double what they were in 2021.

“Crucially, there is no long term plan here to fix the UK’s broken energy system for good: no support from upgrading homes, nothing to accelerate renewables to shift the UK away from volatile fossil fuels as is happening in other countries.

“While the Chancellor might like to think the energy crisis is over, for so many households and businesses unaffordable energy bills are still a painful reality.”

National Energy Action predict that the number of households in fuel poverty will grow to 7.5m as a result of the Budget announcement.

Graham Duxbury, Chief Executive of Groundwork UK, said:

“We are glad to see the government extending support with energy bills for a further three months and taking steps to tackle the injustice of higher costs for people on pre-payment meters.

“However, more needs to be done to ensure everyone is able to access the energy they need to stay warm and well.  Even with government support in place, our Green Doctor energy advisors have been shocked by the level of hardship households have experienced this winter.

“To avoid people suffering unnecessarily in the winters to come, we need a radical plan to eliminate fuel poverty, through increasing the energy efficiency of homes, providing better coordinated advice to the most vulnerable energy users, and investing in the skills and jobs we need to transform our energy infrastructure.

“Doing this is vital to preventing the worst effects of climate change, reducing health inequalities and creating more prosperous communities.”

Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) chief executive, Gavin Smart said:

“We’re pleased to see the government taking action to support people with high energy bills, by bringing charges for pre-payment meters in line with direct debit customers and extending the current Energy Price Guarantee at the current rate for a further three months. CIH called for this as part of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition. We would however have liked to have seen more support for energy efficiency measures, helping to tackle some of the root causes of current energy pressures.

“Housing was notable by its absence. We are disappointed that the Chancellor did not use this opportunity to restore local housing allowance to the 30th percentile, as we and others had called for. The decision to leave rates frozen at 2020 levels means the affordability gap for private renters will continue to grow, resulting in increased evictions and homelessness. We would urge government to urgently look again at this, particularly given its commitments on homelessness prevention.

“We note that various changes were announced on welfare. We await the details in this in the forthcoming White Paper and will provide further briefing for members on Budget announcements over the coming days.”