Fuel poverty set to hit 11m households as protesters gather in Westminster

New estimates by the End Fuel Poverty Coalition reveal that the axing of the Energy Price Guarantee could lead to almost 11m UK households in fuel poverty from April 2023.

Based on the latest estimates on energy prices from Cornwall Insight, figures will rise from 7m households now to 10.7m (a rise from 24.5% to 37.6% of households) from April 2023.

While numbers will then fall slightly, it will still leave 10.1m households in fuel poverty in winter 2023/24.

The figures come as protestors gather in London to ask MPs to back plans for a universal basic energy allowance.

This energy allowance, which would meet basic needs for heating, cooking and lighting, is the core component of the Energy For All petition which will be handed into Downing Street today with more than 600,000 signatures.

MPs can also now back an Early Day Motion supporting the Energy For All plans. Ruth London of Fuel Poverty Action said:

Even the Energy Price Guarantee, which was billed as the government’s two-year solution to the price crisis, will not last two years but will end in April.The outlook is frankly terrifying.

It is now all the more essential – and more possible – to win a totally new pricing framework like Energy For All.  Finally there is now support for this inside Parliament.”

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, commented:

The government may have brought some stability to the markets, but it has come at the cost of huge instability in households’ finances.

The new Chancellor must work quickly, and with consumer groups and charities, to design a new package of support and energy market reforms that will help those in fuel poverty now and post April.

But while the political focus on energy bills may now have shifted to next April, millions of the most vulnerable will be living in cold and damp homes this winter and will need further financial and non-financial support.

The Warm This Winter campaign has called for GBP14bn of additional financial support as well as non-financial help for households this winter.

Chief among the non-financial asks is an immediate suspension of all forced transfers of households onto more expensive pre-payment meters (PPMs), whether by court warrant or remotely via smart meters.

These demands come alongside calls for more investment in energy efficiency and a move towards a renewable energy future, and away from oil and gas.

Cara Jenkinson, Cities Manager at Ashden, which is part of the Warm This Winter campaign, added:

Poor quality homes that leak energy are currently causing the NHS £1.4bn a year as well as misery for people in damp, cold homes.

To solve fuel poverty for good, we need a rapid scale-up of home retrofit focused on the areas that need it most, with an investment in the construction skills needed so that work isn’t stalled by a lack of workers.

Tessa Khan, director of Uplift, said:

On top of everything else, this government’s plan to fix the UK’s energy system is also in disarray.

We need a government prepared to tackle the crisis at its root, which means moving the UK off volatile fossil fuels with a national insulation programme to cut waste, and a massive acceleration in renewable energy, which is now nine times cheaper than gas.

This is the only way to permanently lower energy bills.

The government needs to stop adding to our problems and fix the ones on their desk. This must begin today with providing more targeted help for those who are going to be hit hardest.

Ross Matthewman, Head of Policy and Public Affairs of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health said:

The decision to end the price cap freeze after six months rather than the proposed two years will have a devastating effect on households struggling with their energy bills. While insufficient, the two-year energy price cap freeze provided some reprieve to households, who now face grave uncertainty on what support on household energy bills exist beyond April.

We urgently call on the UK government to get a grip, reinstate the two-year energy price cap freeze as well as intervene more broadly to support households struggling with their energy bills.

While we welcomed the government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme, it is apparent that £400 spread over six months is simply not going to be enough to tackle the spiralling cost of energy crisis, with more significant intervention needed.

Not only are we are calling on the government to double the amount of financial support provided to households to protect households this winter, but we are also urging them to introduce a raft of energy efficiency measures. Such measures can act both as a means of supporting households most in need right now as well as shielding households from spiralling energy bills in the long-term.