The overwhelming majority of the population believe the Government should do more to help people through the energy crisis, according to new polling by Omnisis on behalf of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition.
Over 60 charities, co-ordinated by the Warm This Winter campaign, have joined forces to write to the new Prime Minister [pdf] demanding more financial and non-financial support for the 7m UK households currently in fuel poverty.
The letter goes on to call for the upweighting of benefits and urgent clarification of energy bills support available from April 2023, a massive programme of energy efficiency measures and the speeding up of moves to cheaper renewable energy.
The campaigners are supported by the new research which shows 76% of the population think the Government is not doing enough to support vulnerable households this winter.
Even taking into account the Energy Price Guarantee and the Energy Bills Support Scheme pledged by the Government, 58% of the population believe they will struggle to pay their bills this winter.
The research shows that people in the South West (68%), Wales (64%), the East Midlands and the North East (both 63%) are the areas where the most people are fighting to make ends meet.
And the situation will get worse. Over 8 in 10 (83%) are very or quite worried about the prospect of bills going up further in April 2023 when the current Government support programmes run out.
Joe Cole, Chief Executive of Advice for Renters, is one of the signatories of the letter and commented:
One of our clients who suffers from PTSD was pushed close to suicide when he couldn’t top up his pre-payment meter.
Thankfully, help was on hand and he has now been put back in credit, but he remains traumatised and his experience is proof of just how damaging life in fuel poverty can be on mental and physical health.
Tessa Khan, director of Uplift, said:
While our politicians have spent months fighting among themselves, the public has been watching this crisis bearing down on us.
It now demands urgent government action, which means more support for those who need it this winter, and the wholesale replacement of Truss’ implausible and wrong-headed plans for taxpayer-subsidised gas production with a government-backed programme to insulate homes and an acceleration of cheaper renewables.
Pragmatism not ideology must be what drives this government’s decisions.
Gavin Smart, CEO Chartered Institute of Housing, commented:
Renters are being hit particularly hard by the cost of living crisis. Social landlords are doing what they can to support residents, but too often they are still unable to afford to heat their homes. We urgently need the government to commit to uprating benefits with inflation and guaranteeing energy bills support beyond April, alongside a national insulation programme, to reduce unaffordable bills in both the short and long term.
Sarah Woolnough, CEO of Asthma + Lung UK, said:
Untenable cost of living hikes are forcing people with lung conditions to make impossible choices about their health, with people already reporting a sharp decline in their lung health.
Lives are at risk if the government doesn’t step in to help people with lung conditions, to provide more support for people on low incomes so they can afford to keep their homes warm this winter.
Richard Quallington, Executive Director of Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) said:
It’s not just deprived urban areas where people will be struggling to heat their homes this winter. Many rural parts of the country are also seeing large numbers of people running into difficulties, particularly those living in older homes that are not connected to mains gas.
Rachel Kirby-Rider, Chief Executive of Young Lives vs Cancer, said:
Young Lives vs Cancer have been calling on the government for years to tackle the huge costs experienced by children and young people with cancer and their families. They are disproportionately affected by the cost of living crisis, and were already experiencing unmanageable costs before bills started to rise.
When you care for a child or young person with cancer, you don’t have a choice whether to keep the heating on to keep them well. We urgently need an energy and cost of living plan that protects the poorest and most vulnerable – including children and young people with cancer.
Omnisis surveyed 1,382 people on 21 October 2022. Results were weighted to be reflective of the GB population. Omnisis is a member of the British Polling Council. Full results can be downloaded from the following link: https://www.omnisis.co.uk/poll-results/VI-5-results-20-10-2022-energy