Energy bills up in January as public blame Government for crisis

The public has placed the blame for people living in cold damp homes this winter at the door of the Government.  

In the Chancellor’s autumn statement on Wednesday, the Government refused to accept proposals from charities to provide an Emergency Energy Tariff for the most in need households and also ruled out a ‘help to repay’ scheme for the millions of people in energy debt. 

Polling conducted prior to the Autumn Statement for the Warm This Winter campaign found that well over a third of the public (37%) already attributed significant responsibility for the energy bills crisis to Government policy. 

Hardly any respondents (3%) said that Government policy bore no responsibility for people living in cold damp homes. [1]

Meanwhile, the Office of Budget Responsibility has concluded that the impact of the cost of living crisis and high energy bills means that living standards are forecast to be 3½ per cent lower in 2024-25 than pre-pandemic. Economists claim that this is the largest reduction in living standards since records began in the 1950s.

Fi Waters, spokesperson for the Warm This Winter campaign, commented:

“We’re devastated that the emergency energy tariff that would give hard-pressed families money off their monthly bills has not been adopted by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement, but we’ve not given up. 

“The Government should be putting the vulnerable, disabled people, the elderly, those with medical conditions and the pregnant first rather than condemning them to living in cold damp homes.”

From 1 January 2024, Ofgem have confirmed that the average household’s energy bill will increase by 5% (or £94 a year) from current prices.

Compared to last year, the unit cost changes show decreases, but these are offset by daily standing charges that have increased by 5% for gas and 14% for electricity. Standing charges are now subject to a review by Ofgem.

When compared to pre-crisis levels, gas unit costs are more than double what they were and electricity costs are up 129%. Standing charges are up 8% for gas and 119% for electricity. [3]

A spokesperson from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, commented:

“These price hikes come at the worst possible time for households. Bills will go up just as winter bites hard and household finances are hit further by Christmas credit cards, the long January pay period and the ongoing wider cost of living crisis.

“We warned* Ofgem that a January price cap rise was a bad idea when the regulator consulted on this in 2022. Now the chilling effect of the change is being realised, the inhumanity of this policy is clear to see.

“It will be anything but a happy new year for people trapped in Britain’s broken energy system.” 

Fi Waters from Warm This Winter continued:

“The price cap rising again in January is yet another kick in the teeth to ordinary people, particularly as in the last few weeks we’ve seen energy companies lining up to announce hundreds of millions of pounds worth of profits. They are raking it in and laughing all the way to the bank while ordinary people can’t afford to turn their heating on.

“It’s clear our energy system is broken. The relentless roll call of obscene profits and now a hike in energy bills in the new year, is not only hugely unfair, it’s costing lives, damaging health and wasting money as our reliance on fossil fuels is keeping bills sky high.”

Jonathan Bean from Fuel Poverty Action added:

“These inflated prices mean more cold damp homes and more deaths. Ofgem is protecting profits not people.”


[1] Methodology note: Opinium conducted a nationally representative survey among 2,000 UK Adults from the 20th – 24th October 2023. Results were weighted to be nationally representative.

The public believe that energy firms have similar levels of responsibility as the Government –  showing similar levels of polling (38% felt firms had significant responsibility / 4% thought they had no responsibility). Just 15% said that external factors such as the war in Ukraine had a significant responsibility for the crisis (13% said these had no impact).

Q:UK24852_Q8. Summary – On a scale of 1 to 5 to what extent do you think the following groups are responsible  for the high numbers of people living in cold damp homes each winter? 1 indicates no responsibility at all and 5 indicates significant responsibility.  
  UK government policy Energy companies House builders Landlords External factors, such as the war in Ukraine
Base: All respondents (Unweighted) 2000 2000 2000 2000 2000
Base: All respondents (Weighted) 2000 2000 2000 2000 2000
1 – No responsibility 3% 4% 5% 4% 13%
70 72 108 76 262
2- 8% 7% 12% 8% 13%
150 135 231 163 270
3- 21% 21% 29% 22% 27%
427 421 582 445 535
4- 23% 22% 22% 23% 19%
452 447 443 469 388
5 – Significant responsibility 37% 38% 20% 33% 15%
732 760 404 661 305
Don’t know 8% 8% 12% 9% 12%
170 165 232 186 241

[*] Letter to Ofgem from End Fuel Poverty Coalition on January price rise proposal 

[3] Price Cap changes in unit costs and standing charges available at 


Struggling households need £73 a month off energy bills to keep warm this winter

Data commissioned by the Warm This Winter campaign has revealed how much it would take to enable struggling households to be able to afford their energy bills. [1]

A fifth (21%) said that they need over £100 a month off their energy bills. On average, people struggling to pay energy costs said they need £73 a month off their bills to keep themselves warm this winter.

A fifth (21%) said that they need over £100 a month. On average, people struggling to pay energy costs said they need £73 a month off their bills to keep themselves warm this winter.

For those in work, the figure is £71 and for those who are not working, it rises to £77 a month.

Furthermore, Ofgem is expected to increase energy bills by 5% from 1 January and predictions from experts show that prices will remain high until March 2025.

Over a third (38%) of people from households where someone is under 5, pregnant, over 65 or with preexisting health conditions think they won’t or may not be able to afford to put the heating on at all this winter. Almost two thirds (62%) already want to put the heating on, but are worried about the cost. 

A wide range of health, poverty, housing and environmental organisations and academics have called on the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt MP, to help families most in need of support through the introduction of an Emergency Energy Tariff and a help to repay scheme for those in energy debt.

The Emergency Energy Tariff would use the existing Energy Price Guarantee mechanism to fix the unit costs and standing charges for vulnerable groups at a lower level. Campaigners have suggested that this is fixed at the levels of energy bills in winter 2020/21, which would see eligible households’ monthly energy bills reduced by approximately £87 a month from current levels – a saving of around 46%. [2]

Polling suggests 83% of the general public – who have an opinion would support such a measure [3].

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, commented:

“If the UK Government thinks that people will be able to get through this winter without more support for their energy bills, then they are living in cloud cuckoo land. 

“We need to see the Chancellor introduce an Emergency Energy Tariff for vulnerable households and a Help To Repay scheme for those in energy debt.

“Even in winter 2024/25, energy bills will be 79% higher than winter 2020/21. Record prices are here to stay and the UK Government needs to take action to help people stay warm this winter and every winter through increased support for insulation and renewables.

“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.”

Fi Waters, spokesperson for the Warm This Winter campaign, said:

“The Government is now running dangerously out of time to help people who are most at risk of the health complications of living in cold damp homes.

“People want to see bills come down permanently, which is going to require further government action.

“We need to see beefed up programmes to insulate homes, more heat pumps fitted, which are cheaper to run, and more homegrown renewable energy built so we can get off expensive gas.”

The initial research to inform the development of the proposal and targeting of support was undertaken by the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute and Cambridge Architectural Research.


[1] Methodology note: Opinium conducted a nationally representative survey among 2,000 UK Adults from the 20th – 24th October 2023. Results were weighted to be nationally representative.

Previous research found that 18% of the population spent last winter in cold damp homes, with a quarter of people with health conditions unable to heat their homes to a safe standard (26%, 4.75m).

UK population NET: Working NET: Not working
Base: All answering who would need to cut down essential spending, or couldn’t afford their bill even with essential cuts, or said they were unsure if their bill would be affordable (Weighted) 1339 845 493
[113] £101 or more 21% 17% 28%
281 141 140
[88] £76-£100 17% 18% 13%
222 156 66
[63] £51-£75 20% 24% 14%
269 199 70
[38] £26-£50 14% 15% 13%
191 127 64
[13] £1-£25 2% 3% 2%
32 23 9
[0] I do not need bills to come down in order to stay warm this winter 3% 3% 4%
45 23 22
Don’t know 22% 21% 25%
300 176 124
Average 73.0 70.7 77.2

[2] The full copy of the letter is available online: 

[3] Polling figures on support for the Emergency Tariff exclude those who responded “don’t know”. Including Don’t Knows still sees consistent support in the high 60s, low 70s percentage. 

Autumn statement: Overlooking energy efficiency will leave millions in the cold this winter

Press release in response to Autumn Statement (23.11.16)

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition (EFPC) warns that failure to adequately invest in binding energy efficiency targets risks leaving millions struggling in fuel poverty this winter

Philip Hammond’s first Autumn Statement showed no mention of investment in energy saving and efficiency measures so desperately needed to lift 2.3m English homes out of fuel poverty this winter. The statement flies in the face of recommendations recently made by the Committee on Fuel Poverty, the government’s own advisory body, who call for a £20bn injection for its legally binding 2030 targets and 2020 and 2025 milestones to be met.

While in today’s Autumn Statement the government held fast to its intentions to tackle inequality, spend more on the country’s infrastructure and intervene to address failing energy markets and high energy pricing, there was a glaring and obvious energy efficiency shaped hole in the measures outlined. A lack of investment in energy efficiency measures, such as a well-funded second Energy Company Obligation, is a huge missed opportunity for economic growth and poverty alleviation.

The government must find £20bn if it is serious about meeting its legally binding fuel poverty target – that the energy standards of all fuel poor homes must be at least EPC C by 2030, the standard of homes built today. It is likely to miss its two interim milestones set out in its 2015 Fuel Poverty Strategy that is that by 2020 no fuel poor household should live in a dangerously cold home below EPC E and that by 2025 no fuel poor household should live in a cold home – below EPC D.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition is calling for the government to:
• Make sure £20bn is invested in improving fuel poor homes, as recommended by the Committee
• Hold a much-delayed parliamentary debate on fuel poverty as legally required, already overdue from May
• Put in place a detailed cross-departmental strategy and plan to show how it will meet the 2030 target and interim milestones

Fuel poverty background
• Twice as many fuel poor households live in cold homes (41%) as non-fuel poor households (19%)
• Fuel poor households need to pay £371 more per year to keep their home warm compared to the average household in England
• Prepayment meter consumers are more likely to be on a low income, a lone parent and disabled, yet pay on average £226 annually more for their energy than those paying by Direct Debit
• 2.3 million homes live in fuel poverty in England
• 96% of fuel poor homes are poorly insulated
• 21 million UK homes have poor energy efficiency (below B and C on an EPC)

Jenny Holland, Chair of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition said:

“Being able to live in a home that is warm over wintertime is a most basic need, currently unmet by 2.3 million families in England. The Autumn Statement was a prime opportunity for the government to prove its commitment to energy efficiency and in turn the alleviation of fuel poverty. However, the lack of mention of vital energy efficiency measures sadly nods towards its own legally binding energy efficiency targets being more rhetoric than reality.

If the government is truly committed to building an economy that works for everyone, it will recognise the huge benefits of recognising energy efficiency as an infrastructure priority and the huge potential for job creation in tandem with poverty alleviation.”