Reaction to Spring 2024 Budget

The latest financial statement from the Chancellor failed to meet in full any of the recommendations set out by the End Fuel Poverty Coalition in its budget submission.

While the energy firms Windfall Tax and the Household Support Fund were both extended for limited periods, other support measures end on the 31 March.

The budget also contained no new funding for energy efficiency support.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition commented:

“What we needed from the Chancellor was a long term plan for warm homes and cheaper energy, but instead the government has condemned families to another winter in cold homes and has failed to fund reform to Britain’s broken energy system.

“The government is pulling the plug on support for households in fuel poverty. The Energy Price Guarantee and the cost of living payments now join the Energy Bills Support Scheme on a bonfire of policies that were helping people with surging energy bills. The Household Support Fund will be extended, but only for another 6 months – ending before next winter sets in. 

“But as this support is axed, the price households pay for their energy is still 60% higher than in 2021 and levels of energy debt are soaring. Meanwhile the wider cost of living crisis means people simply can’t afford to keep the lights on.

“While the extension of the Windfall Tax is a recognition that the energy crisis is not over, economists estimate that it has actually shaved £18bn off the cost of extracting fossil fuels over next three years by increasing energy firms’ tax relief allowances. This loophole must be closed.”

Jonathan Bean, from Fuel Poverty Action added:

“Removing the loopholes in windfall taxes on huge energy firm profits would fund essential energy for all.

Warm This Winter spokesperson Fiona Waters said:

“Today’s budget is a waste of energy that will still leave millions out in the cold.

“There’s some cold comfort in the extension of the Housing Support Fund but it will barely make a dent in the huge debt ordinary people have now built up as they struggle to pay sky high bills that are still 60% more than three years ago.

“Families, pensioners, children and the poor are freezing as energy companies make a billion pounds in profit each and every week.”

Will Walker from Warm This Winter campaign members Ashden, commented on X that the budget was “barren” and that:

“Unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the last decade from Government is dither, delay and division on net zero. This has undermined business and investor confidence, weakened supply chains and added to UK energy bills.”

Joanna Elson CBE, chief executive of Independent Age, said:

“Today’s Budget was a missed opportunity to help those in later life already living in financial hardship and address the incoming pensioner poverty surge. Cutting National Insurance won’t help the more than 2 million older people living in poverty, or the many more living with precarious finances struggling to make ends meet. Transformative change is needed to improve their lives.

“While the lower energy price cap and the increased State Pension are welcome, there is still a long way to go for older people in financial insecurity to be able to afford even the basics. Bills are still astronomically high, and our helpline hears daily from older people rationing themselves to just one meal a day and washing in cold water to save energy.

“The cost-of-living payments have ended and older people in financial hardship are already at breaking point. While the temporary extension of the Household Support Fund is welcome, long-term solutions are needed to protect them from high household costs. The UK Government needs to introduce a single energy social tariff and water social tariff. This would help shield people of all ages living on a low income, including older people, from high and unmanageable costs.

“Today, the UK Government reiterated its commitment to uprate Pension Credit, but it must now implement a strategic and targeted plan to get this money into eligible pockets. As the latest figures show that up to 880,000 households missed out, an uptake strategy is urgently needed to target those who need financial support but aren’t aware it exists or don’t know they are eligible.

“Pensioner poverty has been steadily rising since 2012. Sadly, nothing announced today will reverse this alarming trend. That’s why we need a cross-party review to establish an adequate minimum level of income needed to avoid poverty in later life. Until that happens, we risk seeing more older people fall into financial hardship.”

Image credit: Warm This Winter / © Jess Hurd

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.”

Call for social tariff as a quarter of old people live in cold homes

New research by Age UK shows that a quarter (24 per cent) of over-60s are living in homes which are colder than they would like them to be, rising to 27 per cent for older people with a disability.

The polling comes as 100 charities and non-profit organisations across the UK have joined together to call for more targeted support in the form of a social tariff for the energy market to help older and disabled households heat their homes.

A social energy tariff is a discounted, targeted tariff aimed at those in greatest need to ensure they are able to live in their homes comfortably.

The plans have been set out in a letter to the Chancellor and would support low-income households who face a double burden from the rising cost of bills and paying more for their energy due to the poverty premium.

The letter calls for targeted support to be made available to those who need it most – including those on means-tested benefits, disability benefits and Carer’s Allowance as well as those missing out on welfare support but still struggling with their bills.

In addition, National Energy Action and Energy Action Scotland have today released their latest Fuel Poverty Monitor which provides an annual analysis of how the energy crisis has impacted fuel-poor households.

The Monitor confirms that households living on the lowest incomes, in the least efficient homes and on pre-payment meters, are being hardest hit by energy price increases.

It recommends the Government urgently consults on a mandatory social tariff to begin in April 2024, or sooner if practicable, to provide affordable energy for low-income and vulnerable households; and that the focus of this should be to ensure that the targeting of such a scheme goes beyond just those households that receive means-tested benefits.

From April 2023, the Government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme comes to an end and the support provided by the Energy Price Guarantee will be reduced.

Demand for the charities’ services are high and they are being inundated with calls from people in dire need, for example those relying on medical equipment like dialysis machines, who are facing a daily struggle to keep their equipment turned on and stay warm and well.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said:

Imagine having to choose between staying warm, feeding your family, or powering essential medical equipment. This is the reality for increasing numbers of older and disabled households across the country.

Older people are struggling to get by now, and that’s before another energy price increase comes their way in a few months’ time. Many will simply not be able to cope with further price rises and we’re extremely concerned their health and wellbeing will pay the price.

There needs to be much more protection for those who have no other means of paying such extortionate energy costs. The Government must introduce a social tariff for the energy market whilst prices are so high, and ensure we never face a crisis like this again.

Fuel Poverty Monitor author Matt Copeland, head of policy and public affairs at National Energy Action, says:

We spoke to over a hundred organisations across the UK, directly with our clients and polled the general public. From this it’s clear that the energy crisis is having a profound impact on the poorest and most vulnerable households in society.

Whether households are heating just one room for just a few hours a week, or rationing the use of their medical equipment, the results are completely unacceptable in modern day society. So far, the UK Government has offered sticking plaster solutions to the crisis.

What is really needed is structural change to the energy market. We were told time and again that a social tariff is what is needed. Today we come together with hundreds of other organisations to say just that. The UK Government must urgently prioritise work to implement a social tariff as soon as possible.

James Taylor, Director of Strategy at disability equality charity Scope, said:

Astronomical energy bills are pushing disabled people to the brink.

Our helpline has been inundated with calls from disabled people whose bills have doubled or even quadrupled in a year.

Prices will rise again this April but disabled families have nothing left to cut back on. They can’t turn off vital, life-saving equipment and budgets can’t stretch any further.

Other plans for an “Energy For All” allowance for all households to have access to a free band of energy are also being developed by End Fuel Poverty Coalition members.

Coalition responds to Chancellor’s autumn statement

End Fuel Poverty Coalition members have reacted to the Chancellor’s autumn statement as it has been confirmed that Coalition members will be joining forces with others in the Warm This Winter campaign to call for a day of action on 3 December to protest at the lack of UK Government support for those in fuel poverty.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, commented:

The Chancellor has now condemned 7 million households to suffer in fuel poverty this winter. The rise in the energy price cap from April next year could see this figure increase to 8.6 million households.

We are already seeing the horrific impact of living in cold damp homes on children, the elderly, disabled and those with illnesses ranging from cancer to asthma. Even with the additional funding pledged to the NHS and social care system today, we are deeply concerned that it will be overwhelmed by the energy bills crisis and millions will suffer.

The Chancellor could have raised all the money required to save the public from fuel poverty this winter through a more comprehensive Windfall Tax. Instead, he has chosen to protect the profits of oil and gas firms over protecting people’s lives.

A film by the Warm This Winter campaign summarised the criticisms of the Budget.

Tessa Khan from Uplift commented:

The chancellor rightly diagnosed climate breakdown and energy affordability as two of the biggest challenges we face, but has sided today with the industry driving both: oil and gas.

Until this year, the UK offered among the most lucrative tax conditions for oil and gas producers in the world. The rise in the rate of the windfall tax to 35% is therefore welcome, but it is a temporary fix when what is needed is permanent reform.

More alarmingly, Hunt has failed to close the gaping tax loophole that allows companies such as Shell to avoid tax if they invest in new oil and gas fields. It also gives them an even bigger handout if they choose to power their oil and gas rigs using wind – despite the fact that the vast majority of emissions come from burning, not extracting, oil.

Not only will this see billions in lost tax, it sends us in precisely the opposite direction to the one that will get us out of this hole for good.

This is the “highway to climate hell”, that the UN secretary general, António Guterres, warned world leaders about at Cop27.

It is also the route to permanently high energy bills.

Electricity generators have also been hit with a 45% windfall tax but without the generous allowance for new investment that oil and gas companies benefit from.

This is an absurd outcome given the dual crises we face of climate breakdown and energy affordability.

Alethea Warrington, from climate charity Possible, which is part of the Warm This Winter campaign, said:

The Chancellor’s windfall tax doesn’t go far enough on dirty fossil fuels, while clean energy generators got slapped with the biggest single levy increase in the budget.

This is completely backwards.

Oil and gas companies continue to reap eye-watering profits while the climate and people across the UK feel the burn.

The government should act to increase clean, cheap energy by unblocking onshore wind and implement a bigger windfall tax on oil and gas companies.

This would provide the funds we need to keep everyone warmer this winter by insulating our homes and cutting bills for those who need it most.

While the Government did announce funding for energy efficiency measures and a new task force to make it the nation’s mission to improve buildings, Sam Alvis, head of economy at Green Alliance, said:

The chancellor is asking people to wait another three years to get their home insulated when they urgently need help now. Promises for after the next election isn’t good enough.

Today was more about raising money than spending it. It’s right that oil and gas companies are being asked to pay more, but it’s still unclear why the UK isn’t levying the same tax rate as Norway.

While the investment allowance has shrunk for oil and gas, electricity generators aren’t getting the same incentives.


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.

New chancellor set to axe Energy Price Guarantee from April

Fuel poverty campaigners have reacted with shock to news that the new Chancellor will end the Energy Price Guarantee in April 2023.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition commented:

The country was already facing a financial cliff edge in April due to plans to end other support packages, but this cliff edge has now become even steeper.
Without the Energy Price Guarantee, the Government will need to fundamentally reform the energy market alongside providing unprecedented levels of support for energy efficiency schemes and financial support for the most vulnerable.
But any threat to people’s energy security is a threat to their health and wellbeing. If people cannot trust the Government to deliver the support it has promised, what trust can anyone have that they will keep people warm this winter and beyond?
The need for the Government to provide additional support for the most vulnerable this winter has also not disappeared and we hope the Treasury quickly acts to reassure households.

Chaitanya Kumar, head of environment and the green transition at the New Economics Foundation, commented:

The biggest surprise in the chancellor’s statement is to scale back the energy price guarantee, the government’s flagship support programme. The unfrozen price cap is now expected to rise above £6,000 from April 2023, which creates a massive cliff edge for families.

The government should get support where it’s most needed and fix our broken energy market. One way of doing this is by entitling every family to a basic amount of universal energy at free or subsidised rates.

This can ensure that nobody is left to make choices between heating and eating while encouraging those who can afford it to reduce their energy use.

But the only long-term solution to real energy security is to help people cut their energy demand and the first step is to help insulate our homes.

There is still time to roll out an emergency insulation programme this winter that can save both families and the treasury billions.

Henry Gregg, Director of External Affairs at Asthma + Lung UK, said:

Removing the energy price guarantee will spark fear in people living with long-term lung conditions, such as asthma and COPD, who need to keep their homes warm to survive.

People who were already struggling with rising energy bills are now hanging on by a thread with no safety net in place beyond next spring. Millions of people in this country are already living in fuel poverty and an end to the bill freeze in April could negatively impact many, many more.

Lives are already being lost, the Government must act now to prevent further damage. It must commit to helping people with lung conditions, who need warm homes to survive, and provide financial support for people facing extra energy bills for life-saving medical equipment.

Juliet Philips from the E3G think tank tweeted:

▶️Essential gov gets ‘targeting’ right – huge risk that millions could fall through gap with simple metrics
▶️£2.5k is untenable for fuel poor – quantum must be increased for vulnerable
▶️Must boost investment in long-term solutions to lower bills; home retrofits & renewables— Juliet Phillips (@_JulietPhillips) October 17, 2022

While National Energy Action called the plan, said the almighty trade-off “may provide confidence and certainty for markets, it could cause anxiety and doubt for households” leaving families “clinging on by their fingertips.”

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said:

It’s been hard keeping up with all the fiscal policy changes the last few days, but they seem to leave us in a position now in which nothing is guaranteed and with the Government increasingly warning of ‘hard choices to come’. This chilling outlook will be a huge concern for our older population, with only the healthiest and wealthiest able to view the future with equanimity.

Pensioners on low and modest incomes, or with high costs, have the most to worry about and for their sake we urge the Government to raise benefits in line with prices, not wages, and to extend help far enough up the income range so that the group once referred to by their party as ‘just about managing’, (i.e. not just those living below the poverty line) also get some support. The truth is that all these groups of older people, numbering several million, need an injection of additional cash to see them through the winter, not only from April 2023 onwards, when we trust that Ministers will keep their promise to reinstate the triple lock. Without more support between now and the spring though, the prospects for pensioners on low and modest incomes and with no savings are bleak, and we cannot see how they will be able to afford to buy even the basics. Without more help it seems certain that some will sink into deep hardship this winter unlike anything most of us have seen before.

Older people depend on being able to access good quality health and social care, and with the quality and availability of these services already severely compromised by shortages of staff and funding, the idea that there could be any further cuts to them is inconceivable. Both need more resources and a long-term sustainable plan for the future, not further cuts and uncertainty.

Like most of the older people we exist to help, at Age UK we are incredibly worried about what may be to come, and we implore the Government to stand with our older population through this crisis.

Government £14bn short on measures to tackle fuel poverty

Around seven million homes in the UK will experience dire fuel poverty without a further £14bn package of emergency support, according to campaigners. [1]

Despite the Energy Price Guarantee, the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme and other support already announced, more help will be needed to prevent the severe health impacts of living in cold, damp homes crippling the NHS and causing excess winter deaths.

Even including the Energy Price Guarantee, the End Fuel Poverty Coalition calculates that the unit cost of gas has increased by between 153% and 165% since winter 2021, while the unit cost of electricity has increased 63-68%. [2]

The Warm This Winter campaign is now calling for additional financial and non-financial support for households this winter. [3]

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. [4]

Financially, Warm This Winter is calling for additional, targeted financial support measures to those who need it most. This would include a third cost of living payment of £325 for those on income linked benefits to be paid on 1 December.

Campaigners have also asked for a further £150 uplift in disability benefits, the restoration of the £20 Universal Credit uplift, increasing the energy bill support payments for people who do not have a mains gas connection and ensuring that all households who received the Warm Homes Discount last winter can access a £150 rebate this winter (regardless of the new process which now uses an algorithm to decide who benefits).

The cost of these additional financial measures would be around £14bn, but the Government could further help those with pre-existing health conditions by suspending all prescription charges in England and suspending any deductions to benefits to recover money owed for a variety of debts and advances, including energy bills.

Sarah Woolnough, CEO of Asthma + Lung UK, said:

With millions of homes set to be plunged into fuel poverty this winter, we’re extremely concerned that the nation’s lung health will rapidly deteriorate if the government doesn’t step up to help the most vulnerable.

If people cannot afford to heat their homes, they may be forced to live in freezing homes where cold and flu viruses can thrive. Cold air is a common trigger for people with lung conditions, with around two-thirds of people with asthma and COPD that we surveyed saying that it can make their symptoms worse.

We know that people with lung conditions are already struggling with price hikes – 1 in 5 that we surveyed said they’d had an asthma attack because of changes they’d made to their lives in response to the cost of living crisis, such as skipping meals, not picking up prescriptions, and using mains-powered medical machinery less. Things will only get worse when temperatures plummet and colds and viruses ramp up.

We need the government to do more for people with chronic health conditions, and to provide targeted financial support for people on low incomes and living with lung disease. Without these measures, there is the real risk that people will be forced to take major risks with their health this winter.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, commented:

In addition to supporting households now, Government policy has created a cliff edge in April 2023, with the Energy Bills Support Scheme and additional Cost of Living Payments due to end.

This will result in the numbers of households in fuel poverty rising to almost eight million. The situation will be made worse if benefits are not uprated by inflation and if prescription charges increase.

Therefore the Government must also set out a medium term plan for financial support while we wait for longer term measures to take effect.

Cara Jenkinson, Cities Manager, Ashden said:

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.

Other measures the government could take to support households stay warm this winter, include:

  • The launch of a centralised public information campaign to ensure people are aware of, and signed up to, the Priority Service Register.
  • Guidance to local authorities on best practice in using the Household Support Fund (HSF) to deliver free boiler repairs (where ECO criteria are not met), providing warm packs and financial support on non-means-tested benefits (e.g. ESA).
  • Work with charities and local authorities to increase the provision of energy advice (for example, single local point of contact for those struggling) and to develop guidance on how social prescribing could be used to help tackle fuel poverty.

Working with landlords, the Government could also support tenants in fuel poverty through:

  • Introducing a social rent cap, alongside ring-fenced funding to social landlords so that energy efficiency improvements are not sacrificed in the event of supply chain costs increasing.
  • Introducing a private sector rent freeze (similar to that introduced by the Scottish Government).
  • Urging local authorities to ensure landlords comply with existing private rented sector regulations – highlighting that enforcing these regulations is cost-neutral in the long term.


[1] Fuel poverty levels estimated by the End Fuel Poverty Coalition. For methodology and assumptions visit:

£14bn made up of:

– £325 to c.8m households – £2.6bn

– £150 to c.16m disabled households  – £2.4bn

– £20/week = £1040/year to c.8m households = £8.3bn

– Additional £150 for c.4m off gas households = £600m

– WHD ask = up to £160m

Full details of Warm This Winter are briefing available on request.

[2] Analysis by End Fuel Poverty Coalition on energy prices, full charts available on request.

[3] Warm this Winter is a new campaign demanding the government acts now to help tackle rising energy bills this winter and to ensure energy is affordable for everyone in the future. It is supported by leading anti-poverty and environmental organisations, including Save the Children, WWF and the End Fuel Poverty Coalition.

[4] The Government could do this by issuing a directive to energy firms and Ofgem instructing them to comply with the terms and conditions of pre-payment meter installations, with stringent enforcement and financial penalty for non-compliance. Given that installing these meters severely limits the amount of energy which can be used by these groups, it cannot be possible that installation of PPMs this winter meets the terms of Ofgem rules that PPMs can only be installed if it is “safe and reasonably practicable” to do so.

Homes to see energy prices surge overnight

As the fall-out continues from the Chancellor’s mini-Budget, new analysis of the impact of the Energy Price Guarantee has revealed a stark winter facing millions of people.

The Government’s plan only caps the cost per unit that households pay, with actual bills still determined by how much energy is consumed.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition calculates that the combined electricity and gas unit cost of energy will surge for households by between 23% and 27% overnight on Friday. [1]

The level of surge depends on the type of payment method and where people live in the country.

When standing charges are also included in the analysis, those on standard credit will pay 12% more and those on pre-payment meters 11% more than those on direct debit.

While the Energy Bills Support Scheme will lower peoples bills by GBP400 in the short-term, this saving expires in April 2023 creating a fresh hike in people’s bills. For households on benefits, the additional support they have had since May 2022 will also expire early in 2023 making the impact even more severe. [2]

Campaigners have urged the public to take meter readings tonight and submit them to their energy suppliers to ensure they do not incur additional costs caused by the increased unit prices from 1 October 2022.

In addition, the End Fuel Poverty Coalition has urged the Government to go further in support for energy efficiency measures.

In last week’s mini-Budget, over GBP1bn additional funding was pledged to improve insulation of peoples’ homes over the next three years. New estimates show that this falls far short of the additional GBP5bn energy efficiency investment needed.

Meanwhile, the number of UK households in fuel poverty will increase from 7 million from 1 October to nearer 8m from 1 April 2023 as the Energy Bills Support Scheme runs out.

Frazer Scott, CEO of Energy Action Scotland, commented:

This week, every household across the UK must make sure it submits a meter reading to their energy firm to avoid paying a penny more than they absolutely have to when prices go up on 1 October.

Fuel poverty is at record levels, levels of energy efficiency improvements are simply too low to provide respite and financial support is just a sticking plaster on the deepest of wounds.

As unit costs for electricity and gas push bills higher still in October, communities will suffer and take years to recover. Meanwhile the impact of fuel poverty will be felt on the NHS and social care system and lives will be needlessly lost.

Asthma + Lung UK has recently seen calls to the charity’s helpline from people needing advice for help with their finances or benefits soar by 89% [3]. Dr Andrew Whittamore, Clinical Lead at Asthma + Lung UK and a practising GP, said:

Winter is the deadliest season for people with lung conditions. Cold homes are very dangerous for people with lung conditions because they provide the perfect environment for respiratory infections to thrive.

This situation is untenable and Asthma + Lung UK is urging the government to provide targeted financial support to help people with lung conditions with the rising cost of bills and living.

Tessa Khan, director of Uplift which is part of the Warm This Winter campaign, said:

The government’s massive energy bill bailout is costing us a fortune but doesn’t fix the problem at its root: millions of people will still be forced into impossible choices by soaring gas prices and still we have no credible plan from the government to wean the UK off volatile fossil fuels.

With homegrown renewables now nine times cheaper than UK gas, it is 100% in the national interest to accelerate all forms of cheap, renewable energy so that we don’t find ourselves facing the same energy bill crisis in years to come.

Rhi Hughes, Community Engagement Manager, South West London Law Centres said:

All of us will have a lack of control this winter. It won’t be a case of ‘well, I just won’t put the heating on’ or ‘I will use minimum electricity today’ to get us out of this. Although cutting down fuel use will help, our standing charges are going to sharply increase. If we can’t top up our pre-payment meters we will be getting into debt with our service charges and that debt will keep growing.

Such a range of households are going to be hit so hard by the increase. Homeowners in homes that need repairs have leaks, windows that don’t shut, doors that don’t close and they are just going to freeze as they don’t have the money to fix the problem or to put the heating on.

Some tenants are forced to live in such bad condition housing that there is nothing they can do to keep heat in as there are large cracks in walls or ceilings. It is the responsibility of the landlords to fix these issues but they don’t – especially housing association and council tenants. These large authorities are exasperating the crisis for the people they are paid rent by.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, added:

The Government has created a double dose of pain for households. Many will be hit with the rising energy bills immediately, with another dose of pain inflicted when the financial support runs out by April 2023.

We need action now to reassure people that support will continue next year and urgent action to improve the energy efficiency of our homes into the future.



Price cap unit rates chart
All financial numbers are quoted in p
Cost from 1 Oct 22 Cost until 30 Sep 22 INCREASE FROM SUMMER 22
GAS UNIT (kwh) 10.3 7.37 39.76%
GAS SC 28.49 27.22 4.67%
ELEC UNIT 34 28.34 19.97%
ELEC SC 46.36 45.34 2.25%
1 day of both fuels & 1 kwh used of both fuels 119.15 108.27 10.05%
1 unit of each 44.3 35.71 24.05%
From 1 Oct Until 1 Oct INCREASE
GAS UNIT (kwh) 10.63 7.36 44.43%
GAS SC 37.51 37.28 0.62%
ELEC UNIT (kwh) 33.08 28.11 17.68%
ELEC SC 51.41 50.27 2.27%
1 day of both fuels & 1 kwh used of both fuels 132.63 123.02 7.81%
1 unit of each 43.71 35.47 23.23%
Uplift from DD 13.48 14.75
% Uplift from DD 11.31% 13.62%
From 1 Oct Until 1 Oct INCREASE
GAS UNIT (kwh) 11.12 7.76 43.30%
GAS SC 33.54 32 4.81%
ELEC UNIT (kwh) 36.8 29.85 23.28%
ELEC SC 52.4 51.16 2.42%
1 day of both fuels & 1 kwh used of both fuels 133.86 120.77 10.84%
1 unit of each 47.92 37.61 27.41%
Uplift from DD 14.71 12.5
% Uplift from DD 12.35% 11.55%
Original data unit cost source:

Combinations, increases and uplifts calculated by End Fuel Poverty Coalition

[2] ​​

Average household bills under Ofgem Price Cap (*) and Energy Price Guarantee (**). All financial numbers quoted are in GBP. “Average household (hh)” Average hh increase Those hh getting max Govt support, average hh rate Those hh getting max Govt support, % increase
Oct-21* 1277 1277
Apr-22* 1971 54.35% 1571 23.02%
Oct-22** 2100 6.54% 1700 8.21%
Apr-23** 2500 19.05% 2500 47.06%
Increase Winter 2021/22 to Summer 2023 96% 96%
Increase Winter 2021/22 to Winter 2022/23 64% 33%

[3] Asthma + Lung UK internal figures. Comparison August 2021 to August 2022. Website traffic on these topics also surged year-on-year by 63%.

Mini-Budget minimal on help for those in fuel poverty

As the Chancellor unveiled his mini-Budget, there was little immediate support for households in fuel poverty. However, some positive moves on energy efficiency and renewables have been given a qualified welcomed by campaigners.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition commented:

The Chancellor’s mini-Budget was especially minimal on the support needed to keep people warm this winter.

Even with the measures pledged by the Government so far, there is now just a week to go until energy bills increase by 64% compared to last winter.

The start of the Chancellor’s ‘new era’ will see 7 million households left facing desperate fuel poverty this winter.

Millions of people will spend the winter struggling in cold damp homes. This will cause health problems for many and place more strain on the NHS and social care system.

Millions will face additional hardship due to the unfair standing charges regime and being forced onto more expensive pre-payment meters.

Hidden away in the small print of the Chancellor’s Plan for Growth is an announcement to expand the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) – which requires energy companies to install energy saving measures in fuel poor homes – with a £1bn boost over three years, starting from next April.

The new funding will be targeted at those most vulnerable, and made available for the least efficient homes in lower council tax bands. In addition, the government will also ‘imminently open applications for up to £2.1 billion over the next two years to support local authorities, housing associations, schools and hospitals invest in energy efficiency and renewable heating.’

While the ECO expansion will provide vital relief for the households that stand to benefit, alone it cannot shift the dial on the resilience of UK households to energy price shocks now or in future.

Experts at E3G estimate it is about a fifth of the amount needed to be spent on green building measures and the opportunity was missed to meet the Home Upgrade Grant Conservative manifesto pledge – which is still £1.4 billion short of what should have been committed to 2025.

Juliet Phillips, Senior Policy Advisor at E3G, commented:

The cold and leaky nature of Britain’s homes and buildings have left families sharply exposed to volatile international fossil fuel markets and spiralling energy bills.

Today’s small top-up to expand energy efficiency support is welcome step which will help cut household bills and boost the UK’s energy security.

We hope to see the government go further and faster to unleash the full potential that energy efficiency has to offer to protect UK households from future energy shocks.

Members of the Warm This Winter campaign, Possible, have also highlighted how the mini-Budget appears to have positive news for renewables with an end to the effective ban on building on-shore wind in England.

However, there was little detail on how the nation’s books will be balanced. A spokesperson for Greenpeace commented:

Failing to properly tax the obscene profits of fossil fuel giants and encouraging bankers to get richer is reckless and unfair.

Rather than seeking to deregulate and attack those on benefits, the new Chancellor should be looking for ways to raise taxes on those profiting from the crisis.

This could help fund emergency support for households, and cover the vital investment needed in home insulation to help cut our energy bills and climate emissions once and for all.

Ministers are ignoring common-sense, win-win solutions to bring down bills and carbon emissions – things like stopping energy waste, heat-pumps and solar panels.

Instead of boosting the economy through investments in green infrastructure, public services and skills training, the government’s plan is little more than a charter for fossil fuel profits and casino capitalism.

Earlier this week, Age UK analysis found that from October 2022, around three in ten older households in England will be living in fuel poverty, including 1.3m lower income older households.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, commented:

Our new analysis shows that the Government’s relief package will not do enough to prevent approaching two million more pensioners from being plunged into fuel poverty in a couple of weeks’ time.

Most worrying of all, in excess of half a million of them are already living on lower incomes, so they will be in an impossible position financially, unless the Government does more to help.

However hard they try their income is not going to stretch far enough to cover the essentials any more.

Can you imagine how terrifying this prospect is if you are an older person on a low fixed income who has just about managed so far? Once they realise what a deep financial hole they are about to be in our biggest concern is that some will cut their spending to such a degree that it puts them at risk.

The Chartered Institute of Housing has also recently written to the Prime Minister for urgent government action to:

  • Bring forward the planned uprating of benefits from next April to this October
  • Limit deductions from Universal Credit for prior overpayments/sanctions
  • Remove the benefit cap and two-child limit
  • Restore local housing allowance rates to at least the 30th percentile and return to annual uprating
  • Prevent energy companies from forcibly switching customers to prepayment meters
  • Commit to bring forward additional funding for energy efficiency measures in homes


The average household bill in winter 2021/22 was GBP1277. This has increased to GBP2,100 for winter 2022/23, taking into account the support promised so far. For some of the most vulnerable households, the increase will be limited to an average household bill of GBP1,700 this winter – still representing a 33% increase year-on-year. Please note, the Energy Price Guarantee caps the unit cost of energy, not the total bill.

In winter 2021/22, the End Fuel Poverty Coalition estimates 4.6m UK households were in fuel poverty (based on official definitions). This will rise to 6.99m in winter 2022/23.

Chancellor in last chance saloon to fix UK’s broken energy system

Campaigners from Warm this Winter are urging the Chancellor to back real measures to fix the UK’s energy system, with a rally outside Parliament timed to coincide with the ‘mini-budget’.

Despite the UK Government’s Energy Price Guarantee, it is estimated that 7 million households – over 16 million people – across the UK will still be in fuel poverty this winter.

As well as more targeted support on bills, the coalition is calling for a coherent plan to reduce energy costs permanently through a national rollout of home insulation and a massive acceleration of renewable energy, which is now nine times cheaper than UK gas.

As the Chancellor has previously conceded, doubling down on domestic gas production, whether in the North Sea or fracking, will not lower bills.

On Friday, MPs are being invited to find out more about the campaign’s demands at an event being held in Portcullis House.

This week, more than 70 organisations called for more measures to improve energy efficiency. From energy firms to climate campaigners and from charities to professional bodies, the groups all urged the Chancellor to take action to help people keep their homes warm.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition said:

This is the last chance saloon for the Chancellor to provide the support needed by 7 million households to stay warm this winter.

Without this help millions will face the winter struggling in cold damp homes. This will cause health problems for many and place more strain on the NHS and social care system.

We need to see additional short-term measures to provide additional financial help to the most vulnerable.

But we also need to see the Chancellor investing in ending fuel poverty for good.

This can only be done by increasing support for improving the energy efficiency of people’s homes and backing Britain’s generation of cheap and clean renewable energy.

Alethea Warrington, campaigns manager at climate charity Possible, said:

The government has the chance to end the energy crisis and get the UK off gas for good. Onshore wind is now ten times cheaper than gas power, but new wind projects are still blocked in England despite being extremely popular.

A real plan for growth would tax the grotesque profits of fossil fuel companies rather than handing them hundreds of millions of pounds of our money. Then the government should get on with delivering cheap renewable energy and warmer homes.

Tessa Khan, director of Uplift, which campaigns for a just transition away from fossil fuels, said:

In every constituency across the country, many households and businesses are looking at their energy bills with dread, even with this government support, knowing that this situation is unsustainable.

We urge MPs to push for measures that will help people this winter and make sure the country is in a better position in winters to come.

Even if it were possible, more domestic gas won’t lower bills. All it will do is increase industry profits and lock us into an unaffordable energy source for longer than necessary.

Warm this Winter is a new campaign demanding the government acts now to help tackle rising energy bills this winter and to ensure energy is affordable for everyone in the future. It is supported by leading anti-poverty and environmental organisations.

Its demands of government are:

  1. Emergency support now: Provide a new package of financial support to people who, without additional urgent action, will be on the front-line of poverty this winter.
  2. Help to upgrade homes: Launch a properly-funded programme of home upgrades and insulation across the UK to bring down bills and prevent energy waste.
  3. Cheap energy: More than triple the amount of renewable energy in the UK by 2030, including wind and solar generated in harmony with nature, so that we can permanently lower bills.
  4. Free us from oil and gas: Stop opening up new oil and gas fields so that we can escape our dependence on volatile fossil fuels.

Notes to editors

[1] Members of the Warm this Winter coalition will stage a ‘mini-rally’ in Parliament Square from 12.30-1.30pm, when there will be an opportunity for photographs.

There will also be a drop-in for MPs in Room P, Portcullis House from 10-12pm, where will MPs will be able to be introduced to and able to ask questions about the campaign.