Energy bills crisis demands Emergency Budget

Campaigners have urged the Government to deliver an emergency budget to address the cost of living crisis facing the country.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition has made the call as Ofgem projections firmed up the nightmare scenario of further energy bill rises this winter. [1]

With the number of homes in fuel poverty expected to surge to 43% by this winter, campaigners have warned only an emergency budget will solve the crisis gripping the country. [2]

A household that was paying GBP1,000 for their energy bills in October 2020 could soon be paying almost three-times that. And with inflationary pressures also affecting food prices, the outlook is bleak.

If fuel poverty levels hit the limits predicted, the End Fuel Poverty Coalition estimates that thousands of additional winter deaths will take place due to cold homes in 2022/23 – mainly among the elderly and vulnerable. [3]

To avoid the predicted disaster, the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, has called on the Chancellor to deliver an emergency budget consisting of:

  • A 50% Windfall Tax on all Energy Production Firms Profits yielding revenue well in excess of GBP20bn, this may have to be levied every year until the Price Cap returns to a more affordable rate or the market is reformed. [4]
  • An annual Anti-Fuel Poverty Payment (AFPP) of GBP1,800 to the lowest income households, including those newly facing fuel poverty this winter. [5]
  • A one off £20,000 investment in each of the fuel poor households in the UK that are dependent on oil, LPG or coal for heating to improve their homes so they are well insulated and using a cheaper, less-polluting fuel – heat pump or new night storage heaters.
  • In future years, any excess revenue generated by the Windfall Tax could raise additional funding for the Emergency Hardship Funds available to local authorities and charitable organisations working with vulnerable groups to deploy.

In addition to the Windfall Tax, the Government must urgently fulfil the promises made in its 2019 Conservative party election manifesto that would help lower energy bills by investing £9.2bn in the energy efficiency of homes, schools and hospitals in England, including £2.5bn for the Home Upgrade Grant Scheme. To date, less than half of the Government’s 2019 manifesto pledges on fuel poverty have been committed. 

The Coalition has also urged BEIS to launch a fundamental review of the UK Energy Market to address concerns which will persist even after the emergency financial measures suggested. This review should consider alternative proposals put forward by campaigners such as the idea of “social tariffs” or a state-funded energy allowance for all.

For example, the average unit of gas has been sold up to 22 times before it gets to customers’ meters, meaning several private firms all making fuel bills that much higher. Consumers have also been required to bail out the costs of 31 companies going bankrupt as a result of Ofgem’s inadequate regulation. [6]

Dr Brenda Boardman, Emeritus Fellow, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, commented:

The injustice of it all is just incredible. We desperately need an energy market that is designed around the needs of the consumers, not the needs of the suppliers. This is, after all, a basic necessity, that is ultimately about life and death, as well as comfort, good health and child development.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition added:

Previous measures implemented by the Government to tackle fuel poverty do not scratch the surface and the majority of the help has gone to all households, not necessarily those in fuel poverty specifically. Significant sums have also been spent on the petrol and diesel rebate, which goes to better-off households, who own cars and drive the most.

Only an emergency budget will ensure the measures can be introduced to tackle the cost of living crisis.

Ruth London from Fuel Poverty Action commented:

With over 40% of UK households in or heading for fuel poverty, we need more than pitiful handouts to prevent a widespread health crisis, miserable children, and more deaths. The energy system should be turned on its head to ensure we pay less per unit if we use less energy – not more. Ofgem has loaded the costs of failing suppliers onto the standing charge – the part of the bill we  can’t escape no matter how much we cut down. The injustice of this charge must be urgently reversed, as a first step towards #EnergyForAll. Energy security begins at home.

William Baker from Solutions to Tackle Energy Poverty (STEP) commented:

We are facing a humanitarian crisis this winter unless the Government takes immediate action to ensure low income households can afford their fuel. It must also embark on an ambitious programme to reduce energy demand by insulating our homes; such a programme will reduce fuel poverty, improve energy security, reduce pressure on our health services and give a much needed boost to the economy.  

Tamara Sandoul from Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) commented:

Another big rise in the cost of energy will have serious consequences for people’s health and wellbeing. Living in cold homes will hit the most vulnerable hardest – the elderly, those on low incomes, children and those with existing health conditions. The Government needs to act quickly to protect the most vulnerable in our society from the effects of this unprecedented rise in the cost of energy and the cost of living.

Jo Gilbert from CUBES (Customer Utility Bills Expertly Serviced) commented:

When thousands of death’s were predicted due to the Covid-19 pandemic the government stepped in and took measures to safeguard the vulnerable. We are now in a very real ‘Poverty Pandemic’ and thousands of people will freeze and die from cold related illness. The government must take immediate action, as they did with covid-19 to prevent this humanitarian crisis from emerging more than it already has.

Jacky Peacock, Head of Policy at Advice for Renters commented,

The 450,000 private renters who emerged from the pandemic with arrears of rent. now face unaffordable fuel bills.  Without decisive action now, we will see an explosion of evictions and homelessness with a cost to the public purse in excess of the measures to reduce fuel poverty being proposed by the End Fuel Poverty Coalition.


[1] Ofgem has suggested that the price rise will be an additional GBP829, taking the price cap to GBP2800 – an additional increase in bills of 42%.

[2] The rise in bills will result in an additional number of households in fuel poverty. According to Ofgem across the UK 12m households will be in fuel poverty this winter, 43% of the 28.1m households.

[3] Overall the End Fuel Poverty Coalition and National Energy Action estimate that based on a five year average, between 8,000 to 10,000 people across the United Kingdom die prematurely during the winter due to the impact of cold homes.  This is based on World Health Organisation modelling that at least 30% of Excess Winter Deaths are attributable to a cold home.

In 2019 there were 3.1m households in fuel poverty in England (official Government figures) and the average winter deaths mid-point would have been 9,000 (i.e. 0.3% of fuel poor homes are likely to have registered a “excess winter death”). If the numbers of fuel poor increase to the levels predicted, so could the numbers of people who die as a result of cold homes. If the figures of excess winter deaths remained proportionate to the levels of people in fuel poverty, this could see 22,500 excess winter deaths, pro rata. However, this assumption will need to be tested and checked against official figures in winter 2022/23 so is only for illustrative purposes.

[4] GBP20bn would be raised from Shell and BP alone, based solely on their 2020-21 profits. In the last quarter, their profits were even higher.

[5] GBP1800 based on the difference between the Ofgem prediction for winter 2022/23 and GBP1,000 cap which was more manageable for those in fuel poverty. This could be adjusted every year. Alternative measures have been suggested by other campaigners, such as the reversal of Universal Credit cuts or expansion of rebate schemes.

[6] “22 times” churn: (table 4, p11). Experts predict this number may have fallen slightly since the table was compiled, but the principles of the market remain.

“31 suppliers”:

Coalition condemns utterly devastating price rises

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, has commented on Ofgem’s estimates that the price cap will increase to £2,800 from 1 October 2022 and predictions that 12m households could be in fuel poverty across the UK this winter.

This news will be utterly devastating for millions of homes currently in fuel poverty – and for millions more households who will now spend this winter struggling to keep themselves warm.

Fuel poverty becomes a public health emergency in winter and the hidden cost of the UK Government’s continued inaction will be felt in a collapse in the mental health of those in fuel poverty, increased pressure on the NHS from those with health conditions affected by damp properties and excess winter deaths caused by cold homes.

Unless the Government acts now, it will have blood on its hands this winter.

The Government must urgently impose a windfall tax on energy production firms to help those most in need, invest in a Great Homes Upgrade to improve energy efficiency of buildings and deliver a renewable-led secure energy infrastructure.

James Taylor, Executive Director of Strategy at disability equality charity Scope which are members of the Coalition, said:

The impact of the price cap rising by £1,500 in a year will be horrific. Many disabled people are already forced to commit a large amount of their income to energy costs.

Disabled people often rely on energy intensive equipment like electric wheelchairs, electric hoists, or monitors.

We’ve heard from disabled people who must choose between charging vital equipment and heating their home. Others are going without food so that their children can eat.

Our Disability Energy Support service has been inundated by disabled people in crisis with nowhere else to turn.

Disabled people cannot wait any longer for Government intervention. We need to see benefits rise in line with inflation, disabled people included in any expansion of the Warm Home Discount and a further increase in funding to the Household Support Fund.

In comments on Twitter, National Energy Action also described the proposed increases as catastrophic.

Constituencies with highest levels of fuel poverty revealed

The constituencies with the highest levels of fuel poverty have been revealed in a new league table from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition published today.

Over 6.3m homes will be in fuel poverty from tomorrow morning (1 April 2022), following the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, which did little to help end the misery of fuel poverty.

The Coalition has launched a campaign to help people in fuel poverty easily contact their MP on Twitter. Simply tweet your MP today using this easy link: A petition by National Energy Action has also been launched.

The 10% of constituencies most affected by fuel poverty are mainly urban areas represented by Labour MPs.

But in Stoke-on-Trent Central, Wolverhampton North East, Walsall North, Stoke-on-Trent North, West Bromwich East, West Bromwich West, Stoke-on-Trent South, Birmingham Northfied, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Dudley North and Great Grimbsy, Tory MPs represent over 178,000 households which will be in fuel poverty.

An End Fuel Poverty spokesperson commented:

Constituents will rightly be asking what MPs are doing to help end fuel poverty and the energy bills crisis gripping the country.

End Fuel Poverty Coalition members have called for urgent help for households in fuel poverty now combined with a long-term plan to improve energy efficiency of our homes and investment in a sustainable, renewable-led, energy mix.

Sadly, none of these things were delivered in the recent Spring Statement and the Chancellor has once again ignored those in fuel poverty – including the 14,000 homes in his own constituency.

MPs must demand Rishi Sunak comes back to Parliament at the earliest opportunity and sets out how the Government will help those who will continue to suffer.

Meanwhile, the Energy Saving Trust has provided advice on how households can reduce energy bills.

The organisation suggests that making several small and swift changes, such as turning devices off standby and reducing daily water usage, could enable many people to offset the increase in costs by around a third.

While more support for those in fuel poverty will be needed, for those that are able – or able to access financial support to future-proof their homes – investing in energy efficiency can yield results.

Professional draught-proofing and insulation in preparation for the winter months could lead to a reduction in bills by £405 a year for a semi-detached home. Installing solar panels for a similar property could lead to additional annual savings of around £450 a year.

The full league table of constituencies by fuel poverty is below:

Fuel Poverty by Parliamentary Constituency, 2019 (Official BEIS figures) Fuel Poverty by Parliamentary Constituency, from 1 April 2022 (End Fuel Poverty Coalition estimates)
Parliamentary Constituency Number of households in fuel poverty (2019) Proportion of households fuel poor (%, 2019) Number of households in fuel poverty (from 1 April 2022) Proportion of households fuel poor (% from 1 April 2022) MP Name MP Surname MP Party
Birmingham Hodge Hill                  11,575                      27.4            23,041 54.5% Liam Byrne Labour
Barking                  11,580                      24.0            23,051 47.7% Margaret Hodge Labour
Stoke-on-Trent Central                    9,275                      23.7            18,463 47.3% Jo Gideon Conservative
Wolverhampton South East                    8,956                      23.7            17,828 47.1% Pat McFadden Labour
Walthamstow                  10,479                      23.7            20,859 47.1% Stella Creasy Labour/Co-operative
Birmingham Yardley                  10,405                      23.5            20,712 46.7% Jess Phillips Labour
Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough                  10,778                      23.2            21,454 46.2% Gill Furniss Labour
Warley                    8,775                      23.2            17,467 46.2% John Spellar Labour
Birmingham Ladywood                  11,770                      23.1            23,429 46.0% Shabana Mahmood Labour
Manchester Gorton                    9,680                      22.8            19,269 45.5% Afzal Khan Labour
Birmingham Erdington                  10,006                      22.8            19,918 45.5% Paulette Hamilton Labour
Birmingham Perry Barr                    9,248                      22.8            18,409 45.3% Khalid Mahmood Labour
Birmingham Hall Green                    9,550                      22.7            19,010 45.2% Tahir Ali Labour
Bradford West                    8,829                      22.4            17,575 44.6% Naseem Shah Labour
East Ham                  10,819                      22.0            21,536 43.7% Stephen Timms Labour
Bradford East                    9,406                      21.9            18,723 43.7% Imran Hussain Labour
Tottenham                  11,347                      21.8            22,587 43.4% David Lammy Labour
Wolverhampton North East                    8,531                      21.8            16,982 43.4% Jane Stevenson Conservative
Walsall South                    8,688                      21.8            17,294 43.3% Valerie Vaz Labour
Walsall North                    8,852                      21.7            17,621 43.2% Eddie Hughes Conservative
Leeds East                    9,064                      21.6            18,043 43.0% Richard Burgon Labour
West Ham                  12,750                      21.5            25,380 42.8% Lyn Brown Labour
Kingston upon Hull North                    8,932                      21.3            17,780 42.4% Diana R. Johnson Labour
Stoke-on-Trent North                    9,346                      21.1            18,604 41.9% Jonathan Gullis Conservative
Birmingham Selly Oak                    9,210                      20.9            18,333 41.6% Steve McCabe Labour
Leeds Central                  12,738                      20.9            25,356 41.6% Hilary Benn Labour
Edmonton                    9,171                      20.7            18,255 41.3% Kate Osamor Labour/Co-operative
Sheffield Central                    9,838                      20.5            19,583 40.8% Paul Blomfield Labour
Coventry North East                    9,653                      20.4            19,215 40.7% Colleen Fletcher Labour
Croydon North                  11,643                      20.4            23,176 40.7% Steve Reed Labour/Co-operative
West Bromwich East                    7,569                      20.3            15,067 40.5% Nicola Richards Conservative
Leyton and Wanstead                    8,465                      20.3            16,850 40.3% John Cryer Labour
Nottingham East                    9,094                      20.1            18,102 40.1% Nadia Whittome Labour
Rotherham                    7,976                      20.0            15,877 39.9% Sarah Champion Labour
West Bromwich West                    7,623                      20.0            15,174 39.8% Shaun Bailey Conservative
Nottingham North                    8,892                      19.9            17,700 39.6% Alex Norris Labour/Co-operative
Stoke-on-Trent South                    8,090                      19.7            16,104 39.3% Jack Brereton Conservative
Barnsley East                    8,158                      19.7            16,239 39.1% Stephanie Peacock Labour
Manchester Withington                    8,458                      19.6            16,836 39.1% Jeff Smith Labour
Doncaster North                    8,647                      19.6            17,212 39.1% Ed Miliband Labour
Leicester West                    8,667                      19.5            17,252 38.8% Liz Kendall Labour
Liverpool Walton                    8,403                      19.4            16,727 38.6% Dan Carden Labour
Brent Central                  10,324                      19.4            20,551 38.5% Dawn Butler Labour
Blackley and Broughton                    9,219                      19.2            18,351 38.3% Graham Stringer Labour
Birmingham Northfield                    8,805                      19.1            17,527 38.0% Gary Sambrook Conservative
Lewisham East                    8,633                      19.0            17,185 37.9% Janet Daby Labour
Liverpool Wavertree                    8,035                      19.0            15,994 37.7% Paula Barker Labour
Bradford South                    8,227                      19.0            16,376 37.7% Judith Cummins Labour
Middlesbrough                    7,664                      18.9            15,256 37.6% Andy McDonald Labour
Newcastle-under-Lyme                    7,619                      18.9            15,166 37.5% Aaron Bell Conservative
Leeds West                    8,266                      18.8            16,454 37.5% Rachel Reeves Labour
Birmingham Edgbaston                    7,995                      18.8            15,915 37.4% Preet Kaur Gill Labour/Co-operative
Dudley North                    6,661                      18.8            13,259 37.4% Marco Longhi Conservative
Leicester South                    8,792                      18.8            17,501 37.4% Jon Ashworth Labour
Leicester East                    7,659                      18.6            15,246 37.1% Claudia Webbe Independent
Liverpool Riverside                  10,201                      18.5            20,306 36.9% Kim Johnson Labour
Kingston upon Hull East                    7,898                      18.5            15,722 36.9% Karl Turner Labour
Huddersfield                    7,954                      18.5            15,833 36.8% Barry Sheerman Labour/Co-operative
Newcastle upon Tyne East                    7,693                      18.5            15,313 36.7% Nick Brown Labour
Coventry South                    8,221                      18.4            16,364 36.7% Zarah Sultana Labour
Barnsley Central                    7,384                      18.3            14,698 36.5% Dan Jarvis Labour
Great Grimsby                    7,523                      18.3            14,975 36.4% Lia Nici Conservative
Mitcham and Morden                    7,580                      18.2            15,089 36.2% Siobhain McDonagh Labour


Image: Shutterstock

Children set to suffer as energy bills rocket

Sky News has exclusively revealed  new End Fuel Poverty Coalition calculations that show the impact of the energy bills crisis on households with children.

Figures predict that recent rises in energy bills will take the number of households with children in fuel poverty to over 2.5m from 1 April 2022.

The figure exceeds previous calculations and represents the number of children in fuel poverty doubling since 2019.

As a percentage of all households with children, this will rise from 19.4% in fuel poverty in 2019 to an estimated 38.6% after the next Ofgem Price Cap increase which comes in on 1 April 2022.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition predicts that over half (55.7%) of lone-parent households (855,938) will be in fuel poverty from 1 April 2022. The figure is 33.4% for couples with dependent children (1.69m).

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition told Sky News, which first reported on the figures:

The stark reality of life under the Government’s energy bill crisis is clear to see. Among the worst affected will be the most vulnerable, including children.

Expert studies show that living in fuel poverty can have a detrimental impact on children’s health, well-being and even their ability to learn.

The measures already announced by the Government hardly scratch the surface of the support needed.

We need to see a full package of measures to help those in fuel poverty now alongside urgent work to improve the energy efficiency of buildings and move the country to a secure, sustainable, non-fossil fuel based energy supply.

Public Health England report found that cold homes and poor housing conditions have been linked with a range of health problems in children. And a Childhood Trust report found that fuel poverty can also have a number of indirect impacts, such as lower rates of educational attainment in school, and a strain upon young people’s mental health.

Recently, the British Medical Journal reported:

Children growing up in cold, damp, and mouldy homes with inadequate ventilation have higher than average rates of respiratory infections and asthma, chronic ill health, and disability. They are also more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and slower physical growth and cognitive development.

Dan Paskins, Director of UK Impact at Save the Children, commented:

It is deeply worrying that the number of families in fuel poverty is set to double this spring. These figures show that this year, a child in a single parent family is more likely to experience fuel poverty than not. That simply can’t be right and the UK government must do more to protect families.

We’re already seeing families having to make impossible choices between heating their homes and feeding their children, and parents we work with say they just don’t know what they’re going to cut back on next. A further increase in energy bills will leave even more children living in cold and damp homes, going to bed hungry, and missing out on the opportunities they need to grow and thrive.

The best way of supporting families through this crisis is by making sure benefits keep up with rising costs – but right now, they’re on track for a real terms cut. The UK government must act to support families and make sure benefits increase in line with inflation.

Image: Shutterstock

Global demand to end fossil fuel addiction feeding Putin’s war machine

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition has joined hundreds of organisations from dozens of countries in expressing solidarity with the Ukrainian people in a collective call on world governments to end fossil fuel production.

The current crisis sees Putin weaponising oil and gas money to threaten livelihoods and fuel terror with escalating violence, underscoring the fossil fuel system’s role in driving conflict.

This war is a fight for Ukrainians’ own freedom, but more broadly, a fight for self-determination worldwide.

The letter — initiated by a dozen Ukrainian climate organisations — recognises that this war is a “grave violation of human rights, international law and global peace” fuelled by the oil and gas money that powers Putin’s war machine.

40% of Russia’s federal budget comes from oil and gas, which also make up 60% of Russia’s exports.

The letter urges governments to use all nonviolent means necessary to stop Putin and his war machine, restore peace, and end this egregious murderous aggression.

Governments must work together to manage transition to a clean and safe renewable energy in a way that is fast and fair.

This also means stopping all trade and ending investment in Gazprom, Rosneft, Transneft, Surgutneftegas, LukOil, Russian Coal and others, seeing a cease to all financial services for Russian energy companies operating in the coal, oil and gas sectors.

Commenting on the crisis, a spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, said:

The invasion of Ukraine is an obscene act of terror by the Russian state.

Our Members have been warning for years that fuel poverty is a social justice crisis, a public health emergency and a national security priority, but the UK Government took little action.

And the solution to fuel poverty does not lie in fossil fuels.

We now need urgent help for households in fuel poverty now combined with a long-term plan to improve energy efficiency of our homes and a sustainable, renewable-led, energy mix.

While any further rises to already sky high energy bills are a huge concern to the millions of people facing fuel poverty, any attempts to push all the responsibility for the energy bills crisis onto the Russian invasion does not give the whole picture.

Any pain which is suffered by the British public as a result of increased energy prices is a political decision by the UK Government.

The Government has talked about this for long enough, but fails to match words with action – the Chancellor’s attempt to provide support for people through a “loans dressed up as grants” scheme is a prime example of this.

Coalition reacts to “sky-rocketing” energy prices and “woeful” Government response

Members of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition have been reacting to news of the latest energy price hikes and subsequent Government efforts to partially offset the consequences.

The latest estimates from the End Fuel Poverty Coalition predict that 6.3m households are expected to be in fuel poverty from 1 April 2022 – an increase of 2.1m on previous estimates which took account of the last Ofgem price rise in October 2021.

In addition, a group of civil society organisations have issued a united call for the Government to take further immediate action and a national protest is due to take place in London on Saturday.

Tamara Sandoul, Policy and Campaigns Manager, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health:

This has already been a difficult Winter for many households across the UK, with a cocktail effect of higher inflation and higher energy prices. This huge rise in the cost of energy will push many more people into fuel poverty and could put them at risk of health conditions caused by living in a cold home.

The Government also needs a long-term investment strategy into retrofitting homes to make these much more energy efficient and work to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels going forward.

William Baker from Solutions to Tackle Energy Poverty:

This announcement couldn’t come at a worse time. It coincides with a substantial increase to National Insurance, will inevitably exacerbate the cost of living crisis many low income households are facing and will increase reliance on food banks and fuel vouchers – already at record levels. We need a comprehensive package of Government support to both address high energy prices and improve the energy efficiency standards of our homes.

Connor Schwartz, climate lead at Friends of the Earth:

The skyrocketing price of gas will now push people into precarious financial positions, and spells disaster for those already struggling to meet the rising cost of heating their home. The government must ensure sufficient support for anyone already finding it hard, or who are at imminent risk, from these hikes.

We need to address the root cause and that means ending the cause of the crisis: reliance on gas. No mistake, this will be a year-on-year problem unless the government is radical now. The best time to invest in renewables and roll out a huge home insulation programme was 20 years ago, governments didn’t do it then, the next best time is right now.

 Mike Thornton, chief executive, Energy Saving Trust:

We know the additional increase to the energy price cap, alongside higher living costs, will be extremely worrying for people across Britain. With the number of households who find themselves in fuel poverty expected to rise, Government must expand on emergency measures to support those most in need.

As well as the need for immediate action and short-term support, the current crisis emphasises the importance of improving the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock in the long-term. Alongside this, we need to invest significantly in renewable energy – including low carbon heating.  Energy efficiency and more renewables are the best ways to protect everybody against volatile gas prices and rising bills in the long-term.

Tackling the current energy crisis must also go hand in hand with meeting net zero ambitions. Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels will minimise our exposure to the volatility of the global energy market and shape a greener and more affordable energy future. Alongside many other mission-led organisations, we’re asking for committed Government investment and clear action plans to scale up home insulation and renewable energy so we can be less reliant on gas in the future.

Fuel Poverty Action co-director Ruth London:

The energy market as it stands is not fit for purpose – it does not give people the energy they need to keep healthy, or the security to plan for the future in difficult times.

We’re asking that the government to introduce “Energy for All” – a universal, free amount of energy to cover people’s basic costs like heating, cooking, and lighting.

This would give us all the security we need, taking account of people’s actual needs according to their age, health, and housing.

Adam Scorer, Chief Executive of National Energy Action (NEA): 

These energy crisis measures are woefully inadequate and will leave those on the lowest incomes and in the least efficient homes in deep peril. 

Government had an exam question: How to protect the most vulnerable from a devastating rise in the cost of energy? While their plans are not without merit, they fail this test by turning away from targeted measures to help the poorest energy consumers. 

We needed deep, targeted support for the most vulnerable. We have shallow, broad measures for all. That simply does not work.

The depth of support is not proportionate to the increases. A household paying by prepayment will still have a £500 increase when you take into account rises from October 2021 and April 2022. 

The rebates on Bills and Council tax are not sufficiently targeted, too small and too complex.

We expect the government will have no choice but to return to the issue of spiralling fuel poverty and another price rise later this year. By then they’ll be playing catch-up and great harm will already have been done.

Ian Preston, director of household energy at the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE):

People are frightened of getting into debt. Someone we support on our advice line contacted us this morning to say they wouldn’t be able to put the heating on anymore. This is going to be the case for millions of people across the country.

We’ve calculated that this energy price increase each month is about the same as a low-income household would spend on groceries in a week. So to pay for the increase is essentially the same as asking them to go without food for a week every month.

We need to literally insulate people from the impact of future energy price increases! If we insulate our homes and buildings well, they’ll become more energy-efficient – there’s a range of measures available for different budgets and we can support people with finding grants.

Members also took to Twitter to express their concerns:

Catastrophic rise in energy prices will not be offset by Government plans

Over 1m more homes in England could be forced into fuel poverty following the latest Government energy cap price rise, despite Government plans announced today.

The End Fuel Poverty Coalition predictions come as Ofgem confirmed that the average cost of heating a home will rise from GBP1,277 a year to GBP1,971 – a 54% increase.

The Government has pledged a series of measures to try and support homes in fuel poverty, but campaigners have warned these do not go far enough to offset the rises in energy prices over the last few years. The Chancellor claimed this would be worth GBP350. However, much of this will be repaid through a “heat now, pay later” scheme.

Even taking into account the Government’s promised support, the latest price cap rise will still be 27% – the biggest rise since records began.

It is estimated by the End Fuel Poverty Coalition that this will plunge an additional 1.1m homes into fuel poverty, taking the total now in fuel poverty to 22% of all households in England (c.12.5m people). The final total may be higher due and closer to 26% of all households, due to the “heat now, pay later” nature of Government support.

Since it was introduced in 2017, energy bills have risen 52%, with rises of almost GBP600 (GBP578) being passed onto consumers in the last year alone.

A spokesperson for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, commented:

Today’s catastrophic price cap rise will force hundreds of thousands more households into fuel poverty from April.

The Government’s proposals for support will do little but offset or defer part of the most recent rise.

The reality is that fuel poverty has been increasing at an exponential rate and only a full package to support people – especially the most vulnerable – will be sufficient in the short term.

Longer term, the Government must come good on its promises to help transform housing into safe, warm, energy efficient homes.

Juliet Phillips, Senior Policy Advisor at E3G:

The UK’s exposure to volatile gas markets is fuelling a cost-of-living crisis. While today’s announcements take some edge off the burn, further targeted support for the most vulnerable households is urgently needed to prevent catastrophic outcomes.

Furthermore, without a long-term plan to reduce demand for fossil gas, emergency measures can only act as a sticking plaster. We must also start now towards building a greener, fairer and resilient system as the only long-term solution for preventing future gas crises.

Reaction from other members of the Coalition will follow.

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