UK Fuel Poverty Monitor warns households bills could double
An increase to the energy price cap next April could see the cost of heating the average home double in just over a year, fuel poverty charities have warned.
Publishing the findings of the latest UK Fuel Poverty Monitor, National Energy Action (NEA) and Energy Action Scotland (EAS) said average domestic dual fuel energy bills have already gone up by over £230 per customer compared to last winter and could rise by a further £550 a year by 2022.
Adam Scorer, chief executive of National Energy Action (NEA), said: “Every home should be a warm and safe place, but for over 4.5 million UK households the cold reality is very different and getting much worse.
“The cost of living in the UK is at its highest level in a decade with household energy bills the biggest driver. When the costs of essential services go up, those on lowest incomes get hit hardest.
“Bills have increased by well over £230 since last winter and millions now face a daily heat or eat dilemma. We estimate energy bills will rocket again in April, doubling the average householders’ heating bills since last year.
“Over the same period, those on the lowest incomes have seen their income plummet by over £1,000 per year. Just think about that. For people already on a budgetary knife-edge, the cost of keeping a family warm has exploded while budgets have collapsed. No amount of useful tips or savvy shopping can cope with that.”
Mr Scorer added: “Cold homes cause needless deaths and unnecessary physical and mental harm, impacting precious health services over the busiest winter months. Growing up cold can also permanently damage childhood development and future life chances
“The Chancellor missed a great opportunity to limit the damage in the November Budget. If the UK Government does not act decisively to help people on the lowest incomes keep their homes warm and safe, we will walk, with our eyes wide open, into a disastrous combination of problem debt, physical and mental harm and increasing numbers of avoidable winter deaths.”
To address the financial barriers facing fuel poor households, the report recommends funding to improve the energy efficiency of fuel poor homes in Scotland should increase to £522 million to 2025.
The report also found that there is a lack of clarity over the future of the Warm Home Discount and Energy Company Obligation in Scotland, leaving “uncertainty” over this key provision.
It called on the Scottish Government to consult immediately on its plans for the future of the Warm Home Discount scheme and Energy Company Obligation in Scotland.
The report comes on today’s Fuel Poverty Awareness Day which highlights the ‘cold reality’ of millions struggling to pay energy bills.
Adam Scorer concluded: “Friday 3 December is Fuel Poverty Awareness Day and we hope we see more support than ever. Like many organisations, National Energy Action offers direct support for those living in fuel poverty. We will be sharing a range of resources which we hope can get people through this winter and working with other organisations to highlight the huge amount of positive work they are doing to help people heat their homes. The good news is we, and increasing number of other organisations, know positive outcomes can be achieved if we can help keep more people warm and well in their own homes.”