Yesterday, charities called for more help to keep the elderly and vulnerable warm this winter. Critical energy industries also had crisis talks with Secretary of Business Kwasi Kwarteng. Experts say bills could rise by £ 800 to £ 2,000 a year. The energy price cap rose to £ 1,277 a year on October 1 and regulator Ofgem warned of another sharp rise in April. Domestic customers who have lost fixed-term contracts due to the bankruptcy of their suppliers are expected to suffer particularly.
Ofgem CEO Jonathan Brearley said below: “The wholesale market has had extremely rapid ups and downs, so we can’t fully predict what that will be. But looking at the costs of the system, we expect a significant increase in April. “
UK gas prices hit an all-time high earlier this week after rising dramatically since the start of the year. Low levels of stored gas have left the UK more exposed to price volatility than some other countries. Support is available for OAPs and vulnerable people, including up to £ 300 in winter fuel payments and £ 140 off electricity bills as part of the warm house rebate.
But activists have asked for more money, as official figures show around 13% of English households – 3.18 million – were fuel poor in 2019. Charities say more than four million payers of bills are struggling and that number could reach 1.5 million if the price cap increases. from £ 400 to £ 600 per year.
Adam Scorer of National Energy Action said: “The impact on health, finances and quality of life could be catastrophic. We want Ofgem to ensure that vulnerable consumers are not put at risk if their supplier fails, and that businesses provide deeper protection for low-income consumers. The central government must also provide more direct financial support, such as increasing the rebate for warm houses or extending winter fuel payments.
Ruth London, of Fuel Poverty Action, said: “Even before these price increases and the pandemic, around 10,000 people have died each winter in the UK because they could not afford to heat their homes. Now, the rising cost of fuel, low wages, and reduced universal credit will cause far more death and misery for retirees, children and everyone in between. “
Who? Adam French, a consumer rights expert, said customers who always get cheaper deals should stay with them during the winter, when bills are higher. But he said it might be worth considering a more expensive flat rate ahead of the April changes to guard against future increases.
Consumer expert Scott Dixon called Ofgem a “toothless watchdog,” saying: “New entrants to the energy market have never been properly screened and business models have not been subjected to scrutiny. meticulous examination “.
Eco-entrepreneur DaleVince said many small vendors now collapsed had “bet on future prices and lost.” He said: “They shouldn’t have been allowed to enter the market and treat it like a casino. It’s on Ofgem. But as the price cap hikes, that change will come after the damage is done. It shouldn’t have taken this disaster for us to have a common sense regulation. “
Alex Belsham-Harris of Citizens Advice said the April energy price cap hike would be a “hammer blow” to many. He added: “The government needs to urgently plan to support people with even higher energy bills next year. “
Industries such as chemicals, paper and glass warned of a production slowdown when the energy-intensive user group met with Kwarteng. Group Chairman Richard Leese said: “We will work with the government to avoid threats, both to the production of essential domestic and industrial products and to a wide range of supply chains critical to our economy and to the rise in power.”
Comment from Caroline Abrahams
High energy prices, cold homes and poor health often make winter a difficult time for many seniors. More than ever, this year poses a particular challenge with the rise in household bills.
It is essential that older people do not ration their energy consumption and put their health at risk. The cold can make conditions like arthritis, MS, and heart disease worse and make breathing problems worse.
There is support for the elderly, such as the Warm
Home shed and winter fuel payments, but these still only help at a fraction of the cost.
The government has announced £ 500million to be distributed to councils through the Household Support Fund. It is vital that these grants help those who struggle to pay and those most affected by the cold. With the end of holidays and the increase in universal credit, many families will seek additional help,
Longer term, we need to see a lot more investment to make our homes warmer and more energy efficient: the best way to avoid future fuel crises.
If you’re struggling to meet your energy bills or owe your supplier money, ask them for more time to pay. You can also call the Age UK counseling line free of charge on 0800 169 6565 or visit ageuk.org.uk/money for free information.
Caroline Abrahams is Director of Charity at Age UK