Energy Crisis

When the price cap is raised in April, 1.5 million more UK households could be plunged into fuel poverty, totalling 6 million …

Across the UK, cold homes are already damaging the lives of the poorest households.

Bills are set to rocket in April. Alongside similar unprecedented increases in Northern Ireland, the GB wide hike will be a disaster for those who were already struggling to pay their bills and could leave over 6 million households in fuel poverty across the UK.

Just a few months ago, at the start of October 2021, 4 million households in the UK were in fuel poverty – struggling to afford to keep their homes warm and safe.

Then, the GB wide price cap was raised in October. Our estimates showed that another half a million households were then classed as fuel poor.

Alongside similar unprecedented increases in Northern Ireland, the GB price cap is due to be raised again. The announcement will be made on 7 February with the impact being felt from 1 April.

Our research, reported by the GuardianBBCTelegraph, Times, Channel Five, the Sun and others in January 2022 predicted that a further 1.5 million households will be in fuel poverty. That’s 6 million households in total and a 50% increase in just over six months.

A choice between heating and eating

Some experts have said that the level of the default tariff price cap for the average energy customer could reach over £2000 per year. That’s a further increase of about £700 per year. Our own estimates show that this significant rise would mean a doubling of heating costs compared to winter 2019/20.

These price increases will impact all households. But for those who were already struggling to pay their bills, it will be catastrophic. Without any additional support, millions will sink further into debt, and many will turn off the heating, leaving them at acute risk of serious ill-health and putting further unwanted strain our stretched health services.

Polling conducted by YouGov on behalf of National Energy Action shows that 6 out of 10 British households say they would reduce their heating use by a fair amount/great deal if the cost of heating doubles. Too many will have to make a desperate choice between heating and eating.

What government must do

National Energy Action believes positive steps can be taken now by the UK Government and energy regulator Ofgem to respond to the current energy crisis and support vulnerable energy customers this winter. It is hoped that these interventions will be made in advance of Ofgem announcing the next revision to the energy price cap. See our latest policy briefing here.

Some groups have suggested that the UK Government should consider removing VAT or policy costs from energy bills. National Energy Action firmly believes that the Government should take a targeted approach, softening the bill shock for the most vulnerable households before April to avoid a full-blown energy affordability crisis.

Where can I get help now?

If you or someone you know can’t afford to heat their home then we’re here to help – we offer a range of advice and support both directly to people in need, and via frontline workers and other intermediaries. For advice and support on what you can do click here. Also, contact your energy supplier. You may also be entitled to access the Local Authority Assistance Fund or Winter Fuel Support Scheme in Wales.

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