Timeline of the energy crisis

Last updated: July 2024

The energy crisis has been gripping the UK since autumn 2021, leaving millions struggling to pay for their energy bills. Here, National Energy Action has a timeline of how the energy crisis unfolded.

The energy crisis has been driven by wholesale gas price surges and the inefficiency of much of the UK’s housing stock. This has seen the number of UK households in fuel poverty hit 5.6 million as of July 2024, and has helped drive the inflation causing the cost-of-living crisis.

How did the energy crisis unfold?

1 October 2021 – the Ofgem Price Cap level is increased from £1,138 to £1,277 annually for the average household, with Ofgem citing a 50% increase in the wholesale price of gas. The number of UK households in fuel poverty rises to 4.5 million, according to National Energy Action estimates.

27 October 2021 – Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces no further support for household energy bills in Autumn Budget.

3 February 2022 – Heat now, pay later £200 energy bill support loan announced, alongside £150 council tax rebate. This is for everyone who lives in a band A to D property, while in Wales anyone in receipt of council tax reduction is also eligible, irrespective of whichever council tax band they are in. Initially, the UK Government announced it would be received in April but now some councils are saying ‘from April’.

24 February 2022 – Russia invades Ukraine, exacerbating wholesale gas price rises.

1 April 2022 – The Ofgem Price Cap increases 54% so the average household is now paying £1,971 annually. The government rules out any more support until October. National Energy Action estimates that 6.5 million households are now in fuel poverty.

26 May 2022 – Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces a series of cost of living measures:

  • The £200 rebate first announced in February will be doubled to £400 and will be a grant, which means it doesn’t need to be paid back (this is later know as the Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS)).
  • People on lowest incomes/means-tested benefits – 8 million households – will receive a one-off ‘Cost of living Payment’ of £650, totalling £5 billion, to be paid in July and Autumn directly to bank accounts.
  • Pensioners – 8 million – who are in receipt of Winter Fuel Payment will receive a one-off pensioner cost of living payment of £300.
  • Disabled people – 6 million in receipt of non-means-tested disability benefits – will receive a one-off disability payment worth £150. Many will also receive the means-tested benefits £650 payment, so a total of £800 which will offset the average price increase from October.
  • Household Support Fund will be extended by £500 million from October and there will be legislation to extend it to all devolved nations.
  • One-third of all households will benefit from the Cost of Living Payment.

3 August 2022 – Ofgem announces that the Price Cap will now be reviewed every quarter, instead of every six months.

26 August 2022 – Ofgem announces that the Price Cap will rise to £3,549 a year from 1 October, leading to calls for more support for households.

6 September 2022Liz Truss becomes Prime Minister and Kwasi Kwarteng becomes Chancellor.

8 September 2022 – The new Prime Minister announces the Energy Price Guarantee, which will commence from 1 October and will override Ofgem’s Energy Price Cap. It is set at £2,500 (annually for an average household) to last until October 2024.

1 October 2022 – The average annual household energy bill is now £2,500 as the Energy Price Guarantee comes into effect. National Energy Action estimates that 6.7 million UK households are in fuel poverty. Also, the first of the Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS) payments begin for most households.

18 October 2022 – Following the market chaos of the 23 September mini-Budget, the government announces that the Energy Price Guarantee will now only last six months, ending in April 2023. There would also be a review into targeted support after April 2023.

25 October 2022 – Rishi Sunak becomes Prime Minister and Jeremy Hunt becomes Chancellor.

16 November 2022 – The government announces changes to the Warm Home Discount which would see 500,000 households across England and Wales who were previously able to receive it will now not be eligible for this support.

17 November 2022 – In the Fiscal Statement, the Chancellor announces that the Energy Price Guarantee will now last until April 2024, but from April 2023 the level will be increased to £3,000 a year for the average household. There will be cost of living payments in 2023 to households on means-tested benefits, households with disabilities and pensioners.

1 December 2022Fuel Poverty Awareness Day 2022 – National Energy Action announces that increasing the Energy Price Guarantee to £3,000 from April 2023 (as well as the ending of the £400 Energy Bills Support Scheme) will increase the number of households in fuel poverty to 8.4 million.

15 March 2023 – In the Budget, it is announced that the Energy Price Guarantee will be kept at £2,500 from April, rather than rising to £3,000.

1 April 2023 – Energy Bills Support Scheme ends, meaning that typical households go from paying, effectively, £2,100 annually, to £2,500. National Energy Action estimates there are now 7.5 million households in fuel poverty.

23 April 2023 – Government expands scheme offering households using alternative fuels £200 in energy bills support. Called the Alternative Fuels Payment.

25 May 2023 – Ofgem announced that, from July, the typical annual energy bill will be £2,074, as the Ofgem price cap comes back into effect. This means that from July, there will be 6.6 million households in fuel poverty.

30 June 2023 – Deadline for prepayment meter customers who have not yet accessed the Energy Bills Support Scheme to get their vouchers reissued.

1 July 2023 – Energy Price Guarantee ends, because the Ofgem Price Cap is lower than it. The Price Cap means the typical annual bill is £2,074. This means 6.6 million households are in fuel poverty. The prepayment meter premium ends.

25 August 2023 – Ofgem announces the Price Cap level for winter 2023. From 1 October, the typical household will pay £1,923 a year. National Energy Action estimates this will leave 6.3 million UK households in fuel poverty.

1 October 2023 – The price cap lowers slightly, to £1,923 a year.

1 January 2024 – The price cap increases to £1,928 a year. There are changes to Ofgem’s methodology – the regulator has reduced the usage for the ‘typical household’.

1 April 2024 – The price cap lowers to £1,690, leaving an estimated 6 million UK households in fuel poverty. National Energy Action also finds that despite the price cap falling £238 a year for typical households from April, 2.3 million households are on average paying more than at the height of the crisis because of energy debt.

1 July 2024 – The price cap falls slightly £1,568, meaning that 5.6 million UK households are in fuel poverty.