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After today’s Autumn Statement by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, many vulnerable people are “now at acute risk of being left out in the cold,” according to fuel poverty charity National Energy Action.
Adam Scorer, chief executive at National Energy Action (NEA), says:
“Changes to the Energy Price Guarantee mean that the breathing space for households struggling with energy costs will now be shorter lived and less helpful. An average bill of £3,000 from spring is an increase of 40% from current record levels given that the Government has ceased the support currently provided by the Energy Bill Support Scheme, yet energy bills are up by a staggering 130%. Sadly, this means there is now no end in sight to the energy crisis for struggling households. For most, it looks as if it will get even harder.
“Boosting welfare payments and the targeted support that has been announced for energy bills will help some of the poorest households and at-risk groups, that’s important, but there are big gaps in these measures especially for low-income households not on means-tested benefits. The reductions in universal support will make these gaps even more challenging.
“Many other vulnerable groups — those with medical health conditions and carers for example, who could have been targeted for additional direct support, are now at acute risk of being left out in the cold unless they are supported by local authorities. With deficit budgets and nothing left to ration, too many could fall further into overwhelming debt or go without energy entirely, to the acute detriment of their health and wellbeing. Even those who will receive cost-of-living payments will find it practically impossible to sit on this cash payment and only channel this money towards soaring energy bills.
“Above all, we have to recognise energy prices will remain high for some years. We can’t keep stumbling forward with short-term, ad hoc responses. The Government and regulator, working with industry and consumer groups, need to get on with the job of designing and implementing a robust social tariff that provides greater protection for the most vulnerable. That’s difficult to do if you are scrambling for a quick response. It’s high time to put the work in and address the fundamental challenge of making sure that a warm home is affordable for everyone.
“The Chancellor did make some welcome commitments to boosting energy efficiency but promises of bigger programmes in two years’ time won’t make homes warmer or cheaper to run soon enough. Any new resources also need to help the Government meet its legal requirements to fuel poor households as a priority.”
If this goes online please link to www.nea.org.uk/energy-crisis. Our twitter handle is @NEA_UKCharity
We’ll be doing a deeper analysis of the impacts of this announcement on Friday 2 December, our Fuel Poverty Awareness Day. For more details, please go to www.nea.org.uk/fpad