Today the UK Government has confirmed unmanageable gas and electricity bills across Great Britain will be frozen at an average of £2,500 a year, over £500 higher on average than they are currently. The UK Government has also said that customers will still benefit from the previous Chancellor’s £400 rebate off domestic electricity bills and a new UK fund to support heating oil customers. Despite welcoming the scale of the intervention, fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA) says bills will still be unaffordable for millions this winter.
Adam Scorer, chief executive of fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA) comments:
“The UK government’s plan to freeze energy bills means the average household will pay around £2,500 a year, instead of the predicted £3,549 average a year. This will bring huge relief. It means more than 24 million households will face lower bills this winter. And it could help stop over 2 million households from being plunged into fuel poverty.
However, despite the good news, many households in serious fuel poverty need more than reassurance about future prices, they need rescuing from current prices.
Just over 12 months ago the average annual bill was just £1,271. Even with this price freeze the average bill has doubled in a year. Last year 4.5 million UK households were fuel poor, now we predict that it will be 6.7 million – far better than the 8.9 million without support, but still more needs to be done. In particular, measures need to work for households in Northern Ireland who are outside the GB energy market and its price cap.
“The new Government must not forget that the most vulnerable need targeted support. Those who use more energy in their homes because of medical conditions, those who are elderly and those on very low incomes need extra help so they don’t have to ration their usage, putting their physical and mental health at risk. Those on prepayment meters must not be forgotten either. They would benefit from a lower rate or additional relief from huge standing charges.
“We hope too, that longer term the Prime Minister will focus on greater investment in energy efficiency. It not only saves consumers money and makes homes warm and safe places to live, it creates jobs, provides an economic return to the Treasury and reduces strain and costs for our stretched health services.”