16 Dec 2022
What’s the problem?
Right now, millions of households are struggling to heat their homes and pay their energy bills due to soaring gas prices, the increasing cost of living and the high rates of energy inefficiency in UK homes.
Although rising energy prices affect us all, some of us are impacted worse than others, with fuel poverty disproportionately affecting certain communities such as people of colour, disabled people, those on low incomes and private renters.
In the past year, the average household energy bill has almost doubled. Even with the government’s price freeze and current financial support, many people are being forced to ration their energy usage and live in cold, damp homes, as energy bills remain unaffordable.
To tackle these problems, we need huge improvements to the energy efficiency of our homes and reforms to fix our broken energy system. However, these’ll take time and, in the short term, urgent additional support is needed to ensure people can live in warm homes that don’t cost the Earth.
What’s been done so far?
In response to rising energy prices, the government has offered support through the Energy Price Guarantee, capping energy bills for a typical household at £2,500 a year and giving direct financial support to all households.
In the government’s Spring Budget, it announced that it would maintain the cap on energy bills at £2,500 until 30 June 2023, after which bills are expected to drop below this level. Cost-of-living support is now only for those receiving disability or means-tested benefit payments and pensioners.
While support for these groups is welcome, the government’s new measures will still leave many of those receiving means-tested benefit payments worse off than before the energy crisis. They also leave those in poverty who aren’t receiving means-tested benefit payments (around 4 in 10 people in poverty) without additional support and in a much worse financial position than before the energy crisis.
What are we calling for?
- Greater targeted support for those who’ll still be in fuel poverty in 2023 and 2024, despite existing government support. This should particularly be for those in poverty who don’t receive means-tested benefits and who’ll therefore miss out on additional payments being made to those who are.
- The government to consider options such as a social tariff for April 2024 onwards in its review of consumer protections. Those on low incomes should be charged less for their energy, whereas higher-income, high-energy users should be charged more to incentivise energy savings.
By offering this emergency support and making energy more affordable to those on low incomes, we can ensure that everyone lives in a warm, comfortable home, while we continue to tackle the challenges of energy inefficiency and reforming our broken energy system for good.