Close to seven million homes in Great Britain may experience fuel poverty unless a £14Bln package of emergency support is provided by the government, campaigners from the Warm This Winter group have warned.
To tackle the cost of living crisis, the London government announced the Energy Price Guarantee which caps tariffs, ensuring that ordinary households will pay no more than £2,500 for gas and electricity annually for the next two years.
However, new Chancellor Jeremy Hunt on Monday said the guarantee would be reviewed in April 2023. The Warm This Winter group says that, despite the measures already unveiled by the government of Prime Minister Liz Truss.
London promised an Energy Price Guarantee (EPG) and the £400 fuel rebate, but more help will be needed to prevent the severe health impacts of living in cold, damp homes crippling the NHS, causing excess winter deaths.
Furthermore, after the new Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, announced that the EPG would be reviewed and changed in April 2023, indicating that payments will probably increase next year for many families, the pressure group expressed profound concerns.
With British households also set to be encouraged to cut back on energy usage, the group warned of the danger that homes won’t be properly protected from rising bills.
In England, fuel poverty is measured using the Low Income Low Energy Efficiency ( LILEE ) indicator. Under it, a household is considered to be fuel poor if they are living in a property with a fuel poverty energy efficiency rating of band D or below.
People on low incomes but with higher-than-average energy consumption – often linked to poor home insulation – are believed to be the worst affected.
The group has called for urgent additional assistance, both fiscal and non-financial, aimed at the most vulnerable. First, the group argued the need for a third cost of living payment of £325 for those on income-linked benefits to be paid on 1 December, 2022.
Warm This Winter is also urging a further £150 of disability benefits, restoration of the £20 Universal Credit uplift and boosting energy bill support payments for people who do not have a mains gas connection.
All households who received the Warm Homes Discount last winter ought to be able to have access to a £150 rebate this winter, insisted the group.
As for non-financial help, it suggested an immediate suspension of all forced transfers of households onto more expensive pre-payment meters, whether by court warrant or remotely via smart meters.
With millions of homes set to be plunged into fuel poverty this winter, we’re extremely concerned that the nation’s lung health will rapidly deteriorate if the government doesn’t step up to help the most vulnerable.
According to a spokesman for the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, the British government policy has created a cliff edge in April 2023, with the Energy Bills Support Scheme and additional Cost of Living Payments due to end.
The government has been urged to set out a medium-term plan for financial support while the longer-term measures take effect. Britain remains in the grip of the cost-of-living crisis as inflation and fuel prices soar.
The Bank of England (BoE) predicted in August that inflation could hit 13% early next year.
A study conducted by the University of York in August suggested that at least 45 million Brits may be in the grip of fuel poverty by January 2023, after inflation rates in the UK reached a 40-year high of 10.1%.
The dire forecasts were preceded by UK government ministers acknowledging that the severe sanctions that western countries slapped on Russia shortly after Moscow was accused from downing flight MH-17 over Ukraine.
After Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine, more sanctions would have a knock-on effect on the cost of living in Britain, urging citizens to be prepared to take an economic hit.
Sputnik / ABC Flash Point News 2022.